Mama and Emily went to see Mrs. Morris, so Grace, Miss M. and I started sight seeing. We happened to drop in S. Trinitat, which is one of the oldest churches in the city. The interior was restored in 1884 and has some very nice frescoes and altars, but by this time they begin to “Look all alike to me.”
From here we went to the Piazza Della Signoria, which, with the Palazzo Vecchio and the Loggia del Lanzi, once the Forum of the Republic, was once the scene of its popular assemblies and tumults, its festivals and its executions, and is still an important center of business and pleasure.
We visited the Vecchio Palace, a castle-like building. The outer court has a large basin of porphyry marble with a boy with a fish as a fountain figure. Upstairs is a Great Hall constructed in 1495 for the Great Council of the city. In 1503, Leonardo de Vinci and Michael Angelo were commissioned to decorate this hall with frescoes from Florentine history, but it is now decorated with frescoes by Vasari and his pupils, with tapestry and six groups of statues of the labors of Hercules by Rossi.
Next we went into the Saladei Dugento, which is now used as the meeting place of the municipal council. The Loggia dei Lanzi, a magnificent open hall, was designed for solemn ceremonies, which it might be desirable to perform before the people. It contains statues of Faith, Hope, Charity, Temperance, and Fortitude.
Strolling along the very interesting narrow streets, constantly dodging automobiles and other vehicles, as the sidewalk is too small to hold more than one or two pedestrians walking aside of each other, we came to the church of Santa Croce, the largest church belonging to any of the mendicants orders (Franciscans).
To give you an idea of its size, I may mention that the center nave is 374 feet long x 63 feet high and produces an impressive effect, which is much enhanced by its numerous monuments of celebrated men. This church may be called the “Pantheon of Florence.” Here is the Tomb of Michael Angelo, a monument of Dante, another one to the composer Cherubini, Rossine, and others. There is a beautiful marble pulpit in this church, which is pronounced the most beautiful pulpit in Italy.
We next passed the Cr. S. Michele Church to which we were attracted by the statues which are placed in niches on the exterior of the walls. They were given by the twelve guilds of Florence. The interior, which is very dark, has some fine windows made in the 13th century. There is a fine Tabernacle in this church, made of marble and precious stones, completed in 1359.
In the afternoon, we decided to go to the Boboli Garden, which is in the rear of the Pitti Palace. While standing on a corner, a fellow tried to pick Emily’s pocket, and she struck at his arm, he looked so very innocent that we “Let it pass,” as a good joke.
On the way to the garden, we enjoyed a walk along the Arno River, and we had a fine view of the quaint buildings along the river front. We then crossed the Vecchio Bridge, consisting of three arches, and which is covered and has shops on either side, which have belonged to the goldsmiths since the fourteenth century. In the center is a bronze bust of Benvenuto Celline, sculptor and goldsmith in 1550.
The Boboli Garden extends in terraces up the hill in back of the Pitti Palace. It was laid out in 1550 under Cosimo I and commands a succession of charming views of Florence. The long walks are bordered with evergreens, some 15 feet in height and give a most delightful shade. Vases and statues are in many places, and the entire effect is different from anything I have ever seen.
We first ascended to the amphi-theatre, an open space at the back of the palace, enclosed by oak hedges and rows of seats, which was formerly used for festivities of the court. Steep paths brought us to the fountain of Neptune, with the old fellow on top and hundreds of gold fish in the basin. We enjoyed the cool shaded walks very much and returned in time for dinner. All tired and glad to get to bed.