|Florence for Peace—Sign outside the Florence train station|
|The façade of the duomo and campanile|
|The campanile and dome|
|The main door to the duomo|
Two final notes about the duomo: The façade is a combination of pink, white and green marble from various areas of Tuscany. Most interesting is that the façade is not original and dates to the 19th century.
Second, if you look at the main doors (above), you can see a mosaic above depicting Christ with his mother, Mary. The relief on the door also show an enthroned Holy Mother. The side doors (not shown) also have relief work depicting scenes from the life of Mary.
|Fresh fruit in Mercato Centrale|
Many tourists who go to Florence know about the Mercato San Lorenzo, but they don't realize that there is a huge covered market in the midst of all the craziness.
Housed in a 140-year old building, the Mercato Centrale houses vendors selling fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, flowers, spices, candies, pastries, and anything else you can think of. Recently renovated, the market also has a second floor "food court" with enough seating for more than 500 people. Surprisingly, the prices were less than what I found in the Modena market and about on-par with the Bologna market.
|A butcher tying up pork roast|
A few vendors told me that since cooking shows have become so popular in the last few years, more and more tourists find out about and flock to the market.
Just outside the doors of the market, on all four sides of the building, are hundreds of stalls selling everything from t-shirts to magnets to scarves to, and especially, leather goods. Most people don't realize that during the Renaissance, it was the textile industry that originally gave Florence a strong economy. Wool, was the main product, and in the early 14th century, nearly 1/3 of the population worked in the wool industry. By the end of the century, they added silk production.
|A wool coat I would buy if I had an extra 175 euro|
In addition to the stalls at San Lorenzo and Mercato Nuovo, there are leather shops all over Florence. Prices vary from one minute to the next, and everyone swears his/her leather is genuine leather that was "Made in Italy." Unfortunately, most tourists don't do their homework and find out later that their bargain ostrich-leather purse was really made in China.
I walked through the market on my way to the duomo Friday, and I did stop to look at a number of items. One vendor stopped me.
"Signora. Signora. Where you from? United States?" I hadn't said a word. At least he didn't think I was British.
|Leather stand on the street near Mercato Nuovo|
"Let me look," I finally said to him in Italian. I particularly loved one jacket that he had, but it was way too expensive at 250 euro.
"It's pure lamb skin...made in Florence...guaranteed." He wanted me to buy it. "We're the only ones who have this style."
"I just saw the same jacket a few stalls down."
"Theirs isn't real leather from Italy." Of course not.
I bought nothing, of course, although I will admit that I got caught the last time we were in Florence. I love the scarves sold at the market. Last time we were in Florence, I bought a number of them because they were "MADE IN ITALY." We went to Prague, and I saw the same scarves—"MADE IN CZECH REPUBLIC." Then I went home, and I saw the same scarves in Dillard's—"MADE IN CHINA." Oops.
Tomorrow: I scarf-hunt in Florence and a few fun tidbits.
Side note: Thanks for your patience for the 12 days I was without internet access in my apartment.