This morning we slept in and it was glorious. Exploring Tuscany can take it outta you and it was a nice recharge this morning. We made breakfast and did some work, then popped down the street to the sandal shop, and then across the river to explore a little and grab a cappuccino.
This afternoon at 2pm we met up with most of the wedding group to do a walking tour of Florence. We all met in front of the palazzo where the bride and groom are staying, just one block over on Via Maggio, the Palazzo Ricasoli.
Palazzo Ridolfi was designed by Italian architect and sculptor Baccio d'Agnolo.
Across the street on Via Maggio, there's a lovely example of one of my favorite styles of architectural decoration: Sgraffito. This building is the Palazzo di Bianca Cappello, and has some good Medici dirt history associated with it.
We wandered around listening to our fantastic tour guide, Cindy, as she skillfully gave an art and architecture of Florence tour to a group largely consisting of artists, art historians, and architects. Impressive!
The Palazzo Strozzi courtyard:
Ironwork on the outside, done by Florentine blacksmith Niccolo Grosso. Grosso was referred to as "Il Caparra" (which means "The Deposit" — due to his always asking for an advance before starting any actual work).
Beautiful iron work on this building, inside and out!
We wandered over toward the Duomo and were able to pop into the Cathedral to see the interior from the ground floor (which was cool, because when we visited before we only saw the cathedral from up inside the dome).
Dome from below:
Today we learned about how this dome was engineered (by Filippo Brunelleschi), and it's remarkable, really. More info here if you're into that stuff.
We made a stop at the Palazzo Vecchio — the town hall of Florence and the location for Thursday's wedding. The Palazzo Vecchio is a giant fortress/palace that overlooks the Palazzo della Signoria, has a copy of Michelangelo's David out front (replacing the original which is now inside the Gallerie dell'Accademia but stood here for several hundred years), and is one of Tuscany's most impressive public spaces.
The ceilings/columns/walls inside the entrance:
And…fake David's butt:
A few more modified street signs:
We learned from our fabulous guide that these are the work of a French artist named Clet. Apparently this was not okay at first and the city kept removing the signs, but people complained and now they let them be. They're wonderful and whimsical, and everyone can still read "Do Not Enter" and "Go This Way" … so why not let them be?
We ended the tour at Gilli Cafe on the Piazza Repubblica (one of the oldest cafes in Florence…opened in 1733) for drink and a snack with most of the group…such fun! We left a bit early to meet our new friends Andrea and Beppe (of the 500 Touring Club) over in the Oltrarno for an apertif near Santo Spirito…we love these guys! Great people, running a great company…seriously…their tour in vintage Fiats is highly recommended. I wish we could have done it twice while here! (Mostly just so we could have more time hanging out with them! Hi guys!!)
On our way back toward the apartment as we were passing Santo Spirito, there was a side door opening into a cool courtyard area, and I decided we should go in and check it out. Kevin followed and it was quickly apparent we were crashing some church thing. No one seemed to care, and I took a couple of sneaky photos:
Also, cool shiny red new Vespa by textured really old door:
We headed over to where we thought we'd have dinner tonight: Il Santo Bevitore (where I had octopus a week ago and it was SO GOOD).
Awwww, full up. Second choice: Trattoria Casalinga, back where we started at Santo Spirito: awwwww, full up. (We didn't even ask, the place was tiny and there were about a dozen people standing, waiting.) Third choice: Olio e Convivium back near our apartment. Awwww, three strikes! (It was 8:15pm). Plan D: Osteria Il Cantinone…down a bunch of stairs into a caveish place (and yay, room for us!)…good house wine, stuffed zucchini flowers, ravioli with pesto, pappa al pomodoro, and a grilled chicken dish..all solid and plenty good.
Today was a really nice, chill day in Florence. (Oh yeah, and it was also kinda cool, and windy, and it rained this morning…totally different than every other sunny/warm day we've had since we've been there…the first day I've worn long sleeves!)
Tomorrow we'll pack our bikes into their suitcases and work on figuring out how to bring all the stuff we bought home. Tomorrow evening is the cocktail party over at the wedding party palazzo, which should be a blast, and Thursday at 12:30 the wedding day festivities begin at Palazzo Vecchio and will continue into the evening at the Antica Torre di Via Tornabuoni for reception and dinner with fantastic views of Florence. Friday morning early, we fly home…booooo. I really love Italy and could easily stay WAY longer. Guess we'll need to come back!