Spending two whole days at the Milan Furniture Fair made me tired not only physically but also mentally after dragging myself from one exhibit to another looking at different kinds of office furniture that ranged from the practical to the sublime. I said enough of this – am going to get myself a dose of some real art and culture!
And that’s when I decided to drive all the way to the Vatican and Rome, 575 kms. away, quite late at night. The Italian Autostrada is a great motorway that helps get you from Point A to Point B pretty quickly and efficiently with no fuss. It’s also a place where you get startled by Lamborghinis and Ferraris whizzing down the concrete ribbon like nobody’s business. So when a yellow Lambo overtook me, I stepped on the gas and tried to keep pace to see how fast it was, only to see it receding quicker into the distance ahead of me. I looked at my puny Nissan Micra’s speedometer and it read almost 200KPH! Well, I also realized that I had made an unintended wrong turn and was now headed for Florence. Should I backtrack or just head there as well? I decided on the latter, curious as I was to see it at night compared to the last time when I visited it in broad daylight.
The Duomo and its humongous dome.
Ponte Vecchio minus the tourists.
I arrived before the clock struck 12:00 and though it was pretty late, the main square around the Duomo was still bustling with activity so I was still able to grab a plate of spaghetti bolognese at a nearby cafe topped with orange gelato for dessert.
The history of Florence, capital of Tuscany, has been linked with the powerful Medici family who made it the center of Renaissance art and architecture. Nowhere is this more palpable than in the Uffizi Gallery where a whole day of wandering wasn’t enough for me to see everything that I wanted to see on an earlier visit. There was Botticelli’s Venus de Milo, Da Vinci’s The Annunciation, Caravaggio’s Bacchus…the list is endless! Outside the Museum stands a staggering array of sculptures at Loggia dela Signoria close to Palazzo Vecchio where tourists mill around trying to assimilate the beauty of the arts around them.
People still were out past midnight on the cathedral’s square enjoying the sights and patronizing the numerous cafes.
Look at all that detail on the Cathedral’s facade!
The side of the Cathedral under renovation.
The other attraction is the Duomo (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore) whose huge dome by Brunelleschi was studied by Michelangelo when he designed St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The ceiling frescoes by Giotto and the exterior walls as well as the Baptistry are so intricately designed that you could spend hours just looking at the details. That is, if you don’t suffer from Stendhal’s syndrome first – a disorder causing dizzy spells when exposed to an overwhelming amount of beautiful art.
One of the arched entrances.
The detail continues all throughout the rear facade.
Seems like a painting.
Up in the nearby hill overlooking Florence, you will find David’s statue in Michelangelo Square and admire the city including the iconic Ponte Vecchio that spans the Arno River and the surrounding Florentine mountains.
Where would Firenze be without its ubiquitous gelato?
Two views of David in Michelangelo Piazza.
One last shot before continuing on to Roma.
Of course, I saw them all at night and they looked startlingly different under the floodlights and without the horde of tourists that normally descend upon this city. It was peaceful and calm and revealed a better version of itself. I spent a couple of hours appreciating it much more before leaving in the dead of the night before the break of dawn….