Tempting Tuesday: Church of Santa Trinita in Florence

Anyone who knows me knows that I can’t walk past a church here in Italy without stopping. And if it’s open, I just have to pop my head inside. In big cities and small towns alike, so many of Italy’s artistic treasures tucked away inside churches. Even if you’re not usually one to stop at religious sights while traveling, you’ll miss out a lot of Italy’s great works of art and architecture if you don’t. When I went to Florence earlier this year, I spent an entire day doing what I dubbed my “Church Tour.” This week Katie Greenaway from Olio di Olive e Sogni di Vino has stopped by to share about one of the churches in Florence that I missed during my short visit. All the more reason to return to Florence again soon!

Welcome, Katie!!

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The Church of Santa Trínita was once the church for the wealthy families of Florence, and not only the Medicis. Located outside the original city walls, it was founded by the Vallombrosan Order of monks in the 11th century.  Located in Piazza Santa Trinita off of the famous Via Tornabuoni, the nearby bridge Ponte Santa Trinita is named after this church as well.  

 

The Italian word for “trinity” is trinità, with an accent indicating stress on the last vowel, the Florentine pronunciation puts the stress on the first vowel. So the name is written without an accent; sometimes it is accented as Trìnita to indicate the unusual pronunciation.

Photo courtesy the_blue_lotus on Flickr

The facade was done by Buontalenti in an elegant late Renaissance decor. I visited this church when I was student and was enthralled with the interior of it. There is quite a difference to the interior compared to the exterior. As you enter the church, turn around to face the door and you’ll notice Romanesque stonework that was found at the turn of the century. During that same time, the floor from the 11th century and a crypt was revealed. The floor mosaics from the 11th century floor are on display at the Bargello. If you want to visit the crypt, you will need to book an appointment.  

Photo courtesy David Bramhall on Flickr

The most famous work of art is located in the Sassetti Chapel inside Santa Trìnita. Francesco Sassetti, a merchant banker for the Medici family, commissioned Domenico Ghirlandaio to produce such a wonder for your eyes to look upon. Originally the fresco cyle depicting The Life of St. Francis was used to commemorate the death of the one of Sassetti’s sons and the birth of another. In scene of Francis Receiving the Order from Pope Honorius depicts the likes of Lorenzo de’Medici, Antonio Pucci, the Francesco Sassetti himself with his son Federico on the right. Ghirlandaio used real people in those times and painted them into the scenes of The Life of St. Francis. I could stare at this chapel for hours. The people come to life for me. Ghirlandaio positioned some of the figures so they could be looking out at you. You can really feel yourself in the fresco.

Ghirlandaio depicted some of the key architectural sights of Florence in these frescoes as well. In the background of the scene showing The Approval of the Rule of Saint Francis by Pope Onorio III, you can see the Palazzo Vecchio and Orcagna’s Loggia. When Saint Francis receives the Stigmata you can see a view of the Santuario della Verna, an abbey in the hills between Florence and Arezzo. Francesco Sassetti and his wife, Nera Corsi, were buried in the tombs in the Sassetti Chapel and are also shown kneeling facing the altar in the frescoes.

Santa Trinita is free to enter and is open Monday-Sunday 8am-12pm, 4pm-6pm, Sunday and Holidays 4pm-6pm.  

Chiesa di Santa Trinita – Firenze

Piazza S. Trinita – Tel. 055 216912

 

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Katie Greenaway is a freelance travel writer and is the Local Expert of Florence for Nile Guide where she also provides the secrets of Florence on her blog.  She writes about her life in Florence on her personal blog Olio di Oliva e Sogni di Vino and contributes to MNUI Travel Insurance with travel articles.

Tempting Tuesday: Falling in Love with Florence

This week Cecil Lee, travel photographer extraordinaire, is back to tell us about Florence, another spot in Italy he fell in love with during his travels earlier this year. And since I just visited there for the first time this past spring, I know what it’s like to fall in love with the beauty of Florence.

Welcome Cecil!

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Apart from falling in love with Venice during my trip to Italy, I also found myself falling for the art, historical and cultural capital of Italy – Florence. A UNESCO’s World Heritage Site, Florence is the capital of the Tuscany region in the middle of Italy. I fell in love with Florence because she is so elegant and different from the rest of Italian cities I visited. The city lies on the River Arno, which separates Florence into new and historic sections. Florence is known as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance with its strongest influence in Italian art and architecture. Two of the greatest artists of the Renaissance, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, lived and worked in this beautiful city.

Duomo of Florence by Cecil Lee

Florence is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. When we first arrived at its main rail station Santa Maria Novella, abbreviated as SMN, and walked out from the station, we were surprised to find ourselves already in the heart of historic Florence. We started to explore the city attractions one by one since they were all within walking distance. The most dominant icon of Florence would definitely be the Duomo, or Cathedral, the highest building in Florence. Climbing up 460 steps of spiral staircase to the tower top offers the best view of Florence. Next would be the Accademia Gallery. I had to queue for 45 minute to get in, but it was worth it to see the original David, the greatest sculpture done by my favorite sculptor Michelangelo.

Fontana del Nettuno by Cecil Lee

Sitting at one of the many open air cafés at Piazza Della Signoria, I could actually see some of those famous sculptures as well as people watching. A replica statue of David could be found here. For my wife who loves leather bags and wallets, the San Lorenzo open market was a “must-go” spot. We spent hours in there to buy some of those high quality local leather products such as shoes, bags, wallet that are made in Firenze.

San Lorenzo Market by Cecil Lee

In the evening, we walked along the River Arno, the main river of Florence and Tuscany. We came to the Ponte Vecchio bridge, the oldest and most famous bridge that crosses over the River Arno. There are shops selling jewelry, art and souvenirs. In the evening under the setting sun, it just looked marvelous in yellow color. 

When the night fell, we took a bus up to the hill top at Piazzale Michelangelo. It is the best viewpoint to Florence city skyline. I set up my DSLR onto a tripod and shot endlessly!

Florence at Night by Cecil Lee

Florence is also a great location for visiting other important cities of Tuscany, such as Sienna and the wine producing area Chianti to try the Chianti Classico wine. Florence offers much more than that, too. The local foods are marvelous! I couldn’t help but to try the local gelato, as well as the famous Florence steak with a glass of Italian Chianti Classico wine as well as the traditional bread with Tuscan Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Florence offers so much beauty to discover!

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Cecil Lee is an avid traveler who is also a passionate travel blogger and travel photographer living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He writes about travel for MNUI travel insurance and on his own travel photo blog, Travel Feeder.

Photo Friday: Early Morning in Florence

 

Last week I was invited by Katie Greenaway over at Olio di Oliva e Sogni di Vino to write about one of my favorite photos. I chose this one from my trip to Florence last May, because it reminds me of the beautiful moments I spent watching the city come to life each morning. If you’re looking for a little Friday reading, pop over and check out my guest post called Swallows Over the Rooftops of Florence. (There’s a video, too!)

Happy Friday!

Tempting Tuesday: In Love with Venice by Cecil Lee

While Venice might not be geographically all that close to the Amalfi Coast, it is a place very close to my heart. The first time I traveled to Italy, I visited Venice and only Venice (with a little jaunt to see the Museo Ferrari in Maranello), and it was a memorable trip. For this week’s Tempting Tuesday, Cecil Lee, an avid traveler and photographer, tells us about his experiences visiting Venice earlier this year.

Welcome, Cecil!

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One of the cities that I love most in Italy is definitely Venice. Venice is composed of 118 small islands separating by canals. It is sited along Adriatic Sea in Northeast Italy. Not unexpectedly, it is also the most valuable island in Italy as researches tell us that Venice is sinking by 5mm each year and by the year 2050, most parts of Venice will be underwater! In fact, many parts of the city are already sunken into water and long vacant. When I was there last summer, St. Mark’s Square, the most famous landmarks in Venice, was partly flooded in the morning during high tide.

 

Venice1 Cecil Lee Photo by Cecil Lee

 

How should I describe Venice? I was stunned and amazed by the beautiful scenic view of the city when I first visited the island. The whole city is surrounded by sea and divided by canals. Naturally, the main means of transportation there is by water. Most of the great buildings are not new. They were constructed centuries ago and many of them are already partly sunken into sea water!

Tourists attractions are mainly concentrated along the main waterway, Grand Canal of Venice. Hotels, restaurants, shops and pubs are spread along it and around the Rialto Bridge. But I like to explore further into the local lifestyle, by walking away from the tourists spots without the worry of getting lost. There are always signs showing the direction back to Rialto Bridge or Piazza San Marco. Drinking coffee and eating home made pizza with Venetians in any of the local cafés and restaurants is definitely exciting and rewarding.

