Wednesday, November 23, 2011
On Sept 21, 2011 ten people joined me on a trip to Tuscany, Italy. The theme of the trip was called, “Eat, Walk Meditate” (OK, I borrowed the concept... from a great book). Our group was composed primarily of nurses with a theme called “Care for the Caregiver,” a personal growth workshop with morning sessions in meditation, guided imagery, music therapy, restorative yoga and morning walks. The rest of the time was spent sight seeing, drinking in the culture and eating some incredible food. Over the course of 9 days we all became close friends. In fact, we all decided to bond our friendship with friendship bracelets, one of many wonderful memories from the trip.
Florence is an incredible city. It is hard to put into words just how great this city really is, but everyone should visit Florence at least once in their lives to see for themselves. The culture, the art, the museums, the food and so much more... it's a very friendly pedestrian city with cobblestone streets, loads of shops and buskers playing all kinds of great music. Its kind of like Boulder on steroids. It was a great way to start our trip...and the weather in September was wonderful.
This is the famous Duomo, also known as the Cathedral of Florence. The amount of artwork and detail on the exterior is simply amazing, and must been seen first hand to really appreciate its splendor. You can also walk up a series of narrow winding steps to the top to get a great view of the city. As it turns out, Siena and Florence are (and have been for centuries) rivals. The Duomo in Siena is even more spectacular.
After exploring the city, we gathered together for the first of our many celebratory dinners. This one was at Giovanni's restaurant and the seven-course meal was indescribable, but let me try... UNREAL. Fantastic food, and the spinach flan was simply AMAZING. I cannot wait to go back next year. Thanks, Giovanni!
For some people, this bridge may need no introduction. It is the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge, centuries old and beholden to a great many stories. When first built, its stores housed butchers, who would throw the chopped up remains over into the water. Yuck! It wasn't long before this caused a huge pollution problem. Eventually, these merchants were removed and over time gold merchants took their places, as you will see today. We learned that this is one bridge Hitler's men didn't bomb as they made a hasty exit from Italy at the end of WWII.
It is said that the Tuscany region contains about 60-70% of the world's art treasures, including this one, joined by several other marble statues housed under a loggia near the clock tower. Unbelievable craftsmanship in the making of these carved statues. Again... you have to see it for yourself to really appreciate the work of people like Michaelangelo and his contemporaries.
Walking the streets of Florence, you will come across several street artists, many of whom will simply amaze you. You may notice a dish or a hat to place a Euro in, and I think it is well worth it. This city is oozing with artistic talent, all outside your hotel door as you wander the cobblestone streets of Firenze. Don't forget your camera!