October 13–14, 2019
On Sunday we headed to Termini to catch a fast train to Florence. There are two train companies in Italy. Both have trains between major cities, and the speeds average around 200 mph. They include comfortable second class cars and even more comfortable first class cars with reserved seating and luggage areas at one end for those bags too large or heavy to place overhead. Trains are frequent, and even for first class the prices are reasonable. One of the companies also has a network of slower trains between much smaller cities. So Torrey and I rode in style on a fast train to Florence. Schedules are dependable. On one train we rode, they apologized that the train was 4 minutes late. On Amtrak, if a train is just 4 minutes late, you have a celebration. As Americans, we wonder why we can't have the transportation and health care systems that other supposedly poorer countries can afford. I'll leave that question as an exercise for the reader.
I had booked a hotel room for three nights in Florence. At our chosen hotel, they had rooms for 2, 3, or 4 people. The 2-person rooms appeared to have just one double bed. The 3-person room seemed to have a double bed and a twin bed. So I booked a four-person room for the two of us. The next picture shows the ceiling of our room, and the following one shows the room as seen when I sat on the couch. There was also a spacious modern bathroom.
On the bottom floor of the building was a Leonardo da Vinci museum. Note the enigmatic smile on the famous painting. (See also hangin' around.)
Just down from the hotel was the Palazzo Medici Riccardi. It was closed, but we were able to see the exterior and courtyards.
We would tour the interior later. I hoped I could buy a wheel for my Riccardo luggage there, but no luck.
The street then took us down to the Duomo, which is what many Italian cities call their cathedral. The name has nothing to do with the fact that they have domes (or with head waiters). It derives from the Latin word domus, meaning "home." It is the house of God (and/or the bishop). It was near sunset, and the building had a glow that I couldn't quite capture in the photos, but worth a try.
Across from the Duomo is the octagonal baptistery, which we would later visit. There are elaborate bronze doors on three sides. These doors were called "Gate of Paradise" by Michelangelo, and the name has stuck. These are copies, and the originals are now protected in the museum. Dante Alighieri and many of the Medici family were baptized there.
On Monday most museums were closed, but we were able to buy tickets for time entries into two we would visit later. We decided to extend our visit by an extra day in Florence and were later able to confirm we could have our room for another day. Then we headed for the Palazzo Vecchio, the town hall of Florence. The mayor's office and the town council meets here. It has served many functions over the years, and included apartments for various Medici and town officials. When a duke moved his residence to a palace across the river, he called this the "old palace," and the name stuck. It became the seat of government for the newly united Italy in 1865, when Florence was the country's temporary capital.
Michelangelo's David was originally intended for an upper level of the Duomo. When he finished, it was determined to be too heavy to place up there safely, so they decided to place it in front the Palazzo Vecchio along with Baccio Bandinelli's Hercules and Cacus. A replica of David is there now, and the original has been moved to the safety of a museum we would visit later.
Composite photo of large ceiling: a little distorted, but you can see the general effect.
views from an upper floor
The Salone dei Cinquecento ("Hall of the Five Hundred") was built in 1494, commissioned by Savanarola. It was later enlarged.
The Hall of Geographical Maps was intended as a study and a place to house exotic items from around the world.