Strolling Florence’s Oltrarno Neighborhood
To escape the crowds in Florence, all you have to do is cross over the Arno into the far more residential Oltrarno neighborhood. Walking the narrow streets, I spotted a child being picked up at school by her grandfather and scooped onto the front of his bike to ride home. We found a wonderful row of boutique shops just off the Palazzo Pitti on Sdrucciolo dei Pitti and then wandered into a massive church, Santo Spirito, where a crucifix created by Michelangelo at the age of 18 still hangs. The highlight was a stop Lisa vividly remembered from studying abroad in Florence over three decades ago, the Brancacci Chapel. Inside this off-the-beaten-track church is one of Western art’s most important works, the fresco by artists Masaccio and Masolino (started in 1383), most importantly Masaccio’s Expulsion of Adam and Eve. The figures in this work reflect light, giving them a sculptural presence as Masaccio was one of the first artists to use single-point perspective. We ended our day with dinner at Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco, a wonderful restaurant suggested by our friend, Nina. The bruschetta was overflowing with ripe tomatoes and garlic and my tender veal scaloppini was covered with eggplants and peppers, all washed down with good Sangiovese wine. Perfecto!