From there we go to see yet another church (I warned you, there’d be a lot of them on the tour), the church of Orsanmichele, which was completed in 1404.
Which is to say, it was completed as a church that year. Before that, it had a previous incarnation as a granary, built around 1290. You still can see chutes inside for the grain and metal rings for ropes and pulleys.
The outside of the building features many statues, some devoted to practitioners of various guilds. There’s also one of 4 martyrs, dating to 1415.
There’s also a statue of St. George, and yep, it does give lower billing to the dragon.
We continue strolling through the city.
Until we come to the Ponte Vecchio (old bridge), one of the most frequently photographed bridges in the world.
Rebuilt in 1345, its lineage can be traced back to ancient times. When the Nazis came through in World War II, they destroyed the other bridges in Florence, but decided to leave this one standing (reportedly on orders from Hitler himself). It’s the one good thing they did for the world.
It’s a combination pedestrian bridge and marketplace with vendors’ stalls all along the sides. I find a good postcard to send my parents, featuring Il Duomo; and the stall has postcard postage for sale and a drop box for the cards.
Tradition has it that in the old days when vendors here no longer could pay their bills, soldiers would come and break the table (“banco”) on which they sold their goods. And from the words meaning broken table or bench or bank comes the modern word bankrupt.
Next we head to the Piazza della Signoria, the official hub of the city for many centuries. It’s the public square in front of the Palazzo Vecchio, the town hall that dates back to about 1300.
The Piazza is home to a great many sculptural masterpieces.
In fact, that’s Michelangelo’s David you see in front. Well, sort of. It’s actually an excellent duplicate. The original stood here originally, but after sustaining damage and being repaired, it was moved indoors in 1873, at the nearby Galleria dell’Accademia.
In fact, next to the Palazzo is a little pavilion called Loggia dei Lanzi that houses a small, free-to-see outdoor gallery of great sculpture.
The crowning jewel is Perseus With the Head of Medusa (1545) by Benvenuto Cellini.
I find Cellini (1500-1571) particularly fascinating because I read his colorful (and no doubt rather flatulent) autobiography when I was a teenager. (That was a bust of him we saw near Ponte Vecchio.)
He was not only a brilliant sculptor and goldsmith but supposedly a bit of a swashbuckler — though he was prone to self-aggrandizement that bordered on the quasi-Trumpian, so it’s hard to know what’s true and what isn’t. Still, the book makes for enjoyable reading, and adds a level of appreciation to viewing his handiwork. This exquisite piece of work is awe-inspiring when viewed from any angle.
Finally, we leave Perseus’ behind behind and head back to the apartment to regroup for a bit before hitting the pavement again in the evening.
(Yep, there’s still more.)