From Venezia, we took a rapid train southwest to Firenze - where we hoped to see the city that has long been regarded as the artistic capital of Italy. We approached our time spent there in the same way as the other major cities we had previously visited, largely with the intention of getting lost and hoping to stumble upon glimpses of the true character of the place. In between, we thought we might manage to visit a few of Firenze's world famous museums, but due to arriving late Sunday afternoon, with the museums closed on Monday and our departure set for Tuesday afternoon, there was little time to visit them. Instead, the highlights of Firenze presented themselves in finding simple pleasures on streets that most tourists might miss. Discussing childhood memories of sharing candies with a long-passed relative with an inviting shopkeeper at La Bottega del Caffè on Via Aretina, was something that left an impression on us just as profound as seeing Il Duomo. Walking across the street and chancing upon some of the most delicious baked goods we've ever had at Forno Moderno (rosemary raisin sweet bread!) made the experience even more authentically Florentine in our minds. Besides, the streets and architecture of Firenze have an artistry all themselves.
In our meandering, we came across several beautiful artisan shops, where paper-makers, cobblers, jewelers, and artists honed their techniques and offered their work for sale. And although less common than in Venezia, there was some street art to be found in Firenze as well.
Monday evening, we sat in the Piazza della Signoria sketching the statues of the Loggia dei Lanzi and Palazzo Vecchio until it became too dark and we convinced our selves to visit the latter as it seemed to be the only museum that was open. Walking through the decadent museum, we found it strange that as talented and prolific as the Renaissance artists were, it was as if they had not yet learned or valued discretion - everything was meant to be spectacular, every ceiling and wall painted with multiple colliding images which ultimately detracted from their individual strengths and purposes.
After visiting the museum, we walked to Angie's Pub upon recommendation of our friend, Maggie, who had lived in Firenze for a time. There, we enjoyed some of the best beer of our trip while listening to some funky tunes, surrounded by a lot of painted monsters and a few joyful Italians. Roy was still recovering from the decadent Renaissance eye feast: