Florence symbol  Florence  Florence symbol


    Florence, or as it's called in Italy, Firenze, is Europe's cultural capital. It is the birthplace of the Renaissance and practiced the art of civilized living while the rest of Europe was living in the mud and squalor of the Middle Ages. Literature, sculpture, painting, architecture and science were all revered by the Florentines of the 15th century. Florence is a small city, but has more artistic masterpieces per square mile then any other city.

History  of  Firenze

Florence symbol          Their were villages on this site during the Iron Age and later by Etruscans. However, the foundation of Florence date back to the Roman Republic when it was founded in 59 BC as Florentia by Julius Caesar as a place for retired Roman soldiers. 

          The city was seriously damaged during the barbarian Ostrogoth invasions of the Roman Empire during the 5th century and the barbarian Lombards conquest  in the 6th century. This was the beginning of what may be considered the darkest period in the city's history when it's population may have fallen to about 1,000. 

           It started to grow again in the 9th century, during the rule of Charlemagne, when it was part of the Holy Roman Empire. By the 11th century it was governed by a council composed of nobles, somewhat in the name of the people, thus making the city a republic. In the 12th century, the Florentines set out to control the Arno River valley.

           Leading families in Florence vied for power which led, in 1300, to internal civil war. During this war, Dante Alighieri was exiled from the city. Despite the internal strife, the city prospered through wool manufacturing and banking making some Florentine families very wealthy. This made Florence one of the most powerful and prosperous in Europe.

           In 1333, a flood devastated the city, destroying almost all of her bridges and killing 300 people. By 1348, Florence had an estimated 80,000 inhabitants when Black Death arrived which killed about half of them.

Cosimo de' Medici           Florence rebounded and continued to grow with powerful guilds controlling the city. However, the poor, who felt exploited by the rich merchants and bankers, helped Cosimo de' Medici, a wealthy merchant-banker (at right), to rule the Republic in 1434. This started, with the exceptions of a few brief exiles, three centuries of rule by the Medici family. Cosimo looks here like he enjoys being in charge.

           Cosimo's grandson, Lorenzo de' Medici, called Lorenzo the Magnificent, was a great patron of learning and the arts. The Florentine gold coin, the florin, became the standard of trade throughout Europe, and the commerce of Florence embraced the known world. The great beginning of Renaissance art in architecture, painting and sculpture took place within little more than the span of the 15th century.

           In 1494, the Medici's were driven from power by a Dominican friar, Girolamo Savonarola, who hated the extravagance of the Medici's. Four years later,  Savonarola was burnt at the stake. The Medici, returned to power in 1512, were again exiled in 1527, and permanently restored in 1531. The title grand duke of Tuscany was bestowed on the head of the Medici family by the pope in 1569.

           The Medici ruled Tuscany until they died out in 1737. Florence was then ruled by the imperial Austrian Habsburgs. Archduke Leopold II, was finally deposed in 1859, during the struggle for Italian independence. Florence was the capital of the Kingdom of Italy from 1865 to 1870, until King Victor Emmanuel II moved to Rome. 

            In World War II, most of Florence's monuments escaped damaged, however all its bridges (except the Ponte Vecchio) were destroyed. In 1966, a major flood damaged numerous art treasures in Florence, however many were restored in succeeding years.

            Today, Florence is a vibrant city of 356,000 people. They are avid fans of the ACF Fiorentina, formerly Associazione Calcio Fiorentina, an Italian football (soccer) team based in Florence.

