Tom, the English student who wanted manual labour to get fit for the forthcoming rugby season has been at Bellaugello for over three weeks and working hard, in the garden and grounds, busy strimming, clearing round olive trees and carrying bags of cement and shovelling sand, so I finally relented and decreed a day away from Valdichiascio.
We headed off to Firenze (Florence in English) on the train. Firenze must be one of the finest cities in Europe, art and fine architecture abounds everywhere. The train takes you right into the historic centre of the city, arriving at Santa Maria Novella Station, itself a 1930’s wonder. The forecast was for temperatures in the high thirties, fortunately there was a pleasant breeze, and Florence was not too busy.
I steered Tom in the direction of the Duomo and pointed out the wonder of Filippo Brunelleschi’s dome built some six hundred years ago, and until the early twentieth century the largest unsupported structure in the world. From there we proceeded to the Piazza della Signoria, and the magnificence of the Palazzo Vecchio with its copy of Michalengelo’s David and nearby Ammannati’s Neptune fountain, celebrating the arrival of fresh piped water to the great city. I always make a detour to the loggia which holds other important pieces of sculpture, including one of my favourites, the ‘rape of the sabines’ by Giambologna, not for its subject but for its sheer muscaluture and fluidity of movement, and Cellini’s bronze of Perseus with the head of Medusa, scary stuff but the model must have been a real fit guy.
At this point it occurred to me I was surrounded by lots of naked men proudly showing their manhood, The Piazza della Signoria could easily have been a naturist resort of olden times as Bellaugello is today!
I left Tom to wander down to the Arno and over the Ponte Vecchio towards the Palazzo Pitti, whilst I went off in search of some eye candy and late sale bargains, much of the former but little of the latter….
Firenze is easily reached from Bellaugello and makes a thoroughly pleasant day trip.