July 4, 2010 – Independence Day
Wow, we have been busy. Yesterday, we visited Florence. Honestly, all of the old towns are starting to run together for me. Megan may have a different perspective. Florence is a big modern city with a big old city in the center, that’s been made modern. So you have modern life happening in a historical skeleton. From the clock tower, you could see where old towers that had partially fallen down were converted capped with a roof and made into homes or apartments. I guess if these towns want to keep their historical heritage and still survive, they have to make do with what they have.
Megan and I have had a few discussions about how it’s sad to see so many vendors selling trinkets outside every major historical location. I started to think about that as we were walking around the Duomo or as I called it, “another big old church” in Florence and imagined what it may have been like years ago when the towns were modern. I imagined that they had the same street vendors and markets selling all sorts of stuff, good and bad. So, in my mind, nothing has really changed. Everywhere there’s a buck to be made, there will people trying to scam you with junk as well as legitimate goods that are worth obtaining. The trick is just to be patient and learn to spot the junk and avoid it. I can’t say that I’ve mastered that art yet, but I’m trying and getting lots of practice.
As you may know, Florence is known for its leather. They say if you are going to get a good deal on leather, then Florence is where it’s at. I really love leather goods but I know that there are lot of varieties to choose from in various grades. I’ve done some research on the options and feel like a somewhat informed shopper. We decided to try to find a new briefcase/laptop bag for me and a purse for Megan. We shopped the various booths and saw a lot of very nice stuff and some junk. We ended up in a shop called Pitti Leather where I bought a bag. I was able to negotiate the price down, though I didn’t try that hard – I think I got 25 Euros off. Anyway, I think we chose wisely, but only time will tell. Megan wasn’t as lucky in finding a purse but there were some decent prospects.
Oh, I almost forgot the best part of Florence. David! Michelangelo’s masterpiece. One writer wrote that after seeing the statue of David, there’s no need to see another sculpture. We spent most of an hour just looking at the statue. It’s quite large but we weren’t allowed to take photos. We did see the replica of it later that I got pictures of. David is a statue of King David from the Bible following his defeat of Goliath. I haven’t checked for the accuracy of the portrayal, but here’s what the statue symbolizes. David is standing naked before the defeated Philistine army in perfect form with his small, understated sling over his shoulder. His hands and head are disproportionately large and his pupils are actually heart shaped. The idea is that David defeated Goliath with intellect and he reflects love toward his enemy. Something like that. Needless to say, there’s a lot to it and that statue is amazing.
Overall, Florence was similar to Paris in its ancient modernity. Not very “old” feeling but it still had nice character.