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Italy revisited – part 1: Florence

April 5, 2015

A friend asked me, at short noticed, whether we could have a holiday break before the end of March, as she needed to use up the paid holiday by the time. I agreed almost instantly, and told her I only needed to have a word with the hubby, which I knew he wouldn’t be against. Then I booked the travel package (including air tickets and hotel) and we accompanied one another to fly off to Florence, Italy!

Last time I visited Italy was more than fifteen years ago, when the currency was still Lira. My family was on a short visit to Venice on the way to Vienna by train. I remember we enjoyed touring the famous water city, though we had not had much knowledge about Italy and its language, and that was the first experience of the country. This time we planned to stay for five days (four nights), mostly in Florence with a day trip to Pisa.

Florence is well-known as the origin of the Renaissance arts and culture in Italy, later spreading to Europe. We stayed in an acclaimed 4 star hotel near the central train station, which was really felt like a 3 star one, compared with those in other European capital cities. Florence doesn’t look modern at all, all streets and buildings are ancient style, often stretching back to hundreds (even a thousand) of years. This feature, to be honest, is exactly what I’d look for, which really makes me thrilled. We walked in town for two days, went to the must-see meseums, palaces and art galleries. The medieval history and arts are fascinating indeed. The oil paintings and sculptures in Uffizi museum alreay made me dazzling, not to mention the vast collection of art works by the Medici family in their palace. The streets are full of artistic temptation as well, with those well-kept 14th century styled magnificent archetectures on display, as I wandered about the streets and the narrow lanes, I felt like I had an instant connection with the ancient people, who seemed to have lived and worked here still visibly. I deeply apprecaited their diligence and persistence, as well as their unmatchable imagination and wisdom in producing these kinds of undying artistic masterpieces. What a legacy they had left for the world! How inspirational to us future generations!

The fact that the painters spent several decades to complete a painting was amazing, and also perplexing as to how slow the life might have been back then. Yet nowadays with the advanced scientific innovation and technology, the pace of people’s lives gets faster and much faster. Since photography becomes popular, manual paintings are not that valued or worth a big fortune as centuries before, and modern artists (unless really talented, devoted and highly competitive on the market) can hardly make a decent living. It’s all down to the marketing which has an invisible force, unfortunately. It is reasonable to imagine why ordinary people would buy an expensive painting whilst it’s so easy to make a real life snapshot in seconds…

So you could also see the downward trend of the economy in the city. Tourism has become the main source of income, alongside the manufacturing of the luxury brands. I felt that compared with the UK, here seemed slightly behind in terms of modernisation. Yet I truly like this beautiful old city, the devotion and the technique of making those artistic masterpieces at that time has impressed me enormously. Maybe it is all about the spirit, the pursuit of excellence in life and then reaching to the peak that has won my admiration and respect for their legacy.

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