Christmas holidays. We are resting, dreaming, and reminiscing. About what? Our first summer in Italy? Why not? That summer, my wife and I took a big trip around northern Italy and visited several cities. Which of them would I like to revisit and why?
I’d like to see Milan
The lacy cathedral, as I call it. The construction of Duomo, as it is called by the Milanese, took ages. Celtic sanctuary at first, then, during the time of the ancient Romans, the Temple of Minerva stood just where the lacy white-marble cathedral aspires to reach the sky now. The Duomo in the city of Milan is the biggest marble building of the world. Unique in its size and beauty, it might be the best template of the flaming Gothic in the whole of Italy.
Here, close to the Duomo, we ate one of the best lasagnas in Italy.
The famous Teatro alla Scala a Milano and fashionable, always crowded Passaggio are located nearby.
I’d like to stay in San Gimignano for a while
This is a special place, a kind of medieval Manhattan in Italy.
San Gimignano is located just 50 kilometers from Florence. In the middle of the 12th century, competing patrician families which ruled the city started to construct high stony towers. Some of these reached 50 meters, a tremendous height for the Middle Ages. After dozens of years, San Gimignano was filled with 72 medieval skyscrapers which symbolized the power of their creators. This city is a miracle even for Italy! Unfortunately, only 13 or 14 towers survive, but regardless of time, San Gimignano managed to preserve the look of a remarkably feudal city.
Of course, traditional Italian souvenirs are everywhere: pasta, truffles, wild boar sausage, and wine. Specialists highly recommend Tuscany Brunello. Unfortunately, we had not appreciated the special taste of this wine the first time, but a lunch in one local restaurant was way ahead of the competition, as always in Italy! After that, we proceeded to wander among the medieval streets enjoying their incomparable magic.
If you ever decide to visit San Gimignano, keep in mind that summer in Italy is the high season, and this city attracts millions of tourists. Therefore, you should arrive there either at dawn or in the evening, and probably stay for a night. One day, we will do this too.
I’d like to stroll around Venice
Did the builders of Venice ever think that their city would become one of the most significant and famous places on Earth? It became famous after all, although I am ready to admit that there are two opposing opinions about Venice. I know there are people who don’t like it.
However, for some people, Venice is a place of incredible attraction. My wife fell under the spell of this aged beauty in a matter of minutes. Having seeing Venice only once, many people dream of coming here again, and some do return. Many of them start to visit it regularly. For others, Venice is nothing more than a funny attraction, a city that can be looked over for two days maximum. For them, it is hot and stuffy in summer, foggy and windy in winter, sanitary norms are doubtful, and the water in the canals smells musty in the heat.
I guess it will be interesting to find myself in Piazza San Marco during the flood. It is possible, if we arrive here for the carnival. (UPDATE: We have done it.)
People of the Roman Empire were forced to escape from the barbarians to the islands. This is how Venice and the unique relationship between humans and water was born. For me, Venice is a mysterious lady of incomparable beauty! Hard working and desperate people built their amazing city and adapted to life in the midst of the sea with its storms, ebbs, flows, and floods. They not only learned to build their houses on pilings, but they managed to create a powerful democratic state which maintained its independence for fifteen hundred years.
Yes, I said democratic state, because Venice never was a monarchy. Almighty Venetian doges were not monarchs at all. You will never find monuments to the former rulers in Venice. Venetians never recognized the cult of personality. A doge was elected through a complicated voting system, and in fact after the elections he lost his personal freedom and started to serve the Republic.
I’d like to stay in Florence forever!
Oh, Florence, Florence. Translated from the Latin it means “Blooming.” This city is extremely interesting for me with its museums, galleries, and cathedrals.
Firenze was founded by the order of the great Julius Caesar who gave a small area of the land on the bank of the Arno River to the veterans of his army. At different times Florence went through attacks by barbarians, wars, and internecine quarreling, but the 9th – 10th centuries were the start of its progress. Soon, Florence became a city of bankers and patrons. Countless treasures circulated on this golden bridge.
Florence was the place where the first Italian and even European gold coins were minted in 13th century. The famous dynasty, Famiglia de’ Medici, which later became relatives of French and Austrian kings, came from the Florentine bankers. Medicis ruled the “blooming city” for 300 years. In those times Florence became a cultural center of Europe, and the local dialect formed the basis of the literary Italian.
Florence significantly impacted on the development of the world civilization in presenting the Renaissance to the world. Small by modern standards, this city endowed the world with such giants as Donatello, Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Botticelli, Rafael, Benvenuto Cellini, Dante, Petrarch, Galilei, and the Florentine navigator Amerigo Vespucci whose name was given to the two continents. You can’t help admiring the San-Marco Monastery and Santa-Maria Novella Cathedral, Medici Chapel and San-Lorenzo Church, amazing Duomo, and Dantes quarter.
God bless you, bella Italia, in summer, autumn, winter, and spring.