Saturday, May 10, 2014

Palazzo Vechio, Santa Croce

As we had stayed up reading very late on Friday night, we slept so late that by the time we were cleaned up, we had missed breakfast at La Scaletta. So, for old time's sake, we walked back down to Cafe Bellini, across from the Pitti Palace. Although sitting outside was lovely as always, our waiter was the surly dark fellow from 2012 for whom we didn't much care, and the caffe americano was not particularly good, though the brioche were fine, but not better than what we can get at Hotel La Scaletta. So I don't think we will make it a regular thing again, though Shawn said he saw the waitress whom we both liked, as were walking away.

After we ate, we walked to Palazzo Vecchio, crossing at Ponte Vecchio.
Palazzo Vecchio from the terrace at the Uffizi Gallery, photo by Shawn, September 2012
The Ponte Vecchio has been a full crush nearly every time we have crossed it this year, so it may be that September means fewer tourists, which is good to know.

At Palazzo Vecchio, we toured all of the building. I think perhaps I liked most the ground level, which has a lovely and surprising courtyard, where I was able to practice a very little Spanish, as a Castilian lady asked me to take her picture with the fountain.
Courtyard at Palazzo Vecchio, photo by Shawn
Fountain in the courtyard at Palazzo Vecchio, photo by Shawn
Il Salone dei Cinquecento is very, very impressive, both because of the frescos and its size, though the chairs now used for the assembly are cheap contemporary meeting chairs.
Il Salone dei Cinquecento in Palazzo Vecchio, photo by Nancy
Some interesting furniture pieces in the old apartments, including a 15th or 16yh century folding chair, many beautifully carved chests and several chests with pietra dure  inlay.
Chest with pietra dure, photo by Nancy
Then we climbed the tower. I did not count the stairs, but there may be fully as many as at the Campanile, without the same opportunities for rest breaks and enjoying the views. I could feel my hips and calves going as we climbed; I'm not sure that I'll be taking on the Duomo climb. (And I didn’t.)

People in general were ruder than I recalled them being at the Campanile, but perhaps that had more to do with the limited space everywhere. At the top, they rope off most of the perimeter, so that you won't get too close; understandable due to the design of the building, but disappointing nonetheless. There was a small metal platform one could climb to view the Duomo, assuming that a Japanese American compelling a German to take his photo with his iPhone wasn't monopolizing the space.
Duomo from the top of the Palazzo Vecchio, photo by Shawn
Santo Spirito, from the top of Palazzo Vecchio, photo by Shawn
Santa Maria Novella, from the top of Palazzo Vecchio, photo by Shawn
 The views were fine, but not better than those to be had in Bellosguardo, and though the climb took less time at Palazzo Vecchio, it was far more pleasant and FAR less crowded at Bellosguardo (save for one scooter-rider eating his lunch at the overlook, we were the only ones there).

We hunted around a bit (without checking Trip Advisor), trying to locate Casa del Vin Santo, a restaurant we had liked very much in 2012, but we unsuccessful. As we were both very tired and hungry, we opted to try Pizzeria O'Vesuvio, which very much had an American pizza joint feel (making me nervous), but which turned out to have delicious cheeses and bread as antipasto, and a wonderful Pizza alla Siciliana, with eggplant, mozzarella, and grana padano on tomato sauce. Genuine Neapolitan style thin-crust wood-fired pizza, with Nastro Azzurro, an Italian lager that tasted pretty good to these two hot travelers.
Pizzeria O'Vesuvio (photo from 
Next we decided to return to Santa Croce, which we both loved last time we were here.
Santa Croce, photo by Shawn, September 2012
The square was filled with temporary volleyball and basketball courts, and was packed with spectators, so getting inside the church was even better than one might  have expected.

The restoration of the altar and front of the church was complete, so we were able to see it complete, which was lovely.
Altar, Santa Croce, photo by Shawn

Ceiling detail, Santa Croce, photo by Shawn

Cimabue Crucifix, Damaged by 1966 Flood, Santa Croce, photo by Shawn
Santa Croce is a cool, restful place, but I did not enjoy it as much this time, probably because I was definitely feeling done with crowds, and it was more crowded than on our last trip. There were to be Gregorian chants at 21:00, which I rather wish we had tried to get tickets for, but by the time we got back to the hotel, we both had such aching calves that we simply sat up top for some time with drinks (I am becoming addicted to prosecco as a hot weather drink, Shawn is renewing his vows to Montenegro amaro), and then had dinner on the lower terrace. While I had the spaghetti alla chitarra, Shawn tried fusilli with zucchini, anchovies and tomatoes; we both decided that we are not particularly fond of anchovies, after having now given them a fair trial. But our desserts were delicious, mine a chocolate flan, rather like a lava cake, but with very, very good chocolate, Shawn's a panna cotta with strawberries that had a wonderful soft texture, more like good pudding than the jello-like stuff that passes for panna cotta at home.

With full bellies, we headed back to our room, where we tried to turn in a bit earlier...

1 comment:

  1. Gorgeous blog! I am ready to move to Italy now. :)