9/22 Last but not least

The last Florentine attraction we wanted to share is the English Cemetery - officially "Cimitero Protestante di Porta a' Pinti" - anyone who knows us, knows that if there is an old cemetery in our vicinity, we will be sure to go there!  In 1827, 8000 sq.meters of Grand-Ducal lands were sold to the Swiss Reformed Evangelical Church for use as a cemetery; burials took place from 1838 to 1877 (760 British, 433 Swiss, 87 North Americans, 84 Italians, and 54 Russians).  All in all, it is a beautiful and restful place even though it is surrounded by buildings and streets and traffic.  The knoll it occupies lets the wind blow through the trees and the surrounding buildings cut down on the other city noises - it was delightful to spend a couple of hours there.

Of course, tourists only seem to care that it's the final resting place for Elizabeth Barrett Browning...

And that concludes our trip to Germany and Italy - if you're ever in the area, stop in and we can share the thousands of pictures we didn't show you!

It's also the conclusion of another calendar year - I was going to quote EBB, but I don't really care for her poetry all that much; a little maudlin and smarmy for my taste - so I'll close with a quote from a Canadian poet (Virna Sheard) of inconsistent talent:
A Toast to thee, O dear Old Year,
While the last moments fly.
A toast to thy sweet memory-
We'll lift the glasses high,
And bid to thee a fond farewell
As thou art passing by!

May you and yours have a Blessed and Wonderful New Year!


9/22 Santa Croce

We got up early and got back on the tour bus (tickets are good for two days) - this let us get to the Church of Santa Croce, which was the last big church of our visit.  Built in the 13th century (on the site of an older church), the facade was (of course) added in the 19th century.  But it is full of tombs, heraldry, frescoes and over-the-top decorations.
Among those buried here, you might recognize -
and Machiavelli

There is also an impressive monument to Dante:
We took hours in this church - it was one of my favorite places...and, did I mention it was chock full o'heraldry?
Even though major restoration was going on (Cosimo I whitewashed over all of the frescoes that used to cover all the walls...), the solid gold altar with painted panels by 14th century Florentine artists was still impressive...
 There was also a chapel, a courtyard and underground tombs to see as well.  A great way to spend the morning!


9/21 Dante, Michelangelo and San Miniato

We wandered around and headed to Dante's house -

And then we spent the rest of the day riding a double-decker tour bus (hop on/hop off), which allowed us to make sure we had seen the major sites without having to walk anymore!  It was a nice perspective and the tour tape allowed us to figure out some of the stuff we had already seen, in addition to letting us find a few more...

Late in the afternoon, we met up with our friend Laura and her beautiful son (along with her mother) and they took us up to the Piazzale Michelangelo, which is THE spot for the panoramic view of Florence...

And then they drove us further up the hill to see the Church of San Miniato al Monte (built in the 11th century with a Romanesque facade) - extremely beautiful; we are grateful Laura was able to spend some time with us and show us this beautiful church - because of it's location it would have been too far for us to walk from the Piazzale.


9/21 Chisea Orsanmichele

The name is a corruption  of Orto di San Michele (Kitchen Garden of St. Micheal - on the site of a former monastic garden) - built in 1337 as a grain market, it was converted to a church about 50 years later; the outside niches have statues of the patron saints of major guilds (copies, of course - the originals have been moved to museums):

This isn't all of them, but you get the idea - the inside of the church is very opulent - I love the decorated columns and the ornate altar by Andrea Orcagna (1350s) which holds the Virgin and Child painted in 1348 by Bernardo Daddi:


9/21 On the Streets

After breakfast, in a room with heraldic windows, we hit the streets to head back to the Davanzati Palace, which was closed when we tried to go there earlier in the week...

Imagine our delight when we came to a plaza that had a beautiful carousel!

Even at that hour, the street vendors were out - but it was all stuff from China that I could easily get at home (cheaper, may I add)...

We get to the Palace (also known as the Museo dell'Antica Casa Fiorentina) but the only pictures allowed are of the front of the building...

It has been preserved as a typical house of wealthy Florentines of the 14th century and I'm hoping those guys owned a lot of tapestries, etc. because it was all stone and tile - it did have an impressive defense system, an inner well, and "facilities" in most of the rooms...

As soon as we came out after touring the museum, we found a shop that I did have to go into - still didn't buy very much (a pair of scissors and a few buttons - but it was so cool to look at so much fiber after so much stone! 

Next up - another beautiful church:


9/20 - headed back to hotel

After the Pitti gallaries - and there were quite a few - we decided to call it quits and headed back to the hotel - of course, that meant still plenty to see, since we were on the other side of the River Arno from where we wanted to be....
The Church of San Spirito - a late work of Brunelleschi - unfortunately,
the smooth and simple facade dates from the 18th century...