Some Odd things To Do In Florence – Part II



This is an extended version of a guest blog I wrote for – the rest will (eventually!) follow in another blog


The gypsy didn’t draw breath. Curses both florid and impressive showered down upon me and my descendants – a possibility my guidebook had failed to mention. The gypsy opened my eyes, however, to the fact Florence offers far more than any guidebook can suggest.


Padlock The Duomo


Vasari’s frescos

The views are reason enough to climb the Duomo’s 463 stairs. Impressively, many Italian women manage this feat in heels. In unobtrusive corners in the stairwell I found marks left from the medieval builders. Then, on descending, I traversed the inner ceiling at the height of the gods, at times almost a hand’s breadth away from Vasari’s frescos.

The steepest part of climb the Duomo is over the arch. This is the place to find lovelocks – padlocks placed by couples who then throw away the key, so declaring their undying love. Once I saw the padlocks, I discovered many more; one or two on a grille covering a window, on an opening, or an inconspicuous bar. The masses of lovelocks on the Ponte Vecchio are renowned (as they are on the Pont des Arts in Paris, and as frequently removed), yet placing one here, in the heights of the Duomo, felt incredibly personal.

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A Garden in Fiesole



I sat soaking up the sun in a small walled garden. Tumbling geraniums held the moss-covered stones together, just as they did most of this hillside town. The drone of bees left the air heavy. Once formal garden paths weaved towards a statue of the Virgin, who stood forgotten in the centre of the garden. A rose branch crept out to tenderly embrace her.

Persimmons in the convent garden
Persimmons in the convent garden

Autumn sunshine danced through the trees, with midges floating contentedly in the warmth of its wake. Church bells floated up from the city. Below me, the Duomo rose above the purple haze of Florence. I hadn’t expected the cathedral to dominate the skyline so. Maybe when it was first built, but not in the twenty-first century.

Some forty-eight hours ago my plane had landed in darkness. Flying anywhere from Australia takes forever, and I’d spent a lifetime suspended in that metal cocoon. At four in the morning Rome airport lay deep asleep – except the barista, his immaculate attire completed by an elegant three-day growth. He slid an espresso across the polished counter to me, and in minutes the potent brew had shattered through the layers of cobwebs numbing my brain. Continue Reading →

Unusual And Different Things To Do In Florence

The Arno at dusk

This is an extended version of a guest blog I wrote for – the rest will (eventually!) follow in another blog


See A Painting Finished By An Angel

The Piazza Santissima Annunziata is one of Florence’s most picturesque squares. It was designed by Brunelleschi, who also designed the two main buildings, the Spedale degli Innocenti (Hospital of the Innocents) and the Bascilica della Santissima Annunziata, the mother church of the Servite order. In the 14th C the Servites commissioned The Annunciation from the Dominican friar and artist Fra Bartolomeo. A master of sfumato, Fra Bartolomeo combined his religious beliefs with a fresh realism and emotional depth, and during his lifetime his paintings decorated churches and monasteries across Florence, Venice and Lucca. Continue Reading →

Walking With Dante in Florence

Dante began The Divine Comedy in 1308, while exiled from his beloved Florence. The pain of this banishment surfaces in his writing: You shall leave everything you love most, this is the arrow the bow or exile shoots first. (Paradiso, XVII). The poet never returned to his native city; even the tomb built for him in 1829 in Sante Croce remains empty. Yet were Dante to return to Florence today, much of the city would be familiar to him.100_0140 - Version 2

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The Museo Gallileo, Florence

A Quiet Corner In Florence

9179587_f248               On the banks of the Arno, close to the Ponte Vecchio, stands a small and often missed museum. Hidden from the crowds milling outside the nearby Uffizi, the Museo Galileo – Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza sits undisturbed in the quiet of the Piazza de’ Guidici, a tranquil backwater in the heart of Renaissance Florence. The Ponte Vecchio is a few minutes away, as is the Uffizi and the Palazzo Vecchio. In the Piazza del Limbo stands the Santi Apostoli, founded by Charlemagne and one of the oldest surviving churches in Florence.

               The museum’s origins are centuries old. It is housed in the 12th century Palazzo Castellini, which was known to Dante as the Castello d’Altafronte. (The Altafrontes were an important Florentine family involved in establishing the cloth trade, fundamental to the city’s growing economy.) In 1657, in memory of the recently deceased Galileo Galilei, the city of Florence founded the world’s first scientific institution, the Accademia del Cimento – The Academy for Experimentation. This beginning fostered a passion not only for the discovery of scientific knowledge and principles, but also for their application in all areas of human understanding.


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