Santa del Maria Fiore

Santa Maria del Fiore            We arrived in Florence on the Eurostar from Rome on Saturday, June 21, 2003. The train left Rome around 40 minutes late, however, the trip was very smooth. We got a chance to enjoy the Italian countryside during the hour and half trip. We arrived in Florence, or as it's called in Italy, Firenze. After leaving the Santa Maria Novella Train Station, we walked along the Via dei Panzini toward the Duomo. The Duomo is the most recognized landmark in Florence and it's dome dominates the skyline. It's hard to get lost in Florence, all you have to do is head for the dome.
    The Duomo (which is Italian for 'dome') is the nickname for the large cathedral in Florence. It's official name is Santa Maria del Fiore (St. Mary of the Flowers). It is a Gothic building constructed in the Middle Ages by architects who left it unfinished. How was it unfinished you might ask? Well, they left a giant hole in the roof for a dome. Problem was that no one at the time knew how to construct domes. However, they figured that someday, someone would figure it out and build it, so they left a 130 foot diameter hole. That is what I call the ultimate optimists!

          This is a hard building to get a good photograph of. If you want to include the Bell Tower on the right in the picture, you cut out the dome. You can't back up any further because the Baptistery will block the shot. So, this is the best I could get.

The Duomo    Construction of the cathedral began in 1296, under the design of architect Arnolfo di Cambio and would take 140 years to complete. Construction stopped in 1302, when di Cambio died. Work resumed in 1334, under a new architect, Giotto. However, Giotto, spent most of his time (he died only three years later) on the bell tower next to the cathedral. Construction was halted in 1348, the year the Black Death decimated the population of Europe. Work then continued until 1375, when it was for the most part finished. Except that is for the giant dome on top.  

    In 1420, architect Filippo Brunelleschi (1377 - 1446) won the contest to construct the dome. It would take only 14 years and was the largest since the Pantheon in Rome. Brunelleschi's dome became the model for domes to follow, like St. Peter's basilica in Rome. When Michelangelo set out to build the dome of St. Peter's, he used the Duomo as his inspiration. He stated, "I will make her sister...bigger, but not more beautiful." You may have noticed in this photo, or the one at the top, that the space between the tiled dome and the marble is bare with just bricks. This part of the dome was never finished. The balustrade designed by Baccio d'Agnolo and carried out on only one side of the octagon (in the back) did not meet with the approval of Michelangelo who, calling it "a cage for crickets", decreed its final condemnation. So, it has been bare ever since.

           The "Cupolone" or great cupola (as the Florentines have called it ever since) was completed in 1434. Two years later the lantern was placed in position (taking it from 298 to 375 feet in total height). The decorations in the lantern were finished by 1446, when Michelangelo was on his deathbed. The finishing touches included the application of the decorations in the lantern in 1461 and the positioning of the great copper sphere on the top in 1474. Cast in Verrocchio's workshop and raised up by a machine that was built with the help of Leonardo da Vinci, the ball fell off after being struck by lightning on July 17, 1600 and was replaced two years later by an even larger one. A marble plaque commemorating the event is visible on a paving stone in the square behind the Cathedral.

Top of the bell tower    The Duomo was consecrated by Pope Eugene IV on March 25th (the Florentine New Year) 1436. It is the third largest cathedral in the world after St. Peter's in Rome and St. Paul's in London. The finished dome, with the lantern on top, is 375 feet high. You can climb to the top, it's only 463 steps (St. Paul's Cathedral in London is 627 steps to the top and Debbie and I made that one). We didn't climb this one, however, we did climb the bell tower next to it.

    The exterior of the cathedral is in white Carrara, green Prato and red Siena marble giving it a very colorful appearance. Construction began on the facade of the cathedral much later in 1876 and took ten years to complete. Some people, including myself, think the colorful facade is spectacular. Others have been more derisive toward it, actually calling it a 'cathedral in pajamas'. There was a long line to get in when we arrived that morning, so we didn't go inside. When we returned later in the day to climb the Bell Tower, the line was gone so we went in to find a place for Mom to sit down. She wasn't doing any climbing.

    Brunelleschi died in 1446 and was buried in the Duomo. However, the location of his tomb was lost and only re-discovered in 1972. Here we are at the top of the Bell Tower with the dome in the background.

