Friday, March 11, 2005

I mentioned we went to Florence. A famous center of art and culture, which is also the birthplace of many famous Italian heroes: Da Vinci, Dante, Machiavelli, Michelangelo. Any one of those names by itself would make a city proud, and the list goes on. These are just some of my personal champions.

Here is a picture of the famous Ponte Vecchio, well-known for its many jewelry shops lining either side of the bridge. Not an impressive picture, and you may need your magnifying glass to see the bridge, but you get the idea. As you can see, the weather wasn't sparkling, but that didn't bother us. I was impressed with the city as it was more beautiful, almost choking with statues and monuments, than I had imagined. For no particular reason, it wasn't really on my list of places to see and, really, every small town and city, as my father mentioned after a tour with my mother last Summer of many of the most touristic and not so places in Italy, is beautiful.

Winter is a great time to visit places like this, mauled year-round by tourists. The weather and time of year kept the gawkers to a minimum, but it still seemed like there were students with sketchbooks or groups of Japanese people everywhere we looked. What city worth its spit doesn't have a hungry group of International Japanese shoppers? And the center of Florence sported all kinds of popular and fashionable high-priced shops.

We climbed to the top of the dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, a massive structure which dominated almost every view of Florence. The cathedral, I think, is famous for, among other things, its white and green marble exterior. Even though the weather wasn't charming, the view from the dome was great, and the fog and cold made the city feel mysterious. This picture shows the typical architecture and layout of Florence, with the beautiful green hills in the distance.

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