This week (and next), Friday is our Saturday and the beginning of the weekend. Some have departed for a little travel (Paris, Rome and Barcelona, to be exact), so for those who choose to remain in our “home town,” there’s still plenty to do.


We started with a tour of Florence’s markets, beginning with San’Ambrosio. A smaller and less touristy version of the Mercato Centrale, it provides fresh produce stands under awnings on the exterior of the building, along with clothing, household products, jewelry, shoes, etc. Inside, there is everything from cecce (garbanzo beans) to tripe. Clearly, this is where the Florentines shop.


Next, a stop at the Straw Market near Orsanmichele. Lots of leather (primarily purses and wallets). For leather jackets, the best market is San Lorenzo, our final stop on our tour.


Later in the afternoon, five intrepid students joined us for a walk up to the Forte Belvedere. This military structure was meant to protect Firenze from its hillside position, but it’s not exactly clear whether it really accomplished much (or met with any attacks.) The Belvedere was turned over to the commune of Florence as a historic site and was an exhibition space until six years ago, when it was abruptly closed due to the unfortunate death of a visitor who fell from one of the walls. It has just reopened in July of this year with a fantastic exhibition by the Chinese contemporary artist, Zhang Huan.


A rather steep hill climb was rewarded by an amazing show. Monumental sculptures by Zhang explore Christianity and Buddhism through images of Confucious and Christ. Materials such as aluminum, copper, and ash from the incense burned in temple throughout China, contributed to the unique quality of each work. We spent a great deal of time at the Belvedere which also provided another panoramic view of the Florence skyline, dominated by the cupola. Jenille, Marijke, Lac, Alex, and Claire each put in seven miles of walking with us today!