First and Last Suppers

From the paint factory at Porcari the Autostrada (motorway) del Mare exit is just round the corner. The autostrada provides the quickest way of getting to Florence from there. There are, of course,  more attractive alternative routes. From Longoio, for example, it’s possible to travel through the Controneria, reach the Abetone road and from La Lima take the turning for San Marcello Pistoiese and Pistoia. It’s quite a mountainous road but full of marvellous panoramas.

With regard to the autostrada it’s possible to cut it out completely and head south-east towards the FI-PI-LI (Firenze, Pisa, Livorno superstrada) crossing an interesting area called Le Cerbaie which is covered by large undulating forests growing over a glacial moraine and passing through the worthwhile town of Fucecchio near which there is a lake with some of the best bird-watching in the whole of Tuscany.


Before the great land reclamations of the Medici large tracts of the Arno valley were covered by swamps and lagoons. The lake at Fucecchio represents one of the last remaining areas of wetland in the region and clearly the birds have been coming here for millennia. There’s an elegant bird hide you can use and if you’re fed up with mountain paths there are plenty of lovely flat walks around. Indeed, the whole area reminds me a little of Wicken Fen in East Anglia!

Florence is, of course, full of good things at any time of the year – there is no question of scraping the barrel with its stupendous attractions even if you (think you) know it intimately.

One of the places I always like to have a look in is the best of the various cenacoli (or last suppers) dotted around the city. For me this is the cenacolo di San Salvi, painted by Andrea del Sarto and completed in 1527. Stories relate that the whole convent complex was captured by hostile troops during the siege of Florence, which happened shortly afterwards,  who were about to destroy it but stopped short when they gazed on the magnificence of this cenacolo.


Would  hostile forces were so sensitive to works of art today!


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