Wednesday, October 29, 2008

tuscany day 4

Today was an AMAZING day!!! We took the train into Florence. It rained, no poured, through the night and I was so worried it would rain the whole time we were in Florence. It was still raining when we got up and we all donned our rain gear. During my quiet time, I was just asking God that if He could give us another day of great weather I would be so grateful! Well, on the way to the train station, we saw the most beautiful rainbow I have EVER seen!!! It was soooo vivid and bright! After that, the weather was PERFECT the rest of the day. It started raining (slightly) as we drove back to the farm. God is good!

So, we rode the train to Florence and were met by Gracia, our tour guide. She was the sweetest woman and incredibly knowledgeable. I am going to “try” to get everything down that we saw, but it was a lot!!

The first place we stopped was the Official Pharmecia. This place was amazing. The produce all kinds of soaps, face creams, hand creams, oils, even chocolate. Apparently their creams are incredible and people come from all over the world to buy them. They only sell them there. The building itself was breathtaking with frescos on the wall and beautiful glass wood cabinets lining the walls. Hard to explain. The place smelled heavenly!! They also had a museum attached with all the antique vases and viles and equipment they used to use.

Next we walked through town and got an overview of some of the major squares and basilicas. Our tour guide was so excited because there is a museum that houses many of the original sculptures that were on the buildings and it was open for free viewing today. They have replaced many of the original sculptures outside. This museum is only open on rare occasions because it doesn’t have an elevator to get to it. The law requires a museum to have one if it is going to be open to the public. So, this one only gets to open for special occasions…today was one and we got to see it. This was such a treat!!! I really wish I had paid better attention in my humanities class in college. These sculptures were so incredible and detailed. And many were done in the 14 and 15th centuries.

Next we visited a very famous palace of the 16th century. Much of the original furniture is still there and the frescos and paintings on the walls were in really good condition! The detail of each item just blows my mind. Thinking about how long each piece took to make or each church….it is mind boggling. Even the wood ceilings were ornately decorated and painted!

Next we walked through the city center and then over the river to the other side. We had a wonderful lunch at a little café that served a buffet! I think I ate the best meatballs I have ever eaten! Alyssa, these were better than the ones we ate in Little Italy in NY!!!

After lunch, we walked up the hill (a STEEP hill) to see the Piazzale Michelangelo. The view of Florence from up there was absolutely incredible!! There was a beautiful church at the top. San Salvatore al Monte alle Croci. A Fransciscan Church. We have been through so many churches and I never get tired of them. They are absolutely breathtaking and each one so unique!!

There was another small church up there that was dedicated to a martyred saint…I can not think of his name at the moment….I’m tired!!! It was a very simple but quaint chapel!

From there, we walked down the hill over the Ponte Vecchio. This is a bridge that is lined with jewelry stores….LOTS of jewelry stores!! Mom and I agreed to walk down the middle of the street and not look left or right!!! Dad, you would have been proud!!

We walked through another market were there is this bronze sculpture of a wild boar. They say that if you rub the snout then you will come back to Florence!!!! Of course I rubbed it!! They had to to push me away so someone else could do it….jk!!!! ☺

We were really getting tired by this time and took a break in a small park. We were talking with Gracia and said that we would love to see some artists at work. She got very excited and took us to an art district somewhere over the bridge (I don’t think I could get back!) and we found this man that makes very delicate silver and gold pressed boxes. He gave us a tour and showed us how he made them (on a century old press!!). He took us through each step and it is all done by hand!!!!! It was so cool. He does work for many of the big stores like Sax, in the US. He showed us pictures of his work in their catalogs! And then he let us buy some pieces……for a fraction of what they sell for in the stores. In fact, later we went back to the Pharmacia to get another item and his work was being sold there for times more than we paid for it!!! But the neat things was watching him make the items and then being able to have one!!! He was so proud of his work and so proud to show us around his very humble work shop! That was a highlight!!

After that, Gracia left us and we made our way back to the train station. We rode the train back to our stop and Paulo was there to pick us up. Actually, he walked off the train behind us and scared us! He had gotten on at the stop before just to make sure we got off at the right place….and to scare us! The people here are so great. They are so nice and friendly and go out of their way to help you!

We walked over to a pizza place across from the train station. Paulo said that this was a place that only Italians ate at. Alright, I know I have said this before, BUT this was the BEST pizza I have ever eaten!!!! Better than Chicago pizza and that is saying a lot! Everyone agreed. The owner makes it by hand…it allowed us to go behind the counter and watch!! And they cook it in an 800 degree brick oven. The pizza literally cooks in like 3 minutes! It is the fastest pizza I have ever gotten. Also fresh cheeses on it….wow!!

Now we are back at the farm. I am too full to go to bed!!! What a great day! Tomorrow we go to Certado. They are known for their etchings. And then another cooking class!



Esthermay Bentley-Goossen said...

First – the fact that the Pharmecia sells chocolate speaks volumes. The Italians got it right, my friend. Our “pharmecia” sells c*ndo** and other non-necessities (er… non nice things). ‘nuf said.

I am loving reading of your days’ events. How will you EVER eat American food again?

If I’m learning anything from your posts (besides good argument points for DH making Italy trip a future “DO”) I will make sure my children listen in World History Class. I’ve visited many places in the U.S. and wished I’d paid closer attention in school.

I don’t think Americans can truly appreciate the beauty and value of original 16th Century buildings, paintings, furniture, etc. I get goosebumps thinking about it. So much of American is just too new.

Till tomorrow...

Christine said...

What an amazing journey you are on, Sara! I've been enjoying every detail and praising God for giving you this great joy. (and I'm thankful that you are taking the time to share it with us!)

Beverlydru said...

Florence is so totally awesome. Having a blast with you!