Friday, November 13th
Woke up extra early to drive to the train station in Arezzo to make the 9:52 to Florence. It’s only about an hour trip. Driving to Florence would have been fun, but getting into the city and parking near the center is impossible. The train station though is perfectly located, dead-center of all sightseeing.
Had time to stop at a coffee bar near the station for espresson and pastries before boarding. Sada Sat has been an outstanding guide and translator for everything. She’s given us the opportunity to do things just like the locals – a fantastic perspective.
As we walked out of the train station in Florence memories came rushing back for us all. Looming ahead was the magnificent Duomo, a true architectural and artistic gem.
We stopped to study the ornate, bronze baptistry doors by Ghiberti.
From there on to San Marco, a former monestery where each monk’s cell contains a fresco by Fra Angelico – each one a masterpiece – beautifully painted and powerful in its simplicity. Each one emotionally depicts a scene from the life of Jesus.
After a quick lunch at an outdoor table (weather still beautiful) we continued our walk toward the Ponte Vecchio. On the way we found Vivioli’s, a famous gelateria (with, yes, sorbettos for Joel) in the neighborhood of Santa Croce. Unfortunately, the Ponte Vecchio, still beautiful, was now a jumble of jewelery shops and we couldn’t find the wonderful bakery with the best biscotti in the world (according to Marsha’s and Joel’s memory – from 20 years ago). We bought some at a newly opened shop and were disappointed.
We moved on to the wonderful Brancacci chapel. We walked in with an excellent audio guide on tablets and spent an hour learning about and absorbing the artistry of the frescoes painted in the 15th century, now beautifully restored. Although the chapel is off the beaten path it attracts many visitors and only allows 25 people in at a time who could only spend 30 minutes in the chapel. We were lucky to have arrived when only a few people were there so could spend unlimited time and look as closely as we liked. The tablet guides gave just enough excellent information to reveal the unique qualities of each panel; things we might have overlooked. It also told the specific stories depicted by the panels with notes on the figures including some of the artists who created the pieces.
The walk back to the train station took us past the Santa Maria Novella. The entire day was filled with the sights and sites that make Florence the special place it is. We had all visited on previous trips and were able to focus on a few special stops.
We then took a rush hour return train the Arezzo. It was a bit hot on the train, but it only took 45 minutes.
On the way back to the Yoga Borgo we stopped in Sansepulcro to pick up some fresh pasta and mushrooms, and a couple of great bottles of wine (A 2011 Barolo and a Barbaresco). Another great day.