Duomo bell tower in Florence    The belltower of the Duomo, one of the most beautiful in Italy, was an (extremely costly) invention of genius by Giotto which was created more as a decorative monument than a functional one. It is not connected to the cathedral, but is a few feet from the right of the facade. Construction began in 1334 and was completed in 1359 (long after Giotto's death). It is 277 feet high and 47 feet wide at any of it's sides. There are large windows all the way up that light the tower and you get a view on the way up. On top, there is a terrace with incredible views of the city and the dome on the cathedral. For the price of €6, you can walk to the top. Debbie and I paid the fee and climbed to the top - all 414 steps!

    We left Mom inside the Duomo, where she could sit in the cool air. Unfortunately, while we were climbing the Bell Tower, they were closing the cathedral. When we went down to the street, we found Mom relaxing on the front steps of the Duomo. The inside of the cathedral is not as impressive as the outside. The inside is still pretty empty since the flood of 1966 damaged much of the artwork. Since then, the artwork is kept in the Museo dell' Opera del Duomo (behind the cathedral). You can climb up into the dome, but since we already climbed the bell tower, we passed on this. If you want to go up the 463 steps (49 steps more then the tower), it will also cost you €6.

Baptistery of San Giovanni          Across from the front of the cathedral, in the center of the square, is the Baptistery. It was built on the site of a Roman temple to the god of war, Mars (who else would a bunch of retired Roman soldiers dedicate their temple to). The foundations of the first Baptistery of San Giovanni (St. John the Baptist is the patron saint of Florence), dated from around the 4th to 5th century, was built on top of these ancient buildings. It has an octagonal shape. New doors were built in the early part of the 15th century. The famous "Doors of Paradise", designed by the sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti (photo at left), were finished in 1424. In 1972, between the Baptistery and the Duomo, they have unearthed numerous Medieval tombs. 

    We were not able to get to the Santa Croce Church. Many famous people of the Renaissance are interred here. It's hard to believe that I didn't get to see some famous graves, but time was limited. The most famous of all, Michelangelo, is buried here along with fellow sculptor, Lorenzo Ghiberti (Baptistery bronze doors), Renaissance author, Niccolo Machiavelli (creator of hard-ball politics who wrote The Prince), Poet Vittorio Alfieri along with Physicist/Astronomer Galileo Galilei (who was allowed in many years after he died). There is also a memorial dedicated to Dante Alighieri. He's not here (I have included an interesting story about his body after he died below), he was banished from Florence in 1302, and died in exile in Ravenna, Italy 19 years later, bitter and lonely man. (here is a site with a picture of all of the famous people's tombs)

door          We walked around Florence. The city is very different from Rome. It is a much more European city while Rome is such a large metropolis. What I mean by that is that Florence reminded us of many of the smaller cities we have seen in Europe. This is probably why Debbie liked Florence more then Rome. Mom on the other hand loved Rome (of course, my mother loves New York City also). Mom was interested in some Italian dishware so we looked in a couple of shops. We strolled down the Via Ricasoli toward the Galleria dell' Accademia (Accademia Museum). This is where the statue David is displayed. We didn't plan on visiting because of the time schedule, and if we did, the long line surely would have dissuaded us. There are so many reminders of Medieval Europe and the Renaissance as we walked around the streets. I took a photograph of this door (right) because I found it very interesting. Not quite Ghiberti's Baptistery bronze doors, but somehow, I could see Dante knocking on it.

