Armchair travel: Scott Dickieson's fabulous Florence

Craving a getaway but don't have the time or money? Sit back and take a few minutes to travel to Florence, Italy, with Scott Dickieson, who visited the Tuscan capital for a week in November.

'You can never have too much art, I guess'

One of Dickieson's last stops was the Ai Weiwei exhibit Libero, a retrospective of the artist's key works over the last 30 years including this bicycle wheel sculpture. Dickieson is an avid cyclist. (Submitted by Scott Dickieson )

Craving a getaway but don't have the time or money? Sit back and take a few minutes to travel to Florence, Italy, with Scott Dickieson, who visited the Tuscan capital for a week in November. 

Florence is known as the birthplace of the Renaissance — Michelangelo was raised there — and millions flock annually to what some call the most beautiful city in the world, enjoying the history, art, architecture and the great food and leather goods found in most Italian cities. 

"I chose it primarily because I felt it was the birthplace of the Renaissance and I am generally quite interested in art. I also wanted a fairly in-depth look at the art and history there so that's why I spent a week there, as opposed to travelling around," said the Charlottetown lawyer.

Dickieson's trip did not begin auspiciously: "Plane couldn't land in Florence due to weather so flew us to Bologna and had to take a bus to Florence," he wrote on his Facebook page. 

Scott Dickieson on the iconic Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy. (Submitted by Scott Dickieson )

His first day in the city, he visited the iconic Ponte Vecchio bridge, a medieval stone arch bridge over the Arno river. It's unusual because it still has  shops built right on it — something that was common 500 years ago. Dickieson's cousin travelled with him the first three days and snapped a shot of him from the centre of the bridge, which features three open arches. 

All about the art

Florence, of course, is all about Renaissance art. Dickieson visited the famous Uffizi Gallery, home to thousands of priceless works by Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and more. 

One of his favourite moments of the trip was meeting Michelangelo's iconic statue David, sculpted around 1504.

"It is larger and more impressive in person than you would think from the pictures you see of it," he explains. 

Dickieson entitled this photo simply 'David and I.' Michelangelo create the 5-metre iconic marble statue in the early 1500s. (Submitted by Scott Dickieson )
Dickieson, a fitness buff as well as art lover, entitled this photo 'the original "crossfit" body.' (Submitted by Scott Dickieson )
Dickieson already seemed to be on his way to art overload when he posted 'If you have seen one Michelangelo...' (Submitted by Scott Dickieson )
'Just another Rubens' wrote Dickieson of this work at the Palazzo Pitti. Peter Paul Rubens, one of the most important and prolific Baroque artists, lived in Italy for a time in the early 1600s. (Submitted by Scott Dickieson )

And churches

Dickieson dedicated a day to "looking at the inside of churches" including the Santa Maria Novella, the Basilica San Lorenzo and the iconic cathedral, the Duomo — all of them gilded and painted with priceless Renaissance art.  

Dickieson snapped this shot while lunching at a cafe just outside the Florence Cathedral. (Submitted by Scott Dickieson )

Inside Santa Maria Novella church, which a friend advised Dickieson visit. (Submitted by Scott Dickieson)

Inside the Brunelleschi Dome at the Florence Cathedral, built between 1418 and 1434, but only frescoed more than 100 years later, according to its website. (Submitted by Scott Dickieson )

'I think I was thinking what a beautiful city it is without any skyscapers or ugly buildings,' Dickieson said of taking this photo of the view from the Tower of the Palazzo Vecchio. (Submitted by Scott Dickieson )

Those Medicis were really living

Another day was "palazzo day" for Dickieson who took in the Palazzo Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti.

"Two Renaissance palaces is probably enough for today," he quipped. 

The Palazo Vecchio, or Old Palace, began in 1299 as a royal palace and seat of government, and is now mostly a museum.

The Palazzo Pitti was the home of the long-ruling Medici family and subsequent royalty — it's seen many additions, but the core dates back to 1458. It's the largest museum complex in Florence. 

"The 'Palazzo Pitti' is almost more than you can take in. I might be reaching my limit re: ornate ceilings," he said. 

Dickieson joked he was getting decorating ideas for his Charlottetown home when he posted this shot of yet another beautiful ceiling at the Palazzo Vecchio. (Submitted by Scott Dickieson )
'Early palace bathroom' Dickieson dubbed this shot at the Palazzo Pitti, begun in the 1450s. (Submitted by Scott Dickieson )
'Another understated ceiling at Palazzo Vecchio,' writes Dickieson on Facebook. (Submitted by Scott Dickieson)
'You can never have too much art, I guess,' Dickieson said of one of the room at Palazzo Pitti. (Submitted by Scott Dickieson)

Of course no trip can ever got 100 per cent smoothly even for a seasoned and savvy traveller like Dickieson.

"Picture me having a somewhat fancy dinner in Florence — bruschetta, seafood risotto, two glasses of nice red wine, cappucino — only to realize I had left my wallet back in my apartment," he wrote on his Facebook page. Luckily, he was able to explain the gaffe to the restaurant's owner, who let him run back to his hotel for his wallet.

At the end of his trip Dickieson took in a major retrospective of the work of artist Ai Weiwei, called Libero. Dickieson, an avid cylist, noted that Weiwei helped design the Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing, used in the 2008 Olympic Games. 


Sara Fraser

Web Journalist

Sara is a P.E.I. native who graduated from the University of King's College in Halifax. N.S., with a bachelor of journalism (honours) degree. She's worked with CBC Radio and Television since 1988, moving to the CBC P.E.I. web team in 2015, focusing on weekend features. email