Armchair travel: Scott Dickieson's fabulous Florence
'You can never have too much art, I guess'
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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