Tuesday, 29 September 2009


We were in Florence last weekend for a few days. Wonderful food, the specialty since antiquity is Tuscan Beef, great steaks, very good restaurants, thanks to our Gambero Rosso guide book (the Italian Michelin). The hotel was fine but the internet was not, you can never tell in Italy with the internet, it is very spotty in most cases and hotels do not seems to understand this new technology, they can either offer it for free or charge upwards of 22 Euros a day for the service, which will still be poor or non existent. You see the internet interfere with good old fashion socializing according to the Italians.

Florence has an incredible array of museums and art collections thanks to the Medici Family who as Grand Dukes of Tuscany and Lorraine had the power and the influence to set the tone for centuries in the art world. The family died out in 1743 but by that time their work was done and they were related by marriage to the Hapsburg of Austria, so their legacy lives on. We visited some churches and cloisters and the Pitti Palace built by Luca Pitti and bought by the Medici as their seat of government for their Duchy. They had other palaces and villas everywhere including here in Rome, the famous Villa of Cardinal Medici at the top of the Spanish steps also known as the seat of the French Academy in Rome. Many famous people lived in Florence, Dante the great Italian Poet has his house near the Duomo, Dostoyevsky wrote L'idiot in Florence, Elizabeth Browning is buried in Florence, and of course Niccolo Machiavelli who wrote the celebrated book The Prince around 1500, worked in Florence. The list of the famous artists and noteworthy persons goes on and on.

We did not try to enter the Uffizi or the Academy of Fine Arts because the lines and waiting time was far too long, 3 days in some cases, far too many tourists in town. Will and I were saying there is just so many classical paintings you can see in one's life time, we will wait for February when no one is around and return to Florence, it is only 90 minutes away from Rome. So we can go for lunch if we want.

As part of the Pitti Palace, the Boboli gardens which is the hill behind the palace is beautiful and has breathtaking views of the city. One exhibit which sort of freaked me out in the Pitti Palace, was fashions and costumes for the last 500 years, all very interesting until the last room, in it was displayed the burial clothing of Cosimo the First Medici, his wife Eleonora di Toledo and their son.

At first I did not understand what it meant or what I was looking at, I read the information sheet and it explained that in 1947 for purely ethnological reasons, the tomb of the Prince was opened, the researchers wanted to know if he and his wife and son had been buried in clothing designed for a burial or if it was simply everyday clothing of the Medici Court. What I was looking at was the clothing they wore in their mausoleum for 450 years. The clothing was removed from the corpses and is now on display or what is left of it, it is all a bit ghoulish, though it shows that it was not special clothing for the occasion of their death. The Medici family are buried in a sumptuous mausoleum of colored marbles and semi-precious stones by the Church of San Lorenzo in the center of the city. I liked the tomb of Lorenzo the Magnificent by Michaelangelo Buonaroti, beautiful, simple and un-finished, the artist left for Rome never to return to work on other projects like St-Peter's Basilica.


  1. As always,I'm fascinated by your terrific accounts of the beautiful and historic places you and Will get to visit!
    I have to admit though,I couldn't help but get a twisted grin out of the name,'Pitti(pity)Palace'..

  2. Laurent,

    Sounds like a great weekend.

    I know you weren't the model for that sculpture. Could it be a long lost French ancestor who got lost and ended up in Italy?