Sunday was forecast to be rainy and cold, so we decided to take the day off. Then the sun peaked out, so we opted to venture out for lunch and strike out to a new neighborhood – around San Croce. There was a church there that looked pretty from the outside but didn’t seem as high up on the guidebook’s “must see” list. But we figured we could at least say we saw it.
Lunch in the Neighborhood . . .
The neighborhood turned out to be just what we love – full of locals just living – families walking dogs, parents pushing strollers, and couples lazing about in the sun. We chose an outdoor cafe (with heat lamps) and joined them.
. . . and an Amazing Church
It turned out the church was open so we figured, what the heck, we’re here – let’s look in. Wow. We ended up renting the audioguide and spending several hours. It turns out that this church – that is way down the “must see” list in the guidebooks – is the burial place for Galileo, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and Rossini, among many other famous Florentines. And there were plenty of stories to go with each. For example:
– Michelangelo died in Rome, and they wanted to keep him. So his nephew snuck down there, stole the body, and wrapped it in rags to ferry it back to Florence, where he received a state funeral and was laid to rest at San Croce.
– Galileo took longer to get there because the church would not bury him in the actual sanctuary due to what they deemed his radical scientific theories that seemed to question the its teachings (mainly that the Earth revolved around the Sun, rather than the other way around).
The two rival families of Florence also had elaborate chapels built inside – the Medicis and the Pazzis. It turns out the Pazzis schemed to destroy the Medicis and sent someone to kill the Medici brothers at Easter Sunday Mass at the Duomo across from our apartment. The assassin succeeded in fatally stabbing one brother, while the other brother escaped. The crowd was so angry, it literally tore the killer limb from limb – all this in the church by our house! And you can see why the two rival families might need separate chapels.
But Brrr . . .
We also learned that churches in Florence are not heated. We were freezing by the time we left but didn’t want to stop learning. It took us the rest of the night to warm back up!
So, in lieu of dinner out, we opted to grab a mix of Italian antipasti at the local market and eat in – we feasted on alice (little marinated fish), polpo (octopus), prosciutto (ham), olives, and polenta cakes. Washed down with the wine from the leather store – see prior post. : ) We are really getting into the spirit of things here!