I should’ve taken the blue pill…
After a long, long day traveling–delays, canceled flights, and being stuck next to a very stinky fellow passenger for 11 hours–I decided to hit the town.
Apart from a few streets around the Duomo and Ponte Vecchio, Florence is refreshingly free of tourists these days. There are some advantages to winter travel, if you don’t mind the cold of course. But back to Florence. Man, this place is filled with memories! I studied here in college (at least I got credit for being here) and so every alleyway and vista brings up a flood of emotion and reflective thought. So with that in mind, I opted for memory-overload and climbed the 414 steps to the top of the Duomo’s campanile, or bell tower.
The massive dome on Florence’s cathedral was completed in 1436; designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, it’s one of the marvels of Renaissance Italy. It’s also huge, easily dwarfing all buildings in the area. Note the shadow of the campanile falling across the dome.
Looking southish over Florence, with the Bargello on the left and Palazzo Vecchio to the right. High in the background to the left is the Piazza Michelangelo, where I saw an epic Radiohead concert in 2003, the first time I’d been back to Florence since studying there in the late 90s.
That’s the church of San Lorenzo in the foreground and the big domed building tacked onto the end is the Medici family tomb. The large building you can see with the metal roof is Florence’s outstanding Mercato Centrale. A must stop on any visit!
A view of Palazzo Vecchio from inside the campanile.
Looking down the inside of the campanile from about half way up.
I grew up near Oxnard, California. How funny to find the city’s name graffitied on the campanile (I believe I took this exact photo while I was studying in Florence oh so long ago).
After climbing down from the tower and indulging an awesome gelato at Perché Non, I headed over to the Zanobini wine shop near the Mercato Centrale. Starting in the afternoon, well, anytime they want to I guess, Mario and Simone Zanobini receive customers directly at their small bar and pour glasses of their own Chianti Classico, as well as other Tuscan wines. Mario suggested that I stay for a few glasses to trying to dodge the fuso aereo (Italian for jet lag).
The small wine bar at Zanobini is filled nightly with regulars rasping away in their fiorentino accents (bascially drop the “c” from any word and you’ve got it; ‘Coca-Cola’ becomes ‘Oha-Ola’, etc.). This evening there was a lot of talk about the upcoming Italian elections in the spring, as well as a controversial proposal for a new tram line in the center of Florence.
Besides a lovely selection of wine, Zanobini has a wall of amari from Italy and beyond. Damn, I wish I’d brought a stryofoam wine shipper on this trip!