To view Florence from a distant hill is to round the corner within a grand museum and be transfixed by a magnificent tapestry. The eye dances to and fro as it takes in the full grand sweep of beauty; the mind boggles as it searches for the familiar landmarks of the Duomo, the Palazzo Vecchio, the gentle s-shape the Arno river under the Ponte Vecchio.
As with any great work of art, one is drawn to inspect up close; to examine the individual colors and threads and knots. It is only by going down into the city of Florence and wandering within the maze of ancient buildings on narrow curving streets that one gets the impression that Florence is more like a three dimensional, semi transparent, overlapping patchwork quilt.
The changing esthetics of ages past are loosely knit together by cobbled stone lanes and flaking mortar. The colors and designs of generations of artists and architects are sometimes preserved in their full original glory; sometimes they are totally obscured by succeeding works; often they partially reemerge through those later overwrites.