On the south side of the Arno — December 29

We crossed to the south bank of the Arno River on Christmas Day when we walked to Piazzalle Michelangelo and San Miniato al Monte, but today, we did the big tour of the Pitti Palace, Palazzo Pitti, located on the south side of the Arno.

We did a tour through a company called Context Tour who employ PhDs in art history as docents. Our docent was Cornelia Danielson, an American, degree from Columbia, who has been in Florence since the 1970s studying art.
She explained a lot about  architecture, art history and the history of the Medici, who bought the palace because the wife of Cosimo I thought her 9 children (she eventually had 11) needed more space. The main part of the tour was of the art collection which was a curious mix of really great works and some pretty mediocre works.
Weather was pretty dismal. It was overcast and often misting, sometimes heavier rain. We had thought we’d also tour the Boboli Gardens but left that to a later decision hoping the weather might let up. It didn’t so we only looked at the gardens from inside the Palazzo.
This was a grotto in the garden.
After the tour we had lunch at a restaurant partly hanging over the Arno river.
Some of us then did some shopping.
There are a suprising number of shops where the clerks speak Japanese. Maybe it’s not surprising given the number of Japanese tourists, but I get totally confused when some clerk starts speaking to me in Japanese and I’m expecting Italian! I usually start speaking in Italian and then there I am, speaking Italian to some Japanese speaking clerk and often it takes a number of sentences before I or the clerk figure out we might do better conversing in English.
Anyhow, after lunch and some shoe purchases, some added grocery purchases and more wine, we headed back to our flat.
These were from the Enoteca Alessi which we returned to en masse to check out the Brunello, which if it hasn’t been obvious is our favourite Tuscan wine, actually, our favourite Italian wine.
It is our last night in Florence, which is kind of sad — a lot sad. Despite the very wet weather, it has been milder than Calgary and certainly nothing we have found uncomfortable. Walking around where art and history are omnipresent must be something I can’t imagine living with on a daily basis. Sort of would like to experience it.

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