Florence Curiosities Tour

Today was a rather routine day for us here in Florence.  Maria and the boys worked on schoolwork most of the day until about 4:30pm.  I spend the entire day Tuesday in the classroom.  My first class conducted a SWOT analysis (Strengths. Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) of two Olive Oil companies here in Italy.  My second class examined the art of Michelangelo and Raphael. 

Then at 5pm we went on a Florence Curiosities Walking Tour that was conducted by a local guide for the Mount St. Mary’s students!  It was very interesting.  It’s amazing how much we haven’t seen even though we walk past these things every day!

So I thought I would share five Florence curiosities with you:

1.  This first curiosity is a building across from where I teach.  Notice the curved shape of the walls.  It has this shape because the current building was built on an original Roman foundation.  And the original Roman building was an amphitheater that held gladiator fights outside the Roman city of Florence.  Very cool.  The archways were built to commemorate the site’s original purpose.   

2.  The next curiosity is this wall on a corner of an intersection.  There are three things that you see.  The first is a long iron rod – this is to keep the building from collapsing in an earthquake.  (Nicholas and Thomas said – “They have earthquakes here!?!”) 

The second thing is the white sign.  It is no longer legible because of weather damage.  (I added a picture below of a similar sign to show what it is supposed to look like.  I also included another picture below to show you high up it is.)  This is the where the Arno River rose to on November 4, 1966 when the most of the city was under water.  The marker below the white one is from the 1300s.  On November 4, 1333 (same date), the Arno flooded Florence – you can see the wavy lines to represent the water and a hand on the right of the marker pointing to how high the water rose.         

3.  The third curiosity is on the oustide wall of the Palazzo Vecchio.  You remember this great building towering over Florence, right?  (See the European Union flag, Italy’s flag, and Florence’s flag.)  

The original David sculpted by Michelangelo was placed in front of the Palazzo Vecchio protecting Florence from anyone who dared to attack.  Now the fake David does this, as the original is kept inside the Galleria dell’Academia.    

On the outside wall of the Palazzo Vecchio, there is a carving that some believe was carved by the great master, Michelangelo.  Some say it is a self-portrait when he was a young man; others believe he was sketching someone else.  And some believe that this is just 18th century graffiti!  You be the judge!   

4.  The fourth curiosity is this building that is now part of the Hotel Brunelleschi in the center of Florence.  It is the oldest existing structure in Florence!  It was built in the 1100s as a watch tower.   

5.  The last curiosity is a story told to our tour guide by a Florentine waiter in 1995.  So it has to be true! 

Did you ever wonder who paid for the Last Supper?  Someone had to pay for the meal.  Was it Jesus?  Was it one of his 12 disciples?  Well the answer is sculpted on the marble frame of one of the doors of Florence’s cathedral.  Right above the painting, you see Jesus.  See below for a close-up.      

Jesus has his hands up: “No way I am paying the bill!”  He exclaims!

The disciple here is in shock.  He can’t possibly have to pay the bill. 

This is the disciple that got stuck with the bill.  He is making the traditional Italian gesture for “I am not very happy with this situation, and #$&%$ you for making me pay this bill!”

It was a fun time!  Afterwards, we got some dinner and headed back home!  Ciao!


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