The Palazzo Vecchio is the town hall of Florence and stands like a fortress in the Piazza della Signoria. The Palazzo Vecchio is also called the Palazzo della Signoria. There is a museum in the building that is really worthwhile.In 1540 Duke Cosimo I di Medici moved his residence to the Palazzo Vecchio. He was married to Eleanor of Toledo and in the museum you can view rooms of hers as well as some of the art work, sitting rooms, and reception rooms of the home.The entrance to the first courtyard is beautiful and is open for entrance and viewing before you get to the ticket office. The ticket office is located in the second courtyard.The Salone dei Cinquecento is an impressive meeting room with frescoes by Vasari and sculptures by Michelangelo and Giambologna.The room didn’t always look like it did today, and Girolamo Savonarola was responsible for ordering many of the architectural changes.Under one of these frescoes, it is believed that there is a Leonardo di Vinci painting. There is much controversy about whether to take down the Vasari to look for this painting, and National Geographic has done extensive research regarding its presence.We were able to visit the Studiolio which is only open by reservation. This small room just of the Salon dei Cinquecento housed many treasures within the wooden walls which covers cabinets.The rooms of Eleanor are decorated with Botticelli’s paintings and other masters and there are lovely views from the palace windows.There is a large map room which is really incredible and fun to see the perspective of the world at that time. At least they didn’t still think it was flat!The museum is opened every day except Thursday 9-7 except in the summer months it is opened until midnight. On Thursday’s it is opened from 9-2. The cost to enter is 6.50 for the museum, 6.50 for the tower, or there is a combination ticket for both at 10 euro. This is a worthwhile visit when you are in Florence. Go and take a look for yourself!
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Last year I attended midnight Mass at The Duomo, and really didn’t enjoy it all that much, so this year decided to do something that I thought might be slightly more familiar. We went to Saint Marks English Church (the Church of England) on via Maggio, 16. You can find the door just under the British flag that is flying outside. Not being a religious person, I am always entering these events for the experience, and specifically I wanted to sing the Christmas Carols of my youth!This was my first time entering this church and it was a lovely surprise. Built in an old palazzo, of course, it dates back to 1880 and is in the Renaissance style. It is small and beautiful, and was full of people. The mass was in typical Anglican style, similar, but not exactly like the Episcopal style of my early adulthood….but, what’s up with the incense? That seems a health hazard and I had an allergy attack and others around me were coughing and choking while the many blessings of the communion bread and wine, as well as the cradle were going on.The sermon was short and sweet and hopeful, but funny how these always end up being too “religious” for me. I had a great time singing the Christmas Carols though! Mission accomplished! If you enjoy attending services when you are traveling or staying in Florence, you just might enjoy it here at Saint Mark’s.
The end of the year always brings a plethora of emotions for me for many reasons. My oldest son was born on December 31st, so of course, I am thinking of that, and how much time has passed since I welcomed him into the world. He spent many years of his childhood thinking that all of the celebratory activities leading up to welcoming the New Year where all about him! I was so young then! Now, here he is, 10 years older than I was when he was born! Now he probably has memories of me when I was his age, which is always a strange phenomenon as a child. It gives a different perspective to your parent and makes them somehow more of a “real” person.
As the year ends and so does the seasons of festivities, I have a certain sense of post holiday depression, followed by a sense of extreme relief that life can get “back to normal”, whatever that is. Things that I put off doing during November and December really have to be considered now in the New Year. That also brings a sense of anticipation which happens to be my favorite emotion. There is nothing like the feeling you get when you are planning a vacation, a trip to a new museum, taking a class, seeing an old friend, etc. I just love “looking forward” to things!
That being said, the New Year brings a time of reflection also. What did I not do this year, or in my life time, that I need to consider for the future? New Year’s Resolutions. I take them very seriously. In fact, one of my New Year’s Resolutions led me on my path to living in Italy. The resolution itself was “I want to live somewhere else, and do something different.” At that point in my life, I was living in Nashville and had been there 3 years. I had moved there after my youngest son moved out to go to college, and my husband and I got a divorce, for a promotional opportunity with my company. While it had been good to be back around family during that period and the new position took my career to new levels, I was bored with both of them, and needed a change. One thing led to another and I took a year sabbatical to live in Italy and learn the language. After that, my whole purpose in life was around making plans to live here.
Someone decided that the Mayans had predicted the end of the world because their calendar ended on a certain date this year. Thankfully that didn’t happen, but as I thought about it and asked myself, if the world ended today would I be satisfied with my life, I decided that the answer was yes! I haven’t done everything that I want to do, and probably never will, but am happy and proud of the things I have done and the accomplishments that I have made so far. No regrets is how I try to live.
This year, feeling more “settled” in my new home, I am getting very ambitious about what I want to accomplish this year. There is more travel in my plans, an art history course, volunteer work, and additional education around my writing skills. I want to write a book! So, as this year ends, I think about my life in retrospect and for the future. What a rich, thoughtful, celebratory time of year! Let’s go 2013! Happy New Year!
Dante Alighieri born in Florence in 1265 is represented throughout the city. His contributions to Italy and the Italian language are numerous despite the fact that Florence expelled him from the city over a political dispute in 1306 and Dante never returned to his “hometown”.During Dante’s time in Florence, he would sit near the Duomo and watch the construction of the cupola which had only recently started. While he watched he sat and thought and wrote. This plaque marks the location of where the stone allegedly was at 54, Piazza del Duomo.The stone, with the plate inscribed with the plate saying “Il vero sasso di Dante”, which means the true stone of Dante is located in the small Piazza delle Pallattole nearby. I suspect the restaurant in this piazza called, Sasso di Dante is responsible for the actual stone!
He wrote his most famous work, The Divine Comedy in Ravenna, and was called “The Father of the Italian Language”. After his death in 1321, there was an argument over where the body of Dante should be buried….in his birthplace, Florence, or the location of his most famous work, Ravenna. Ravenna won, and so the remains of Dante are buried there. In Florence, where they still claim him as their native son, there is a memorial in Santa Croce.