Sunday, September 11, 2016

Santo Spirito, San Miniato al Monte

I did think several times today about the events of 15 years ago; it seems in some ways like yesterday, though I cannot see it as most Americans do, a day that changed everything. We were extraordinarily lucky before that, and then we experienced what the rest of the world has, forever. Perhaps what changed is that many of us were forced to wake up and to realize that we are none of us safe until we are all safe.

Off the somber thoughts. After sleeping in, we took our time getting ready and thus missed Hotel La Scaletta breakfast. Off to Caffe Ricchi for duo doppio caff√® and brioche (2 double espressos plus croissants in the U.S.). 10 Euros and no pane √® coperto (literally "bread and tableware," but essentially a cover or service charge), so not at all a bad deal, considering it could be 3 times as much just a few blocks away. There was a market in the piazza, so we wandered through after eating. An odd mix, with farmers’ market and flea—some antiques, books, albums, our brass guy (though I did not buy anything today), some beautiful lace tablecloths, and a stall of hats by which I am sorely tempted. It was fun just to look. (These are a mix of pictures Shawn and I took in the piazza, but for some reason, neither of us got any of the center, behind those trees and with other nice places to sit. We were on the steps of the church ...)





Back to La Scaletta for more cash, and then off to buy bus tickets to head to San Miniato al Monte, where, as it is higher up, we hoped it would be slightly cooler. (Do check out this site; they have nice pictures of things we didn't think to catch, including the steps up to the church.) We were able to find out way to the bus stop near Ponte alla Carraia where we could get the number 12 to Piazzele Michelangelo; we had only a short wait, but got onto a very crowded bus.

Ponte alla carraia, view
Borrowed (legitimately) from Wikipedia
At each stop, more crowded in, and only occasionally did one get off. It was hot, and eventually a guy got in who kept jabbing me (unintentionally, I choose to believe) in the right breast with his elbow; I wished heartily for some armor, though I would have stewed in it. We were very happy to get off at the base of the stairs up to the church.


When we walked up, we found the whole of the open space before the church filled with chairs and a concert stage, though there were only a few musicians there, warming up and doing sound checks. We walked into the cemetery, which we’d visited on our last trip. Photos inside are discouraged, but http://www.museumsinflorence.com/musei/san_miniato.html has a few, and here are just a couple we took.

That name may be familiar.... (Shawn's photo)
One of mine from the last trip...
It is full of large and expensive-looking above-ground marble crypts, interspersed with more open areas of crowded graves, shaded by huge old cypress trees and overlooked by multi-story shared crypts. After only a very minutes on a bench in the shade, down from some very loud Chinese girls, the announcement came over the loud speaker that the cemetery was closing, and asking us to make our way to the exit. We did not see even so much of it as on our last trip. It may be an odd place to visit on vacation, but the monuments and the trees are very peaceful, and you know that you are not in the U.S.

We made our way back to the church itself, and it, once again, did not disappoint. These pictures from inside are mine from our last trip; this time we mostly just looked.



Shawn's detail shot of the front of the church
We sat for a bit in the crypt, contemplating the reliquary, and then went up. We were unable to go into the lovely side chapel that I remember fondly from our last visit, but the altar piece and the ceilings and mosaics are lovely. Again, http://www.museumsinflorence.com/musei/san_miniato.html has more and better pictures than we got this time.

As we left, we saw a number of brides arriving to take pictures at the scenic overlook at the base of the steps, including one in a vintage white VW bug decorated with white tulle. And with this as a backdrop, you can see why they like this spot (photo credits to Shawn).








We walked back down the scenic stair, stopping briefly at the rose garden, which, as it’s September, is a bit thin on roses, but was full of people. No shots from this time, but here's a memory of it from May 2014...


This one's mine! That's part of the 14th century city wall in the background

Hot and crowded as the bus was, it’s a much better way to get up to Piazzele Michelangelo (which is just a couple blocks away, and the most well-known spot from which to view Florence) than walking up as we did last time; walking back down the stairs to San Niccolo is no effort at all. Though we would like to see the tower at San Niccolo, we didn't get there today; these pictures Shawn took will have to suffice.




We were getting hungry, so we walked back to La Galleria, where we feasted on Aperol Spritz with bruschetta, followed by fettucine al pesto for Shawn and a paccheri (large tube pasta, fresh in this case) with pomodoro, melanzane (tomatoes, eggplant) and pecorino for me, as well as a liter of the house white. All was delicious, and was followed by insalata mista (green salad, usually eaten after your main courses and before dessert in Italy), and then crostata di amaretti e marmellata di lamponi, made in house and wonderful. (That’s a tart made from crumbled almond cookies, with jam and raspberries…. It, and everything else was delicious.)

After, a brief nap at La Scaletta—another day at over 90 degrees F, and while we are being smarter about not trying to walk quite so far, it is still exhausting just being out in the heat.

We decided to go back to Sapori & Dintorni CONAD (the supermercato on Via dei Bardi) for things to eat in our room with one of the bottles of Vernacchia we bought earlier (and have been keeping chilled in the room frig); it was a large lunch, and we were ready to take have a bit of quieter time. After narrowly missing being run over more than once by the woman scrubbing floors, we escaped with grapes, pears, aged pecorino, crema pecorino, olives, a good loaf of Tuscan bread, lingue di gatto (cats’ tongue cookies, very thin and light sugar cookies, shaped like rather than containing cats’ tongues, from a ‘forni artiginiale’—artisanal bakery—in Livorno), with some plastic silverware. We had a lovely picnic as the air cooled; we were enjoying not doing much at all, and looking out the window at Forte Belvedere...


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