Hello Fellow Travelers:
Welcome to our world of business information, adventure, birding, botanical gardens, good eating and fine wines. This newsletter provides you with “The Welge Report for Florence, Italy.
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Recognition: We extend special thanks to the people who manage and/or own the institutions, museums and restaurants featured in our guides. In some instances we have relied on their descriptions and photos.
Birding Opps: Info for our birding friends. In and near Florence, Italy you can see these species: Skylarks, Hoopoe, Bee-eaters, Sub-Alpine Warblers, and a Short-toed Eagle.
Check out the Fat Birder (fatbirder.com/links_geo/europe/italy.html) for the top birding sites in Italy.
Guided Bird Watching (guidedbirdwatching.com/venice.htm) is a good contact, especially Menotti Passarella in Tuscany.
Another name to check out is Marco Valtriani at Birding in Italy (birdinginitaly.com)
Beverages – Florence has remarkable wines, most notably the deep red wine Chianti Classico. You’ll also find fine wines like the Brunello di Montalcino, Pomino Vin Santo and other trebiano white wines, and moscadello varieties for sweet wines.
You’ll find wine festivals in Florence more often than in any European city, and during the summer they run almost every week. In addition, every restaurant, every cafe, sometimes every vendor on the street sells Florence’s best wines.
Transportation: This is your site for public transportation (firenzeturismo.it/en/getting-around/in-bus.html)
Shopping: For the well known Italian designers check out the Santa Maria Novella district. Smaller budgets need to look at the Piazza della Republica. Foodies can check out the Mercado Centrale in the San Lorenzo district.
Florence is known for its leather goods, perfumes and marbled stationery.
Exchange Rates (http://www.x-rates.com/
Day One: Our Cousin Biaggio suggests a visit to the Piazza Duomo where we find Il Duomo – Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore M-Sa: 10-5, Su: 1:30-4:45, 055 215380, Giotto’s Campanile and the Baptistery.
Construction on Il Duomo began in 1296 and was completed in 1887. Needless to say some authorized alterations took place. The austere Gothic interior is credited to the preaching of Girolamo Savonarola.
However, there are many important works of art to view. Notables include: busts of Giotto by Benedetto da Majano and Brunelleschi by Buggiano.
The church is notable for its 44 stained glass windows. The windows in the aisles and in the transept depict saints from the Old and the New Testaments, while the circular windows in the drum of the dome or above the entrance depict Christ and Mary.
They are the work of the greatest Florentine artists of their time, such as Donatello, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Paolo Uccello and Andrea del Castagno.
The frescoes of the Last Judgement were designed by Giorgio Vasari and painted by Frederico Zuccari.
Part of this complex is Giotto’s Campanile or Bell Tower. Giotto, Brunelleschi and Alberti were the fathers of Renaissance architecture. The art in the Campanile are copies. The originals are in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo.
Another part of this complex is the Baptistry of St. John. Its Florentine style provided the basis for Renaissance architecture.
The Baptistry is known for its three sets of bronze doors featuring relief sculptures named the “Gates of Paradise” by Michaelangelo.
Today you lunch at Osteria Santo Spirito – L & D: Daily, Piazza Santo Spirito, 19 r, 39 055 238 2383
The antipasti is a favorite and also the bruschetta with artichokes. Share the pasta with mussels and peppers. The gnocchi with truffle cream sauce could be shared also.
Go for the house wine. Dessert is their tiramisu.
Time for a garden walk in the Bardini Gardens – Daily: 8:45-5, da Costa San Giorgio 2, 39 055 2006 6206
The Bardini Gardens have three areas of interest: a flight of steps that is fringed with irises that ascends to a hilltop has great views of Florence, an English garden with a water feature titled “Channel of the Dragon” and a farming area with terraces that are planted with olive trees.
Sculptures are scattered throughout the property.
The Bardini Museum dates from the 16th century and has two galleries. One has dresses and drawings and the other 120 paintings by Pietro Annigoni. There is a charming café.
After all of this walking it’s the perfect time to visit Il Gelato Vivoli – M-Sa: 7:30-12 AM, Su: 8-9, Via Dell’Isola delle Stinche, 7r, 39 055 292334
This is the best gelato on our planet in our opinion. We favor either the stracciatella or the pistachio. Alas no cones!
Your choice for dinner is Il Santo Bevitore – L: M-Sa, D: Tu-Su, Via di Santo Spirito, 64/66, 39 055 211264
Start with a glass of prosecco to enhance your chicken liver crostini. Sharing is a good idea here, and the first choice is a burrata served on sautéed spinach followed by the octopus with sun chokes, hazelnuts and turnips.
Then the duck in a red wine sauce with foie gras mousse and radicchio.
An ’03 Chianti Classico Riserva by Villa DiGeggiano will compliment these choices. The chocolate mousse with bananas is dessert.
Day Two: Breakfast is at the Café Le Giubbe Rosa – B,L,D: Daily, Piazza della Repubblica, 13/14r, 39 055 212280
Coffee and pastries to go with poets and authors amidst a treasure of art and books. This is Florence’s answer to the Café de Flore in Paris.
The second stop this morning is The Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze – Tu-Su: 8-6:30, Via Bettino Ricasoli, 60, 055 294883
The Galleria dell’Accademia has housed the original David by Michelangelo since 1873.
The gallery’s small collection of Michelangelo’s work includes his four unfinished Prisoners, intended for the tomb of Pope Julius II and a statue of Saint Matthew, also unfinished.
Other works on display are Florentine paintings from the 15th and 16th centuries, including works by Paolo Uccello, Domenico, Sandro Botticelli and Andrea del Sarto.
From the High Renaissance is Giambologna’s original plaster for the Rape of the Sabine Women.
