August 7: Into the Hot Tuscan Sun
Breakfast this morning at the Casa Masoli was fit for a king on a budget. A buffet of fresh cake, tarts, and muffins was spread out on a long table. Thick slices of freshly baked bread, croissants dusted with powdered sugar, and a basket of fresh fruit were a royal treat.
Before leaving for Florence, we visited the Domus of Stone Carpets. Entering through the gift shop gives no hint of what lies below. Through a door and down the metal stairs you come to a brightly lit room with gorgeous mosaic floors. These remains were left undiscovered for centuries 3 meters below the road. Once part of a huge Byzantine palace, today you can admire the herringbone, geometric, and floral mosaic patterns. My favorite mosaic was Dance of the Geniuses of the Seasons which depicts geniuses dancing in a circle.
I wondered what happened to any missing stones, but learned that when the streets and sewers were built and the floors were undiscovered, many of the stones would have been unknowingly removed.
Our Eurostar train to Florence was thankfully air conditioned. Racing through the countryside we spotted grape vines and peach trees. On our train yesterday was a young woman with a baby begging for money. Today she reappeared on the train and was promptly chased off by the conductor. We could still hear her angry protests as the conductor slammed the door.
Florence is hopping. Riding through the city in the taxi, we spotted long lines to the Duomo. Our hotel, Hotel Silla, overlooks the Arno. Walking into Florence was a pleasant 5 minutes away across the bridge. Although it was 5 oclock, we were able to visit the Franciscan chruch of Santa Croce. Scaffolding fills much of the church where you can catch a glimpse of artists at work during restoration. Michelangelo and Galileo are both buried in huge tombs. We attempted to see a glass case with part of St. Francis tunic, but they were closing that area. Following our guide book we were able to admire frescoes by Giotto. Surprisingly these had once been covered over by other art work until they were rediscovered in the 19th century. Cimabues Crucifixion was also on display. Sadly much of it was damaged in November of 1966 during the flood.
Tonight we will walk around town enjoying the sights and sounds of Florence.
The Domus of Stone Carpets
Entombed beneath the streets for centuries
like a 6th century time capsule
Ravennas history is rewritten