Firenze: Haven for the Arts and Bags

The famous dome of Firenze.

We arrived at our first city during nighttime. Despite the exhaustion of a 14-hour air travel, we still managed to do some late night strolling. We were greeted by Firenze’s Duomo: the structure that started Europe’s architectural renaissance.

Its patterned facade is a contrast against its monotone neighbors.

Day 1 was spent walking around the city, with Museo Nazionale de Bargello as our first stop.

It houses some of Italia’s sculptural works, including familiar ones like ‘Mercury.’

Next site was Al Duomo, where it was always flocked by tourists.

Its front facade.

Its baptistry.

Its campanille. 

The church’s interiors were void of pews when we went inside. Only the hushed sounds of tourists were allowed inside.

This is a view of what is beneath the dome.

After spending a brief period inside, we left and passed by a lot of interesting architecture.

Piazza dela Repubblica. A lot of signature labels are clustered in this area. Firenze happens to be a cradle to a lot of Italian designers, like Gucci and Ferragamo.

Palazzo Vecchio: my first real-life glimpse of a palace.

Adjacent to it is Piazza della Signora. As a city known for the arts, Firenze’s public spaces are filled with artworks.

A replica of Michelangelo’s ‘David’ can be found in this piazza.

A few minutes of walk will lead to Ponte Vecchio.

This bridge is lined with artisan shops selling jewelries.

Stopping at its central portion can give a glimpse of Arno River.

Our walking tour ended at Palazzo Pitti.

Behind this palace is the grand garden of Boboli. We failed to visit it during our trip due to time constraints.

Day 2 was spent fulfilling our first “job” as counterpart delegates. We visited Universeta degli Studi di Firenze and briefly observed an architecture class.

Freshmen students made these drawings out of CAD.

As part of our perks, we had a free tour of Dante Alighieri’s residence.

An artist outside his house was reciting the lines of Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy.” This classic poem includes the famous (Dante’s) “Inferno. “

Before heading to our afternoon counterpart duties, we stopped by Santa Maria Novella.

It transforms into a “lazy” park where a lot of locals lie down and enjoy the open space.

Morning of 3rd day was spent at another school.

This second school was nearer to Firenze’s city proper.

We had a tour of its facilities…

and was able to go inside their lovely library.

Our free afternoon was used wisely by shopping around Mercato Centrale.

The midnight food market at the Fort got its name from this place. Hundreds of tiangges/stalls sell their authentic leather goods and other pasalubong items at reasonable prices. This is a bag-lover’s paradise.

One major activity that we were required to attend was the opening of a gallery of Filipino artists at Auditorium Al Duomo. We had to wear our Filipiniana attire during that breezy night.

A lot of local dignitaries and Filipino migrants attended the event.

On the 2nd day of our 3-day conference, we visited Galleria degli Uffizi.

A peek from one of its windows can give a view of Ponte Vecchio…

and and eye-level perspective of Al Duomo.

This gallery mostly houses paintings from eminent artists. The original “The Birth of Venus” by Boticelli and “Medusa” by Caravaggio can be found here.

Despite the sunny weather, it was chilly during that time. From the comfortable warm interiors of Uffizi Gallery, we traveled to the Tuscan countryside.

We were able to tour a vineyard where some had the chance to join a wine-tasting activity.

During the 3rd and final day of our academic activity, we had a day and night affair at Auditorium al Duomo. An academic conference was held in the morning and afternoon while a cultural show was held in the evening.

Sir Dan was the brainchild of this activity. He was one of the UP faculty who presented their works concerning local arts, alongside professors from Italy.

Last day of Firenze was a free day for everyone. While others chose to do some last-minute shopping or walk to one of the city’s highest points, some of us chose to do urgent chores (aka laundry) and revisit the Al Duomo. This time, we climbed up the dome itself.

A closer look of its underside shows an elaborate fresco depicting the “Last Judgment.”

A tedious climb upstairs lead us to this macro view of Firenze.

This shows a closer view of a typical structure in the city. 

A magnificent sunset capped off our stay in Firenze. 

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