Piazza della Signoria

Piazza della Signoria    Before going to the Uffizi museum, we walked around the square next to the museum called the  Piazza della Signoria (right).  The Piazza della Signoria has been the political heart of the city from the Middle Ages to the present day. It is a singular urbanistic creation that began taking shape from 1268 onwards, when the Guelph party gained control of the city again and decided to raze the houses of their Ghibelline rivals to the ground. The first to be destroyed were the towers belonging to the Foraboschi and the Uberti families, in spite of the fact that the head of the family (the famous Farinata celebrated by Dante in his Comedy), had defended the city from destruction after its army had been disastrously defeated at the battle of Montaperti in 1260 by the Ghibelline coalition led by Siena. In the end 36 houses were demolished which explains the unusual "L" shape of the square and why the buildings around it are unaligned, all that remained after the city's enemies had all been "wiped out" (nothing was ever to be built on the site again).

statue of Neptune in Florence            It is the largest square in the city and contains a lot of artwork. In the square is a statue of Neptune (photo at right) in the center of a fountain. In the center of the square is a bronze statue of Cosimo de' Medici on horseback (seen in photo above). The south side of the square is bordered by the Uffizi Museum and the west side by the Palazzo Vecchio. In 1301, it was from this square that Dante was sent into exile (a plaque on one of the walls of the Uffizi commemorates the event).

            The Palazzo (or Palace) was once the home of the Medici family, it now houses Florentine art and history. Most guide books say it's really not worth going into. Though they recommend to step into the courtyard just inside the door to feel the essence of the Medici's. While we were there, the palace was covered in scaffolding while they do repairs to the exterior. While I am sure that is important to keep the building in the best of shape, it is annoying to photographers who are looking to take it's picture.

            There is a plaque on the ground in the piazza, in front of the Palazzo commemorating the spot where the Dominican friar, Girolamo Savonarola, was burned at the stake. When he was in power, he and his followers collected and publicly burned thousands of objects like works of art, books, mirrors and musical instruments. This has been called the "Bonfire of the Vanities." Next to the entrance of the Palazzo is a replica of the statue of David by Michelangelo. THE actual statue of David stood on this spot from 1873 to recently. Currently it is located in the Academia Museum which we didn't get into that day (after all, we were only in Florence for 10 hours).

Firenze Sports

ACF Fiorentina          
As in most of the world football (or what we call soccer) is the most popular sport in Florence. Their top professional football team is (ACF Fiorentina). Their team colors are purple and white (their home jersey is almost solid purple) giving them the nickname i Viola (the purple ones). ACF Fiorentina currently play in Serie A (the top level) of the Lega Nazionale Professionisti. They currently play in the 47,282 seat  Stadio Artemio Franchi (originally called the "Comunale"). The stadium was built in 1936 and was the site of four games of the 1990 FIFA World Cup including two USA games (both loses) and Argentina's victory over Yugoslavia on penalty kicks in the quarter-finals.

ACF Fiorentina was founded in 1926 with the merger of two other clubs, Libertas and Club Sportivo Firenze. The club won its first trophy in 1939-40 with the Coppa Italia and its first scudetto (Italian championship) in 1955-1956. This gave them their first appearence in the second ever European Cup (fore-runner of the current UEFA Champions League - a prestigious championship of the most successful football clubs in Europe which was inaugurated in 1955). ACF Fiorentina advanced all the way to the finals before losing to defending champion Real Madrid 2-0 in the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in Madrid.

           Over the next four seasons, they were runner-ups in Serie A.
ACF Fiorentina won the Coppa Italia and the Mitropa Cup in 1966 and were league champions again in the 1968-1969 season. This gave them their second appearence in the European Cup. They won four games, but ultimatly lost in the semi-finals to Celtic FC of Glascow. In 1974 they won the Anglo-Italian Cup. Success in the Coppa Italia was repeated in 1975, but from then until the late 1990's the club found itself in the doldrums, culminating in a relagation to one year in Serie B (second division). Upon return to Serie A, the club again proved able in the cup competitions, winning the Coppa Italia again in 1996 and 2000 and the Italian SuperCoppa. In 1999-2000, they qualified for the UEFA Champions League for the second time, advancing to the Second Stage before being eliminated.

