December 21, 2013 – Florence

Since yesterday was a slow sightseeing day, we have to make up for lost time. I have made up a schedule of what’s open on what day and what times they are open. Paper in hand, we are ready to hit the streets.

First up, the Last Supper by Ghirlandaio in the Ognissanti Church (All Saints.) This is the church we tried to get into this past Wednesday only to find it closed. This morning it is open! We make a contribution to restoring the church’s works and are ushered in by a pleasant lady behind the desk. We are, of course, alone in the chapel where the work is.

Ghirlandaio's Last Supper
Ghirlandaio’s Last Supper

In 1480 when this fresco was made, Leonardo da Vinci would be familiar with Ghirlandaio’s work and probably set off to make a more dynamic work when he painted his Last Supper in Milan. It’s true that the figures are more static but the painting is full of symbolism that would have been instantly recognizable to 15th century Catholics.

Our next stop is at Santo Spirito. We have been trying to get into this church for almost 20 years. The church was closed for much of this period due to problems in the scruffy San Frediano district. But today it is open! We spend some time examining all their paintings and sculptures. They have works that span the time from the 15th to the 20th century including a copy of Michelangelo’s Pieta and a crucifix by Michelangelo. There are no pictures allowed but Sarah manages one of the Pieta.

Santo Spirito
Santo Spirito

Copy of Michangelo's Pieta in Santo Spirito (original in St.Peter's)
Copy of Michangelo’s Pieta in Santo Spirito (original in St.Peter’s)

After this we look at their museum. It is mostly filled with fragments of columns and statues but has an interesting fresco covering one wall.

14th century crucifixion and a fragment of the Last Supper in the Santo Spirito museum
14th century crucifixion and a fragment of the Last Supper in the Santo Spirito museum

Two of the apostles at the Last Supper surviving from this 1380 fresco
Two of the apostles at the Last Supper surviving from this 1380 fresco

We walk along the streets of San Frediano with its many workshops. While Sarah and I duck into a cafe for cappucini, John goes in search of Mama’s Bakery for our Christmas bagels. Sarah insists that we take a “selfie” out on the square.

Marionette workshop with creepy headless puppets waiting to be rehabilitated
Marionette workshop with creepy headless puppets waiting to be rehabilitated

Selfie of Sarah and Mom
Selfie of Sarah and Mom

John's back with our Christmas bagels!
John’s back with our Christmas bagels!

Time for lunch! Our go-to place in the Santo Spirito piazza is Osteria Santo Spirito. I first ate here in 1995 while on a spouse’s tour of a Florence while John worked. We always have their rigatoni with ricotta salata.

After lunch we tackle the Pitti Palace. Sarah makes a fine tour guide for me as we go from room to room examining all the paintings and identifying saints. Our new favorite painting at the Pitti Palace? Raphael’s Madonna dell’Impannata. Jesus looks so happy here and it almost looks like Saint Catherine might be tickling him. At least I prefer to think that’s what she is doing rather than pointing to where he will be stuck with a lance during the Passion.

It’s getting late and time to head back to the apartment after a long day sightseeing. But there is still enough light to take a few photos on the Ponte Vecchio.

Dinner tonight is at 5 Amici. Although it is a humble trattoria, the food is very good and the waiter actually wants to serve us! We have a good time and head back to our apartments.


Florence is decorated for Christmas!
Florence is decorated for Christmas!

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