Florence, or Firenza as they say, is a required stop for any newbie traveling Italy. It is big on the museum side with the Uffizi Gallery, among many, and one certainly needs to see the most famous sculpture in the world, Michelangelo’s David. This iconic statue has had a hard life. When first unveiled it was greeted with jeering, rock throwing and general disapproval. Later, during some riot in the 1500’s a bench was tossed at David which broke the left arm in three places. Still later a crazed, jealous artist smashed the toe with a hammer. It was also greatly damaged by a museum cleaning with hydrochloric acid. The statue sat outside in the elements for over a hundred years. David stands proudly today in the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, alone in a large open room built just for it.
Florence’s tourist attractions are compact enough that one does not need a car or taxi rides to visit them. However, Florence is where the heat of Italy caught up with us. Our week stay was made much more pleasant with a beautiful view of the famous Duomo from our balcony and our very gracious hosts.
Among our self guided tours was the (mansion) ‘house of Medici.’ The Medici family was a political dynasty of bankers and all around successful merchants. When not hiring and supporting world-class artists like Botticelli, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo and mathematician Galileo, they invented the double entry accounting system. It seems like they spent an inordinate amount of money having their ceiling painted by artists with wild imaginations. Likely, not too many angels fighting green demons are called for in interior design work these days, but their sprawling house was full of such art work on the ceiling. After inventing the basics of today’s accounting, maybe they needed a little excitement and diversion when returning home.
The Arno River flows through Florence and occasionally floods the city and its fine artwork. Before the unification of Italy, it is said the men of Florence would ‘pee with gusto’ into the Arno River, knowing that Pisa, their competing town for power and commerce, was downstream. When I went down to the river at sunrise, I mostly saw young revelers leaning upon each other for stability, slowly working their way home. The black and white photo could have been taken hundreds of years ago and looked no different.