Let’s do lunch at ‘Ino – B & L: Daily, 7r via de’ Georgofili, 055.219208
Sandwiches are the main choices here. The panino with gorgonzola and fig mustard or the ciabatta with grilled zuchinni, robiola and sausage spread are tasty and filling.
But the panini with Tuscan salami, sheep cheese and tangy mustard looks oh, so good.
A glass of house wine adds the final touch.
Our plan takes you to the The Brancacci Chapel - Piazza del Carmine, located in the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine, however, access is gained through a neighboring convent.
The chapel is famous for the pictorials commissioned by Felice Brancacci, who first hired Masolino da Penicale and his assistant Masaccio.
Masaccio’s skills far out paced his mentor’s, but he died at age 27. Portions of the frescoes were then completed by Filippino Lippi.
Masaccio’s frescoes are famous for furthering the Renaissance painting movement. Michelangelo was one of many students who learned his craft by copying Masaccios work in this chapel.
The Pitti Palace – Tu-Su: 8:15-6:50, Piazza de Pitti, 1, 39 055 294883
Ii is comprised of several museums and a garden. They include: The Palatine Gallery – that features the Medici Collection with works by Raphael, Titian, Correggio, Rubens, Pietro da Cortona and other Italian and European masters of the Renaissance and Baroque periods.
The Gallery of Modern Art – has a collection of paintings and sculpture dating from the late 18th century to World War I plus works by artists of the Macchiaioli movement and of other Italian schools of the later 19th and early 20th centuries.
The Costume Gallery has six thousand items including costumes dating from the 16th to the 20th centuries, theatre costumes and accessories.
A selection is exhibited in rotation every two years and it’s constantly renewing its installations thanks to donations from private owners and State acquisitions.
In the Porcelain Museum we see the most beautiful porcelain of Europe, owned by Pietro Leopoldo and Ferdinand III.
This collection was enriched by the arrival of other porcelain from the historical palaces of Parma, Piacenza and Sala Baganza.
The Medici Treasury houses the semi precious stone vases of Lorenzo the Magnificent, the cameos of Cosimo I, the rock crystal objects of Francesco I, the ambers of Maria Maddalena d’Austria, the ivory vases of Mattia de Medici and the jewelry collection that belonged to Anna Maria Luisa, the last member of the Medici Family.
Just behind behind the Pitti Palace are the Boboli Gardens. They were originally designed for the Medici and are one of the earliest examples of an Italian Garden.
The gardens extend over a large area creating an open-air museum with Renaissance statues, grottoes and large fountains.
Tonight you have a special dinner at L’Osteria di Giovanni – L: Sa,Su, D: Nightly, Via del Moro, 22, 39 055 284897
For your starter share Giovanni’s antipasto with prosciutto and a selection of home-cured salami, crostini with liver paté, tomato bruschetta and fresh ricotta cheese.
A glass or two of ’10 Spumante Brut from Punta Crena will be fine.
Then it’s the tortelli stuffed with mozzarella and basil served with cream of zucchini and zucchini blossoms or the rabbit braised in local red wine with green olives served with sautéed greens.
Order the ’08 Colleoni Brunello di Montalcino for your wine. For dessert it’s an adventure of pineapple carpaccio – pineapple shavings served with lemon sorbet and red peppers
Day Three: Breakfast is targeted for La Vespe Cafe - – B,L,D: Daily, Via Ghibellina, 76, 39 055 388 0062
Specials are the French toast or pancakes with strawberry compote, fruit bowl, yogurt, granola, bacon and eggs.
This morning head for the Uffizi Gallery – Tu-Su: 8:15-6:30, Piazzale degli Uffizi, 6, 39 055 238 8651
The Uffizi is one of the most popular attractions in Florence. In high season the waiting time can be five hours.
You can reserve in advance. Tickets can also be purchased from a lesser-used ticket window at the Orasanmichele that serves multiple museums.
Artists works here include: Duccio, Giotto, Ucello, Lippi, Botticelli, da Vinci, Durer, Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Bellini and many more.
Here’s an experience – lunch at Antica Trattoria da Tito – L & D: M-Sa, Via San Gallo, 112r, 39 055 472475
Be prepared for large portions, noise and a lot of fun. Share the antipasti and proceed to the kale pesto pasta or the burrata mozzarella on spinach.
Then to the very rare (the only way they prepare it) Bestecca Florentine.
Wash it down with the house chianti. The tiramisu comes with a bottle of lemoncello that you share with the staff.
The Bargello National Musuem – Daily: 8:15-2, Via del Proconsolo, 4, 39 055 238 8606
The National Museum has its setting in one of the oldest buildings in Florence that dates back to 1255. The building’s use as National Museum began in the mid-19th century.
Today it is the setting for works of sculpture and for many examples of “minor” Gothic decorative arts.
The rooms on the ground floor exhibit 16th century Tuscan works, focusing in particular on four masterpieces by Michelangelo: Bacchus, the relief representing a Madonna with Child, Brutus and David-Apollo.
This is followed by works of Andrea Sansovino, Jacopo Sansovino, Baccio Bandinelli, Bartolomeo Ammannati, Benvenuto Cellini and Giambologna with his Mercury.
The bronze animals that were originally placed in the grotto of the Medici villa of Castello are now displayed on the staircases.
Although there are many more sites to visit in Florence one special view is from the Piazzale Michelangelo. Here you have Florence with the Tuscan hills providing a back drop.
For a suitable finish to your Mini-Holiday in Florence have a gelato at Grom – Daily: 10:30 AM – Midnight, Via del Campanile, 2, 39 055 216158
Grom also could be the best gelato in Florence. You can make your decision, but let us know.
Until next time, best wishes and happy travels,
Dick & Dee Welge
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