Angelo Di Livio         
2001 heralded major changes for ACF Fiorentina as the terrible state of the club's finances forced them into bankruptcy which caused them to be refused a place in Serie B for the 2002-2003 season, and as a result, effectively ceased to exist. The club was promptly re-established in August 2002 as Florentia Viola with a new owner and was admitted into Serie C2, the fourth tier of Italian football. The only player to remain at the club as they began their new life was midfielder Angelo Di Livio (photo at right), nicknamed soldatino (little soldier), whose commitment to the cause of resurrecting the club further endeared him to the fans. Helped by Di Livio (who retired in 2005), the club won it's division which began it's two-year accent back to Serie A (they actually skipped over Serie C1 (third tier) and were admitted into Serie B (second tier). The club also bought back the right to use the Fiorentina name and the famous purple shirt design, and re-incorporated itself as ACF Fiorentina.

        The club's unusual double promotion was not without controversy, with some suggesting that Fiorentina did not deserve it; however, the club remained in Serie B and managed to finish the 2003-2004 season in sixth place. This achievement to play for a position in Serie A which they achieved.

        In their first season back in Serie A, the club struggled at first but inproved during the 2005-06 season earning 4th place in the Serie A with 74 points. The combination of Jorgensen, Fiore and key marksman Luca Toni with Frey in goal has proved to be dominant with Toni himself having scored an amazing 31 goals in just 34 appearances, the first player to pass the 30 goal mark since Antonio Valentin Angelillo in the 1958/59 season - which has seen him claim the European Golden Boot. However, Fiorentina faced relegation to Serie B due to their involvement in the 2006 Serie A match fixing scandal and given a 12 point penalty. However, on appeal, the team was reinstated to the Serie A. The team did however lose their UEFA Champions League 2006-07 place, likely denting the team's traditionally shakey finances

Galleria degli Uffizi

Mom & Debbie in front of the Uffizi    We had a 1:00 o'clock appointment at the Uffizi Gallery (pronounced: oo-FEEDZ-ee). I called the museum the day before from Rome and made the appointment. It only cost an extra €1.55, but you can avoid waiting in the long lines. Frank with beerThey do this in most of the famous museums around Italy, except in Rome. It's really worth it to avoid standing in lines that can make you wait for hours. So we decided to have lunch before we went in. We bought some panini sandwiches at a store in the Palazzo Vecchio and ate in front of the museum. The sandwiches were very good, and I was able to get some more Italian beer (I look like I enjoyed it, don't I). Look at Debbie pretending she is drinking a beer (actually, I put her up to it, as usual).

            After having our sandwiches, we strolled over to the museum. We had a little trouble at first finding the entrance. They are not much for informational signs here. However, we did find it and went in. The cost is not much, €8 for the ticket plus the extra €1,55. The Uffizi Gallery has the greatest collection of Italian paintings anywhere. It features works by Giotto (builder of the Bell Tower), Leonardo, Raphael, Rubens, Michelangelo and Botticelli. They only let a certain amount of people in at a time, so it's a very good idea to call ahead and book an appointment.Perseus and Medusa

          Construction of Uffizi Palace began in 1560 by Duke Cosimo I dei Medici as an administrative center for Florence. It was for the 13 magistrates (thus the name 'Uffizi' - don't ask me, I really don't know). The palace, and now the museum, is situated between the Signoria Palace and the Arno River. Cosmo died 11 years later in 1571 and the building still wasn't done yet (they must of had the same contractor that Debbie and I had). Cosmo's son, Francesco I, kept at it and it was completed ten years later in 1581. Francesco, who was into science, set up laboratories on the second floor. Gradually, they started compiling works of art on the second floor for display making the Uffizi one of the world's first art museums.

          In front of the museum are a number of statues in an open vaulted gallery called the Loggia dei Lanzi. We had lunch in front of it above. Pictured at right is a 18-foot bronze masterpiece of  Perseus and Medusa created by the famous Florence goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini. It took Cellini nine years to complete it. In 1554, when he finished it, the statue was exhibited under the Loggia and was immediately acclaimed by the whole city.

