Medusa Loses Her Head and David Is Admired: Florence… Armchair Travel

This nice kitty with his finger like paws greeted us on the Piazza della Signoria… along with several other sculptures. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

The two-hour trip to Florence from the Port of Livorno and the two-hour trip back seriously sucked up what little time we had to enjoy the legendary Renaissance city. Our first act upon arrival was to plot out our plan of attack, which we did over café lattes and scrumptious Italian pastries. Why suffer? I really, really hate to eliminate treasures, however. Florence is where the birth of the Renaissance took place and is chock full of art.

The latte was delicious and the pastries scrumptious.

The Uffizi Gallery alone, with its world-class art including masterpieces by Sandro Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci, would take up half out time. Beyond that we plotted out a walk that would take us to the Duomo Basilica and then back to Santo Croce Basilica, where we were to catch our bus. Sadly, I crossed off the Accademia Gallery, which includes Michelangelo’s original David.

But not to worry… there was a magnificent copy of David in front of the Uffizi Gallery in Piazza della Signoria. It was in this square, BTW, that the infamous priest Savonarola (1452-98) held his ‘Bonfire of Vanities’ and encouraged the good citizens of Florence to bring their art treasures and books to be burned.  Somewhat ironically, Savonarola, who was quite vain in his own way, was also burned in the square.

Michelangelo’s David has always been one of Peggy’s favorite sculptures. I wonder why…
These charging horses pulling Neptune’s chariot on Piazza della Signoria in Florence seemed to be pulling in different directions. The horses were carved by the Sculpture Ammannati.
This sculpture by Benvenuto Cellini shows Perseus holding up the head of Medusa, which he had just lopped off. Hopefully her eyes are closed. Otherwise you would be turned to stone.
The most dynamic sculpture on the Piazza della Signoria is the Rape of the Sabine Women by the sculpture Giambologna. The story goes that Romulus needed more women for his new city of Rome, so he went to the nearby town of Sabine and kidnapped them.
But enough on violence. They didn’t allow photos to be taken in the Uffizi Gallery, but when we came out, a short walk took us to Florence’s most famous bridge, the Ponte Vecchio.
For my final picture today, I selected this view looking down the Arno River from Pont Vecchio.

NEXT POST: A fascinating pig that people can’t keep their hands off of.

Snapshots of Florence

Florence Door

This is one of those photos that didn’t fit into my blog themes about Florence but definitely deserved to be included. I liked the door, window with its impressionistic reflection, lamp and even the dark wall, which provided contrast.

When I have finished blogging about an area, I always find I have “leftovers,” i.e. thoughts and photos I liked but didn’t fit the particular themes I was pursuing. For example, what do you do with an extra Lamb of God? They are rather hard to ignore. And then there is always an intriguing door or an interesting historical fact that begs to be told. Anyway, before I rush off to Cannes, here are a few of my “leftovers” from Florence.

Lamb of God in Florence Italy

Peggy captured this bit of Christian iconography… the Lamb of God, which represents Christ leading his flock, I guess. There was something about the perky, down the nose glance that tickled my funny bone. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

Balcony and outside walls in Florence.

These walls were impossible to ignore.

This close up provides detail. Check out the mythological beasts and cherubs in the paintings. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

This close up provides detail. Check out the mythological beasts and cherubs in the paintings. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

Arno River flowing through Florence, Italy.

The Arno River, running through the heart of Florence, could occupy a professional photographer for days. I am sure it has.

Florence, Italy city hall

Florence’s city hall with its beautiful clock tower. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

The Piazza della Repubblica with its dominating arch. The message on it reads "The ancient center of the City restored from age old squalor to new life." It's what we call urban renewal when historical treasures are bull dozed down to make way for the modern. Much was lost.

The Piazza della Repubblica with its dominating arch. The message on it reads “The ancient center of the City restored from age-old squalor to new life.” It’s what we call urban renewal where historical treasures are bulldozed down to make way for the modern. Much was lost.

Tower in Florence, Italy

Who can resist a tower? I Googled the heck out of this one but couldn’t find its name. Maybe one of my readers will help.

Cat and Mouse at Florence Christmas market

On the lighter side of things, Peggy and I visited Florence’s Christmas Market where this cat and mouse amused me. Note the mouse’s tongue.

Lion statue in Florence, Italy

Since I started my blogs on Florence with a lion, it is only appropriate that I finish with one.

NEXT BLOG: The Cannes Festival is going on now. We were there at a quieter time.

There’s This Pig in Florence…

Kathi Saage and I rub the nose of Il Porcillino in hopes of returning to Florence.

Kathi Saage and I rub the nose of Il Porcellino in hopes of returning to Florence.

So, here’s a serious question: With all of the beautiful art in Florence, why in the world would I kick off my Florence series with a pig?

I’ll be brief. I was told if I rubbed the nose of the pig, or the snout of the boar if you prefer, I would come back to Florence.  Considering I had six hours to explore everything Florence had to offer, I looked on my nose polishing effort as a guarantee of a return trip.

Peggy, also wanting to return to Florence, eagerly rubs Little Pig's nose.

Peggy, also wanting to return to Florence, eagerly rubs Little Pig’s nose.

Porcellino, the little pig of Florence

A close up of Porcellino’s well-rubbed nose.

Il Porcellino, or Little Pig, as he is known, was sculpted way back in 1612 and was based on an original marble pig of Greek origin dating back to who knows when. The present pig is a copy of the copy. You can tell by his shiny nose that lots of people share my desire to come back to Florence. Apparently rubbing his snout for a return trip dates back to the 1700s.

Little Pig is housed in an attractive marketplace that was built by Cosimo de’ Medici between 1547-1551. Bad merchants, who had the misfortune of going bankrupt, were spanked here before being sent off to prison. I couldn’t find a description on what the spanking entailed.

The overflowing Mercato Nuovo or the Straw Market where bad merchants were once spanked.

The overflowing Mercato Nuovo or the Straw Market where bad merchants were once spanked.

One more fact: There are copies of Little Pig found throughout the world, including one at the University of Arkansas representing the school’s mascot, a Razorback hog. I wonder if the students realize the origin of their statue?

I finished off my trip to Florence by admiring a real pig being roasted at the Christmas Fair being held in Piazza Santa Croce. He smelled yummy. Unfortunately, we were under strict orders from our tour guide to be on time for the trip back to our ship… or be left behind, so I didn’t get to try a sample.

The roasting pig at Florence's Christmas Fair.

The roasting pig at Florence’s Christmas Fair on Piazza Santa Croce.

NEXT BLOG: We will check out Michelangelo’s David, Peggy’s all time favorite sculpture.