Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Italia (Toscana) - Florence

"What is the fatal charm of Italy? What do we find there that can be found nowhere else? I believe it is a certain permission to be human, which other places, other countries, lost long ago." --Erica Jong

  We arrived in Florence (Toscana or Tuscany in English) after the 3 hour drive from Venice. As beautiful as the water is in Venice, the colorful landscape is equally as beautiful in Florence. We checked in to our hotel, The Four Seasons Firenze, which is about a 5 minute drive outside of the center of Florence (and makes for a nice retreat after walking through the crowded streets of Florence). We then went to the center of town, visited the Piazza di Santa Maria Novella which is famous not only for its church but also for its brand of perfumes and cosmetics, which are made from all natural ingredients and are among the most luxurious in the world. Then we walked to the Piazza della Signoria and the Piazza di Santa Croce,  the latter of which not only has a beautiful church but also its world renown leather school which was begun with the monks teaching children the art of fine leather craftsmanship (and which produce some of the most beautiful belts, shoes, wallets, handbags, briefcases and jackets found anywhere). And of course, we stopped for some Tuscan steak (among the best anywhere- but beware, never ask for it well done, the chef will let you know very quickly that he knows the best way to prepare it.) Finish the night off with a nocciola (hazelnut) gelato and go to bed proud to be a Toscano!

The Church of Santa Maria Novella
The lobby atrium of out hotel, the Four Seasons Firenze

The beautiful work at the leather school in the Church of Santa Croce

Leather craftsman busy at work
La Piazza della Signoria

The unassuming entrance to our hotel (but inside-WOW!)

Toscanos are everywhere in Florence

La Piazza della Signoria

The Church of Santa Croce

The Leather School of Santa Croce
A typical Tuscan courtyard

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