Judith Beheading Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi    The Uffizi Gallery (Galleria degli Uffizi) is u-shaped and is only on one floor. You don't have to walk much, which is easier on U feetzi (sorry about that). After climbing a lot of stairs, you come to the gallery on the top floor. You follow a tour that goes through the art in chronological order. I thought this was very interesting, seeing how art progressed through history. At left is one of their paintings, a somewhat gruesome scene in Judith Beheading Holofernes, painted by Artemisia Gentileschi around 1621.

    Realism in paintings (three-dimensional) developed during the Renaissance. In the first room, you can see pre-Renaissance paintings and how the artists were struggling with the concept of 3-D (a few of them lost the struggle). Pre-Renaissance art almost always featured religious themes and the artist Giotto was no different. There are a number of Madonna paintings in the first couple of rooms. Giotto is considered the first of the great artists (along with designing impressive bell towers). He made great strides toward realism. After his death from the plague in 1337, the world went back to 2-D paintings for over a hundred years.

Nascita di Venere    The next set of rooms take you into the Early Renaissance (around mid-15th century) with works by Uccello, Fra Filippo Lippi and Pollaiolo. Realism is much more evident and the Madonna's are disappearing. The latter part of the 15th century was when the Renaissance was at it's height in Florence. This is evident in the next room full of Botticelli's. Some of his more famous works are here, like the Allegory of Spring, Adoration of the Magi and the Birth of Venus. Created around 1485, Botticelli's Birth of Venus (Nascita di Venere in Italian), also known by it's cute nickname "Venus on the half-shell", is considered by many as the purest expression of Renaissance beauty.

Ponte Vecchio
Ponte Vecchio in Florence        From the Piazza della Signoria and the Uffizi Gallery, we walked down to the Arno River. About a block away from the Uffizi is the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge or il Pontevecchio in Italian). This is the oldest bridge in Florence which crosses the Arno at its widest point. The Bridge on this spot dates back to Roman <>times, when it was made of wood, and has often been re-built. After the massive flooding of 1333, it was re-constructed in stone with a double row of shops. The current bridge dates back to 1565. This famous Florentine bridge (pictured at left and below) is still full of small shops which house gold and jewelry shops on both sides of the span. You can see the three central vaults of the Ponte Vecchio and the backs of the shops held by wooden rafters. The photo at left is looking west.

Benvenuto Cellini Monument            
In the center of the bridge you can see the Benvenuto Cellini Monument which was erected in 1900. Cellini is the most famous Florentine goldsmith and sculptor. He did the Perseus and Medusa statue in the Loggia dei Lanzi, outside the Uffizi (photo above). You can see the monument at right with a pigeon on his head and a couple of tourists below.

The only time you know you are actually on a bridge is in the middle of the span where you can look out onto the river or from a back window in one of the shops. In 1944, during the Second World War, the German army commander of Florence was ordered to blow up all of the bridges across the Arno River as they retreated north from the Allied armies. The commander blew up all of the bridges except this one. He did destroy the buildings on either side making it unpassable, but he spared the Ponte Vecchio. In 1966, the bridge suffered heavy damage during a devastating flood (pictures of the damage).  

        There is a tile covered enclosed passageway, called the Vasari Corridor, coming out of the museum and across the Arno River (seen in the photo below). This is a fortified escape route Arno Riverthat connects the Palace Vecchio through the Uffizi over the Arno to the fortified Pitti Palace on the other side of the river. In 1565, Cosimo I de Medici had Giorgio Vasari build the famous "Vasari corridor". This way the Medici's could escape in times of attack (it happened sometimes back in the day). The passageway is open by request only and you have to pay €8. We didn't. To enforce the prestige of the bridge itself, in 1593, Cosimo prohibited butchers from selling there. Their place was immediately taken over by gold merchants who are still there today. The picture at left was looking east and was taken from the Uffizi Museum.

