From the breathtaking view of the Dolomite Mountain in Cortina, northern Italy, we descended going to our main destination- Florence or Firenze, to the locals. The grandeur of the Dolomites, the perfect alpine amongst the rest of the alps, was a panoramic sensuality from the moment I laid my eyes to its changing colors.
While the sun rises, the orange to deep coral color was amasingly a visual palette, and was informed that every ascend of the sun the mountain color changes, as the group took continental breakfast consisting of few hotdogs, scrumbled eggs, hot coffee and cheese.
We walk around the beautiful landscape of Cortina, feeling , breathing the freshest air from the alps. It was a feast of the eyes..the mountain terrain with those lovely cone pines ..evergreen glades…and the so picture perfect chateau houses with and early smoke coming out from the chimney..well that was.
I deeply anticipated my Florence..meeting,looking it for the first time. I remembered my English 2 class in FEU MANILA, the renaissance, Dante, Michelangelo and de Vinci, the underground art so they called it during the roman times.
Here, street art comes in watercolours and Mediterranean tans….especially the men. The latter being those Florentine of crooked smiles and liquid eyes. If they languidly trail you for attention, please give it. It is as close as you will ever get to the original David…italian men are famous for their deep tantalizing machismo…ask Leonardo..not Caprio darling…de Vinci!
The view from of Florence from every direction was breathtaking. The splendour of Florence from Torre di Bellosguardo, a 14th century Florentine castle, nestled amidst whispering trees and sunshine daisies, was indeed a sight that could make you levitate. But I was in Renaissance city…the cradle of civilisation, where masters of craft – Michelangelo and Machiavelli – both had lived. This is the city where my favorite statue David stood by the famous Michelangelo. Surely the master dipsomaniac himself would forgive me.
So, I walked down a winding road to Piazza del Duomo, constantly tearing myself away from little cafés that lured me with mouthfuls of heaven.
Ah, the smells and sounds of Florence! Men smell like fresh basil and the bread’s so warm it makes your toes curl. If you are supremely lucky, some may flirt with you, else despair not, everybody has its own ciao bello certainly. Like our hearts, the city is incredibly arterial, pumped with the full-bloodedness that comes from drinking great wine and eating heartily….mamma mia!!!!!!
So, at the Piazza, sprawled in the brilliance of the summer sun, is the octagonal green and white Baptistry, a marvel of Early Renaissance. The East Door of the Baptistry called the Gates of Paradise (so named by Michelangelo) depicts scenes from the Old Testament. Step back a bit from the Baptistry and breath in the grandeur of Giotto’s Bell Tower.
Every serpentine road, every narrow alley smacks of a formidable past, reminding you in our terror-torn days that art survives all. As you marvel at the Cathedral di Santa Maria, remember its creators – Cambio, Giotto, Pisano and Brunelleschi – maestros of cultural supremacy. Search out the panel depicting Dante and his Divine Comedy. And sigh. What a wonderful world…seing those past remarkable arts…wow indeed.
Giambologna’s The Rape of the Sabine Women
HERCULES & CACUS statues
Florence is a city museum. Walking around Piazza Della Signoria is like being in an open air sculpture museum. I Look around… there is Cellini’s Perseus, the son of Jupiter who killed macabre Medusa with the help of borrowed weapons. Pluto’s helmet of invisibility, Mercury’s winged sandals and Minerva’s shield helped him reduce the snake-haired monster to dust.
here is Giambologna’s heart-rending Rape of the Sabine Women( i love this one!). Look to your left and the sculptural rhapsody of Neptune rising from the Fountain surrounded by nereids (nymphs of the sea), tritons (trumpeters of the sea) and sea horses will keep you mesmerised…the camera couldn’t stop clicking!
Then head to Cibreo, on Via de’Macci. It is said, “a pot of hot bubbling polenta is the culinary equivalent of an artist’s canvas, waiting for a cook to contribute his or her magic.”
Sta. Maria del Fiore
Cathedral del Croce-here buried DANTE/MICHELANGELO& DE VINCI
Cibreo’s world famous polenta, and its maitre d’ who sweeps from one table to another with the flair of a ballerina, cajoling here every tourist to taste la dolce vita.
Work out the pasta. Go down Ponte Vecchio, or ‘Old Bridge’, the only
bridge that survived Nazi bombing. The picturesque little shops that line it were once occupied by butchers, but were later assigned by Cosimo I to goldsmiths. Amidst all the dazzling gold and silver, I chanced upon a peculiar little store, Acquafredda, that sold me the most precious crucifix!
Little bit tired we end our day with the city at your feet from Piazza del Michelangelo where all of Florence embraces you within its twilight haze. And remember, a trip to the Uffizi Gallery the next, will leave you stunned before such masterpieces as Titian’s Venus of Urbino or Botticelli’s Allegory of Spring…and you can stop praying. You may be in heaven….amore!! But, one last thing. For the sins of the earth, search out Caravaggio’s Bacchus. Yes, that old favourite of mine. He is the reason why I forfeit my heaven for the pleasures of the earth. He could very well be yours…ciao, ciao!!!!