Italy 2015 ~ Florence

We set off on a dreary morning for our daytrip to Florence from our vacation rental, Lucignanello Bandini just outside San Giovanni D’asso.We decided to take the route through the countryside so we could see more of the small towns and villages along the way. I was navigating and only made one “small” wrong turn. I should have known we had gone awry when we passed through one of the ancient entry gates into the main part of Siena! We pulled into a parking area and Wally and I were rather dumbfounded to realize we were right behind the Piazza del Campo and the Torre del Mangia or Tower of Mangia. Oopsy!

IMG_0005On the bright side, I got a good shot of the tower! A lady in the parking area re-directed us out of the city and to the right road towards Florence.

IMG_9943Having braved driving into Florence the year before, we knew where a good parking area was just inside the old city gates of Porta Romana on the southern side of Florence. Its one long line of parking on a one-way lane that runs along the Fortress walls. You park and then get a ticket at the machine as you exit at the end of the lane. You then pay when you exit at the machine. Here is the Porta Romana gate – you enter and then take a hard left into the left hand corner for the parking lane entrance. Look for the big P.

IMG_0007We walked past the Basilica di Santo Spirito and crossed the St. Trinity Bridge over the Arno River, giving us a good view of the famous Ponte Vecchio or Old Bridge.

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The Piazza della Repubblica

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IMG_0055We listened to this fabulous opera style singer in the piazza for a while. She had an amazing voice! The music, the architecture, the food, the wine, the art… ahhh Italy! IMG_9957IMG_9955IMG_9952You can see them live on this little video clip below:

The Duomo, Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, is the most prominent feature in Florence. I read “Brunelleschi’s Dome” by Ross King when we returned home, and wish I had read it before we visited Florence to have more fully appreciated the efforts it took to construct the dome. I highly recommended this book!

I read “The Agony and the Ecstasy, A biographical novel of Michelangelo” by Irving Stone during our trip, and it was very enlightening about the history we were seeing – from Florence to Rome. I found both used on Amazon at a great price. I also read Dan Brown’s “Inferno” just before the trip, and it was a great read as well – action with history combined. Wally read it during the trip. It’s fun to retrace their steps through Florence and see the landmarks in person.

IMG_1488The Duomo – note the people on top of the dome!

IMG_0068We were lucky that there wasn’t a line to go through it and got to see the interior.

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IMG_9977Window shopping…

Monica wanted to see David at the Accademia Gallery, but the line was longer than we had time to wait and make our Uffizi ticket time. http://www.accademia.org/

So she settled for some souvenirs in the kiosk next to the line. There was also a good artist set up, but he left on break. So I told her we could go see the David replica on the Piazza della Signoria where the old real David used to stand on our way to the Uffizi.

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IMG_0445The Piazza della Signoria is usually crowded with people, but there weren’t so many that day. You could actually walk across the piazza! Monica got a great panorama shot of the piazza.

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IMG_0127The David replica stands where the real David once stood. They moved him to the Accademia to protect him from the elements.

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IMG_9995The girls got their picture with David…and were happy again.

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IMG_0136When you step inside the Palazzo Vecchio, town hall of Florence, the murals are amazing. This building played a prominent role in Dan Brown’s “Inferno” book. We didn’t have time to do the tour –  next time!

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IMG_0489IMG_0493IMG_0490IMG_0492Time for our Uffizi tour. We bought tickets online so we wouldn’t have to wait in line. With your internet printout, go to the building opposite the Uffizi to pick up your tickets. http://www.uffizi.org/

IMG_0134A few shots of the famous statues outside the Uffizi in niches, along with a few “live” statues posing for pictures for money. There’s also a bunch of “counterfeit” purse and souvenir sellers in many of the tourist areas that set out their wares on blankets. The police had just come through on a raid, and they had all grabbed up their blankets and ran off. The undercover police picked up the items left behind.

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This live statue was Hermes/Mercury with golden wings on his sandals – he was kind of scary…

If you are looking for a nice souvenir, be sure and check out the artists set up in the streets. Some are really, really good!

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IMG_0148Inside the Uffizi… the art is truly boggling! If you are short on time or tire easily, you should plan what you would like to see and target those galleries first.

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Botticelli’s “Primavera” – If you love art, history and Botticelli’s works, I recommend you read “The Botticelli Secret” by Marina Fiorato, a historical fiction writer. She has several other historical fictions based in Italy and is a very absorbing writer. http://www.marinafiorato.com/

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IMG_0004There is a cafe and terrace with some fabulous views over Florence. Here’s a few shots from there and from an upper floor window.

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IMG_0018IMG_0005The sun was out when we finished our Uffizi tour and it was time to find some more food and drink!

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IMG_0230IMG_0069Monica was craving some gelato and stopped off for a cup. IMG_0431IMG_0023Gelato break on the St. Trinity Bridge – we’ve come full circle from morning to afternoon.

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IMG_0465Love, love, love the chandeliers! Tharros Bijoux is a gorgeous shop that features historic-style jewelry such as pieces featured in famous Italian artworks. They are located just off the Piazza Santa Trinita. Learn more on their website at: http://www.tharrosbijoux.com/en/style/IMG_0238Happy to be in Florence…

IMG_0046Wally beelined to the market just down the way as we did a bit of shopping in Borgo Apostoli. He came out with some Limoncello and we had a sample it to make sure it was up to standards. All this shopping and art drive the poor man to drink (more).

IMG_0241Starved, we chose Le Antiche Carrozze Trattoria restaurant back on the Piazza Santa Trinita for dinner. Established in 1875, this was a great choice for us serving “typical dishes of the Tuscan cuisine or a delicious pizza baked according to the Neapolitan tradition.” It was sooo good! Sorry the pictures aren’t better, but it had been a long day! http://www.leantichecarrozze.it/en-ristorante.php

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IMG_0251IMG_0249IMG_0255In case you wondered if it was good…

IMG_0259Downstairs was a nice wine tasting room or another dining area.

IMG_0248Located between the men and women’s restaurants was this fabulous marble sink.IMG_0247Full and tired, it was time to hit the streets again and find our way back to our car across the Arno. Florence is lovely at night.

IMG_0260IMG_0262IMG_0263IMG_0264IMG_0265It started to pour down rain, so out came our rain coats and umbrellas, and we sang and splashed back across the river. We had a great day in Florence, but only saw a fraction of its wonders (and this was our second time)!

IMG_0005We’ll be back! Next up, we’re heading south to the Amalfi Coast and Positano for five nights. Stay tuned!

Categories: Travel: ITALY | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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