Dante Alighieri lived in Florence (here is a great website on Dante) from his birth in 1265 until he was exiled in 1303. He never returned to Florence. His real first name was Durante, Dante was kind of a nick-name. On a side street in Florence, you can visit his home. We walked and looked at the outside, but the interior museum was closed the day we were there.

Bizarre Story of Dante's Body 

          After many years of exile from his home city of Florence, Dante died in Ravenna, Italy in 1321 and was buried in San Pier Maggiore’s Church (today called San Francisco or St. Francis). Shortly after his death, the city of Florence, who had exiled him 18 years earlier, asked that his body be re-interred in Florence. The people of Ravenna rightfully refused. About 150 years later, they asked again. This time they had the support of Pope Leo X (who by strange coincidence was from Florence). It was tough to say no, when the pope wanted Dante moved. So the citizens of Ravenna told the people of Florence to come and get him.
Dante Alighieri       A group of people from Florence showed up to collect the 150 year old corpse. When they got there, to their surprise (and only theirs), the tomb was empty. The people of Ravenna said the tomb must have been robbed or perhaps Dante had himself come back from the dead in order to continue his roaming around. Needless to say, the people of Florence went home empty handed (with the good citizens of Ravenna snickering behind their backs).
        But, what happened to Dante's body? In 1865, a worker digging in the church found a partially decomposed box containing a skeleton. In the box was a letter stating that they were indeed the 544 year old bones of the poet hidden there so the Florentines wouldn't find him. Dante was given another burial. Unfortunately, for the next 55 years after the reburial, small bones of Dante started turning up. As people turned in these "souvenirs", they decided to dig him up and re-construct Dante's skeleton to make sure they had all of his bones (they did). 
       In 1999, it appeared in the news that an envelope containing Dante's ashes had been found by chance in the National Central Library of Florence. This caused quite a stir in Italy. It was found among some century old books and was thought to contain a few ashes of the now long dead poet. Some Dante experts claimed that it couldn't be his ashes since Dante was never cremated. What were they? It is believed that it was dust from the carpet that the partially decomposed box of remains, found in 1865, was placed on after they were dug up.
       Today, Dante is resting finally, after over 680 years, in his own tomb built next to the Church of San Francesco (St. Francis) in Ravenna, Italy.

restaurant          We started getting hungry and looked for a place to have dinner. Of course, being in Florence, the problem is not if we could find one, but which one do we choose. We were very lucky to discover a smaller out of the way restaurant at Via de Tavolini 12, off Via Calzaioli halfway between the Uffizi and the cathedral. Mom, Debbie and I were really looking forward to some Tuscany food and the Ristorante Paoli (left) looked like the place (we never did find out why they have a different name above the door.) We had to wait until 7 PM when they opened for dinner. We were the first people in there for dinner so we
Frankwere able to get a table. They had reservations, but since we would be leaving before 9 PM, they gave us a good table. The interior is outstanding. It has vaulted ceilings and frescos on the walls. What I thought were coat hooks running down the walls turned out to be old candle holders from the days before electricity (you can some of the decorations in the photo at right and below - the candle-holders are above the family shields).

           Our waiter was great, though
Debbie having desertI think he was trying to fatten us up. They bring out the appetizers and salads on a cart next to the table. They mix the salads right there in front of you. The waiter wanted us to try everything. Dinner was exceptional. Debbie had the veal Milanese while Mom had the risotto. Of course, I knew this guy wasn't going to let us leave without dessert, which also comes out on a cart. As you can see by Debbie's expression (she had something with lots of chocolate), we all enjoyed our dinner and desert. My desert had a lot of strawberries and custard. Of course, I finished it off with coffee. Looks like I got some sun, too.

After dinner, we walked around a little. I took a couple of great pictures of the sun setting on the Arno river which I included below. Eventually, we had to start walking back to the train station to catch the EuroStar back to Rome. Who knows, they may actually be on time, but we doubt it.

Arno at sunset

Sunset on the Arno River

Links: The Florence Art Guide

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