 

Venice2 Cecil Lee Photo by Cecil Lee

 

Of course, I love also those main tourists attractions in Venice, such as St. Mark’s Square, the Bridge of Sighs and the Rialto Bridge. Make sure you bring enough memory SD cards, because I snap, snap and snap not less than 1000 photos when I was in Venice! The sky was so blue and clear, the sunlight so bright and beautiful and my photos all turned out fantastic. Though the sun was hot, I could always cool down by eating gelato after gelato!

 

Venice3 Cecil Lee  Photo by Cecil Lee

 

Having coffee at the outdoor seating of the famous Florian coffee bar in St. Mark’s Square, listening to live violin music and witnessing the colors of the sunset in front of the historical St. Mark’s Basilica was an enchanting experience.

I love also the romantic setting all over Venice especially the gondola ride along the Grand Canal, which definitely will make your stay in Venice a memorable honeymoon trip. The environment there is perfect for falling in love, so be careful who you go to Venice with!

Whoever has seen Venice will definitely want to go back for more. I’m certainly one of them…

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Cecil Lee is an avid traveler who is also a passionate travel blogger and travel photographer living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He writes about travel for MNUI travel insurance and on his own travel photo blog, Travel Feeder.

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Have you been to Venice? What do you remember most?

A Delectable Panino in Florence by Katie Greenaway

When I visited my friend Katie in Florence this past May, she was kind enough to meet me at the train station since it was my first time in Florence. After dropping off my bag at the hotel, my stomach rumbling reminded me that after the train ride from Salerno to Florence it was certainly time for lunch. When I asked Katie for a suggestion on where we should go, she responded with, “Do you want something cheap or something good?” I said, “Something cheap AND good.” Off we went to her favorite panino shop, which was a memorable and fun experience. I’ve tried to recreate that panino here on the Amalfi Coast, but it’s just not the same without the Tuscan prosciutto,  pecorino and artichokes. Yum! Here’s Katie to tell you more about where to find the best sandwiches in Florence.

Welcome, Katie!

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Vinaino di Parte Guelfa opened about a year and half ago by two good friends, Luca and Leonardo, who happen to be brothers-in-law as well.  Having done every job under the sun, they decided to open this delicious panino shop in the center of Florence.  Both natives of Florence, they have now accumulated new friends from the city and all over the world.  They tell me they enjoy speaking with folks that frequent the shop.  Social interactions are what they thrive on!  Sometimes it seems as if they are bartenders as well since every time I am in there someone is complaining about their life, while Luca and Leonardo add their two sense here and there and then let the client vent.  It’s an extra bonus to be able to let all your worries and concerns out to your neighborhood sandwich extraordinaires.

 

vinainodeli Photo courtesy Vinaino di Parte Guelfa

 

I entered this sandwich shop because of a recommendation from a friend.  Often I’m nervous entering a new establishment in Florence since I’m very shy and it takes time before I feel comfortable with the owners and then can loosen up and talk up a storm with the clients and perhaps help out the tourists order.  The shop is very small with only 2 tall and very tiny tables.  Most people congregate outside on the curb during the busy lunch hour since there is no room inside.  When arriving during the hours of 1pm to 3pm, expect a line.  Don’t worry as it moves quite fast.  Luca and Leonardo are very helpful and patient with each customer foreign or not.  (Bare with them they are still learning English!)  It is hard to decide when there are savory meats and tantalizing aromas making you second-guess yourself.

 

schiacciatinabywww.terradivirgilio.itPhoto courtesy Terra di Virgilio 

 

The menu is small and versatile, offering you the choice between having a schiacciatina and panino .  A simple panino with prosciutto crudo and pecorino fresco will run you only €2,50.  If you are like me who like to mix tons of fresh flavors of Tuscany together, then it will cost you just €1 more, €3,50.  Beverages consist of vino (wine), Fanta, Coca-Cola, water and beer.  All will be from €1 to €1,50.  I suggest the vino after a long day of walking in Florence!

 

vinainolucaleo Photo courtesy Vinaino di Parte Guelfa

 

This delectable panino shop is located off the beaten path on Via Val di Lamona right near Mercato Nuovo.  The street is very small and once you walk down it, you will see the token barrel outside the shop.  That’s your cue that you’ve arrived at this scrumptious panino shop!

 

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Katie Greenaway is a freelance travel writer and is the Local Expert of Florence for Nile Guide where she also provides the secrets of Florence on her blog.  She writes about her life in Florence on her personal blog Olio di Oliva e Sogni di Vino and contributes to MNUI travel insurance with travel articles.