Like a favourite pair of fluffy, old slippers, it feels so good to be wriggling my toes back in the comfort of Italy and visiting Florence in particular. This place sums up the whole country in the space of such a small area. From the small roof top terrace that pops it’s head above the red clay tiled roof tops, I am at the same level as the Duomo, the famous, dome of the cathedral. It is just there, standing gloriously tall above the deep shaded maze of narrow streets and sun blazed piazzas, the points of cypress trees stand guard on the foliaged hillside to the south of the River Arno, scooters putt around, horns beep, sirens tangle in echoes through the hazey hot atmosphere, even in May. The laughter and cries of children always succeed in reaching the ears before any other sounds, however high up. On the hour a cascade of deep bells boom and bombard the ears of the city, competing for the ears of the faithful to remind them what they should really be thinking about. Just add the pasta and the food, and stir with copious amounts of classy Chianti, consumed by classy guys in their waistcoats & suits with their wavy curls & twinkling eyes and even classier, elegant women and you have that special, Italian way.
I am going to have to let the images tell the story of this place. It is just so magnificent. Every piazza, every hillside, every surrounding ridge is set off with a a marble facade, a church or cathedral or religious house, a steeple, a tower, a dome or a crescent of tiles. And within the squares and piazzas, or dwarfing the steps of religious houses, framed by these wonderful 13th century buildings are awesome statues and sculptures of bottoms and bulges and boobs and …..other, hanging bits. Angels and gladiators and biblical he men compete with galloping horses and rearing creatures, all larger than life and 10 times more imposing than us lowly mortals. And I’ve not been inside yet. Enjoy.