Thursday, July 18, 2019

Grand Tour of Italy: Florence

Last week I posted about Pisa and showed this Tuscany map:

Florence is 87 km east of Pisa, which we did the next day, on 5 April.

That was the only day of the tour that we rode the train, from our hotel in Montecatini Terme.

Our stop in Florence was at the Santa Maria Novella railway station,
which meant we got to walk by the church, consecrated in 1420, on our way into city center.

I wanted to stop and take photos of everything I saw as we kept walking...

...especially this inner courtyard of the Palazzo Strozzi, from 1489.
But we were on a mission to get to the...

...yup, right in front of us, the Florence Duomo/Cathedral, from 1436.

As we walked into the piazza, the baptistry came first (at the edge of the left image above).

It's a stand-alone, and at this view, hides the cathedral, except for the campanile.

When you walk around and face the Baptistry, this is what you see.
(The cathedral is behind us.)

As you'd guess, the Baptistry is known for it's bronze doors by Lorenzo Ghiberti in 1401.
It marks the city's deliverance from the plague.

After the Baptistry, it was time to concentrate on the Cathedral.
What faces you opposite the Baptistry is the flat side, which is the front (bottom-left).

Here's the cathedral entrance.
See how crowded it is!  There was no way we could get in
with the time we had and everything else left to see..

So we took photos instead!

Later in the day we walked all around it to get it's many faces.
It's gigantic!

Obviously, the Cathedral was the most important landmark of the day.
But just as obviously, there was so much more to the town hall/Palazzo Vecchio.
It overlooks the Piazza della Signoria, with its many famous statues... Michelangelo's David (now a replica, bottom-center).
I was most taken by Perseus holding up the head of Medusa, by Cellini in 1554!

I should mention that our bus tour guide took Astrid and me on our own personal tour in Florence.
At this point she mentioned that the Romans were all about male/masculine power!
Can you tell?????

The town hall has 3 courtyards, of which Vasari's is the first, 
with a copy of Verrocchio's Putto fountain.

From town hall we walked through the Uffizi Gallery, a prominent art museum.

Look who I captured as we walked through:
Dante Allighieri, Donatello, Michelang Buonarroti, and Leonardo da Vinci.

Oh, and at the entrance, a nameless mime!

By this point we were at the Arno river to see the famous Ponte Vecchio.
Actually, I say famous but I had never heard of it in my life.
It very much reminded me of the Pulteney Bridge in Bath, England...

...with shops on either side of the street, crossing the bridge.

On our way back towards city center, our guide made sure we saw Porcellino
the bronze fountain of a boar, by Pietro Tacca from 1634.
You place a coin inside its jaws to let it fall through the underlying grating for good luck. 
Of course, Astrid did her duty after several attempts (it wasn't easy).

Our guide then left us to our own devices, to wander where we wished.

Many big cities still allow horses and buggies for the tourists.
I have mixed emotions about the practice and only take photos.

You know me.  Lots of impressions.

Street scenes.  Street artists.

Street people. 
That's a postal woman with her "car" (top-right).

I even got some nice gable stones/misc.

And if anyone can tell me what this is, back near the cathedral where we waited for our group, 
you get a Gold Star.

Florence, the space of 5.5 hours.
It's definitely better than nothing and I'll never forget it!


  1. Florence is one of my favourite cities. Beautiful photos!

    1. I'd have to spend much more time there, Marie, to see everything we missed! We were certainly impressed by what we did see. Thanks.

  2. wow, that's a LOT to take in!! i did see the David in the first set of photos, but all the other statues i didn't know...
    hubby went to Italy when in college, but i think the only thing he remembers is the food and the girl he was chasing at the time lol just joking
    thank you for the tour!! beautiful!!

    1. So glad you enjoyed the tour, Elaine. There was even some stuff I didn't include. HA!

  3. Too much to see for a few hours or even in one day, Ginnie. But I am glad that we saw what we saw and that you took a gazillion pictures. Again I am glad that you make these posts to have a closer look each time. I am glad that Ellie took us for our private tour, not too much talking, she showed us a lot. IHVJ.

    1. It was a lucky day for us, Astrid, in that we didn't have to stick with the group for their Dutch guide. Ellie speaks good English and was able to help ME catch all the important stuff. And then we were on our own for the rest of the day. So much to see.... I'm glad I can still keep track of it all!

  4. Short of eyes. I'm going to bookmark all these Italy posts for when I eventually get there.

    1. Short of eyes is a good way to describe the entire tour, Maria. And yes, bookmark these for when you go and then ask any questions. Just remember that we weren't in any one place for long!

  5. Florence is incredible, and I'd love to go back, as I did not appreciate it enough when I was 19. I did not realize then, for instance, that the David statue I saw was not the original, which is in the Galleria dell'Accademia! Your photos are wonderful.

    1. I don't think we appreciated it enough either, Ruth, in our limited time, but I'm so glad I have a taste of it. I can totally understand why you'd want to go back! Thank you.