Leaving our CouchSurfing hosts in Pisa behind, and with the strain of a hard day’s walk in Cinque Terre swelling in our legs, we set off for the next part of our trip from the sunny north of Italy to the sunny middle.
Florence city centre was expecting to host us for two days so we could refresh ITALIAN/Franca’s memory of a visit of several years past, and the culmination – for me – of more than ten years of waiting & desire to visit ‘the Origin of Modern Art’: Firenze. Firenze (or Florence if you’d prefer) was the subject of a term or two’s schooling during my teens & served as one of my first experiences of learning the cultures & histories of countries that weren’t my own. Learning how art was encouraged to flourish into new depths of the imagination was the starting point.
The stiflingly hot train pulled into Firenze Santa Maria Novella Station & people began to drag backpacks from overheads & shopping bags from beneath legs. As we stepped down from the train to the platform – between the hustle & bustle of pushy impatient people and tourists & backpackers alike – I could see the light breaking through the glass ceiling, the spectacular shape of the building – even the font of the above the door signs – coming into view.
Clearly owing much to the 1930’s & 40’s, the art-deco style spoke to me & pulled me in. Forget looking for the exit. I’m only interested in standing around & taking it in.
According to Wikipedia the station was…
…designed in 1932 by a group of architects known as the Gruppo Toscano (Tuscan Group) of which Giovanni Michelucci and Italo Gamberini were among the members; the building was constructed between 1932 and 1934….
…but you’d be forgiven for thinking it was later than that. As art deco in theme some parts of the building may be, the lines of the roof and – as you see later – the outside of the building all look more modern. In fact, it may be fair to say that some modern buildings owe a lot of their inspiration to this unspoken tourist attraction.
There wasn’t much more time I could have taken to take better pictures as Franca reminded me that there was an agenda to keep, and people to meet, but I wish I would have gotten some better pictures to represent how I saw Santa Maria Novella.
We had little time, Franca went looking for information on the trains back out of Florence, I took off to grab a few photos of the fonts for others to see.
I love how the font jumps out at you off the marble tiled walls. It was impressive to see so many signs around the station very much intact even after eighty hot summers & similarly hot winters.
So I found Franca using her “Small Person Powers” to get through the crowds & check the times.
Times checked & backpacks on, it’s out of the exit and into the city streets.
Everyday, people will arrive into Florence with a list of landmarks as long of your arm that must be seen & must be photographed – the David, the Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio & the Ponte Vecchio – but how many of them will have Firenze’s Santa Maria Novella station jotted at the bottom? Hopefully, after this post, one more.
TIP – Santa Maria Novella Train Station has a fantastic ‘left luggage’ office but be mindful of the times you can collect, and more mindful of the maximum time you can leave items there. We found it to be extremely cheaper than people had suggested.