Much has happened in the last few weeks. Several sets of parents have visited which makes me sad that I have had no visitors! But oh well. I've been trying to explore Florence during the week and then take trips on the weekends. Florence is such a beautiful city and there is always something new to see.

My apartment is right by the Uffizi gallery and several times a week there is a singer outside. Kate and I sometimes get a bottle of wine and listen to him sing American songs. It's always really nice, and sometimes I can hear him from the window in our room.

I've also spent time in the Oltrano area (across the river) because it's less touristy than the rest of Florence. There are often markets and the beautiful church Santo Spirito.  

Museum | Opera di Santa Maria Fiore

"Rising up to the skies, so large that it covered the entire Tuscan people in it's shadow" - a quote about the Duomo

This museum houses all the artifacts taken from the Duomo and also explains the history of its forever changing outer appearance. There are many famous works of art in the museum such as the original bronze panels from the Baptistery's Gates of Paradise (Ghiberti). Michelangelo's Pieta also stands in the museum which was meant for his own tomb. I was surprised to see The Magdalene by Donatello, a very powerful piece that I had been wanting to see for a long time. The name of the basilica means "our Lady of the Flower".

I learned some interesting facts about Florence and the Duomo. It was built on the site of another cathedral and the land was chosen because of the water available for Baptism. Also, I found it interesting that the spatial relationship between the Baptistery building and the main cathedral holds a lot of importance. The Baptistery could have possibly been a Roman temple before its conversion. However, it's shape (octagon) is also important because it represents the "eighth day" life after death, which I had never heard about before and found it very interesting. 

Spedale degli Innocenti

The Hospital of Orphans was one of the first orphanages and established during the Renaissance to combat the high rates of children abandonment in the 1400s. Silk merchants were responsible for beginning the establishment during the Renaissance after the Plague with the goal of creating an "Ideal City". 

The museum inside the old orphanage is an art gallery contains paintings relevant to the hospital. Important paintings are the "Madonna with the innocent child" with the architecture of the hospital in the background of the painting and the "Adoration of the Magi". Unfortunately, I was not allowed to take pictures during this section of the building. 

There was a wheel in front of the building where children could be left. The women would hear the child crying from a window close by and would take them inside. What really struck me were the "markers" that mothers sometimes left with their babies. These markers were little broken coins, or jewelry, pins, notes-- anything that might allow them to reunite with their child someday.  

Archaeological Museum

I always get into trouble at both museums and cafes!! Here I got yelled at for trying to wander into the Etruscan Pavilion outside. I'm sorry I'm curious?

The National Archaeological Museum of Florence was a really awesome yet strange place. I had to wander around for a good 15 minutes before reaching the museum trail. I was thinking "oh good... i paid four euro to get lost in a building." There were large Egyptian sections and also Estruscan sections from excavations in Italy. There are also collections from Rome and Greece. I really enjoyed the Egyptian section because I was not expecting to see mummy's in Italy. I saw the sarcophagus's and then looked down to be face to face with a mummy! I was so shocked. I don't think I have ever seen a decaying mummy body before. It was really interesting.

I was also happy to see the real Chimera of Arezzo (a city I previously visited).

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