During our visit to Florence we also visited Uffizi Gallery and the Academia to see famous works by Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raffaello and others. Unfortunately no pictures were allowed so I can not share my experience with you. Both museums are a must see to your visit to Florence.
We also spent time on this often photographed bridge Ponte Vecchio. The bridge which dates back to 972 has been destroyed in the past by floods but now serves a shopping district for jewelry.
On our last day of florence we visited the Boboli Gardens located behind the Pitti Palace. The peaceful gardens were a nice break from the busy and bustling tourist districts.
The gardens house many historic and contemporary artworks.
Turtles holding up the obelisk?
Fountain of Neptune
Casino del Cavaliere(Porcelain Museum)
Views from the garden
Lemon trees at Isolotto’s Basin
Man’s best friend.
Some contemporary art
Grotticina di Vulcano grotto of Vulcan)
The Dwarf Morgante by Valerio Cigoli
The gardens are another must see on your visit to Florence. As you can see, there is so much to do in Florence. Please don’t cut your visit short and rush through it in a day or two. To fully enjoy all that Florence has to offer, I would stay at least 3-4 days.
For our second day in Florence we visited the Palazzo Vecchio
We started the day visiting the Cathedral Museum in Florence. It has a good collection of renaissance sculpture. We were able to view many pieces by famous artists. Below are pictures of some interesting works of art.
Michelangelo – Pietà
reliefs of Luca della Robbia (1400-1482) – original marble
After as stop at the museum we went nearby to visit the Palazzo Vecchio
. This palace/fortress had many uses throughout the years. Now it is available to tourists as a museum and a government building to the people Florence.
On the way to the Palazzo Vecchio we took a stop at the Piazza della Signoria to see Bartolommeo Bandinelli’s Hercules and Cacus
We also came across Benvenuto Cellini’s statue Perseus With the Head of Medusa
First noticeable is the famous tower of the palace.
Inside there are many interesting ceiling patterns.
Artwork inside the Hall of Lilies.
Hall of Maps
More interesting ceiling decor.
Artwork from the Sala dell’Udienza
Sala de la Audiencia de Francesco Salviati
Salone dei Cinquecento
View from the terrace.
There are many museums to see in Florence but these should remain in the must see.
Upon my two prior visits I have always wanted to visit Florence. When I took humanities in college, many of the great works I learned about resided in Florence. It was the center of Renaissance and the beneficiary of many wealthy and talent residents in its past.
We stayed at the Il Ghiro Guest House. It was centrally located and not far from the train station. It wasn’t fancy but it was clean and we had a private bathroom. It only got a bit noisy at times but that is what to expect from hostels. The highlight of our evenings was coming back to our hostel and seeing “gypsies” that we had seen begging earlier in the day with sad eyes. In the evening they had beers and were all smiles.
We started our first day climbing the 414 steps of the campanile (or bell tower) of Florence’s famous Duomo.
From the top we had great views of the Duomo and Baptistry.
Look down the middle….
Also below we saw a parade go by.
And how can I forget these great views of the city.
After the bell tower we wandered around town a bit and stop to look at some statues.
Fountain of Neptune
We happened upon a flag fight.
The best part of the day is when we were there the same time as the Florence Wine Event. We decided to take part.
Carlos demonstrating the proper way to carry around your wine glass. Why don’t they have these bags at wine events in the USA?
And as the day comes to a close we head back to our hostel for a good nights sleep. Ciao!
During my Tuscan adventure we took a day trip to the small town of Montalcino and the Abbey of Sant’Antimo. It is an easy day trip from the town of Cortona where we rented a house.
Our trip to Montalcino was so short that I don’t remember much about it. What I do remember is the meal I had there. I can’t exact remember the name of the place we ate but I can tell you it was amazing. It was a meat dish cooked in Brunello wine. I have never had anything quite like it since.
Abbey of Sant’Antimo
As part of the day trip we stopped at the Abbey of Sant’ Antimo. This romanesque church was once home to benedictine monks. If you are lucky you can catch the monks today singing Gregorian chants.
Look at these olives. Yum! I wish I could just pick them off the tree.
After this easy day trip we returned back to our villa and made a home cooked Italian meal using fresh ingredients. I sure miss the villa.
A short trip by train from Florence (1.5 hours) gets you to the university town of Pisa, Italy. The historic Italian town is famous for its leaning tower. It proved a great day trip from Florence.
The stairs are worn from usage.
Shadow of the tower
Halfway through the climb
Pisa Baptistry of St. John
Love the river cities
Great mountain views
Romulus and Remus fed by a wolf
Tuscany has it share of quaint towns and cities. Two of them are San Gimignano and Siena.
San Gimignano is known for all its towers. The town is full of towers making a landscape you won’t see anywhere else. Unfortunately the day we visited was a rainy day but we were still able to enjoy some lovely views.
Siena is another great Tuscan town with great architecture. We only wandered around for a day but I wish we would have spent a day or two exploring this town and taking in its culture.
In the history of Siena, the town was broken down in districts or contradas
. I believe that we walked by this one which I think used to be Oca (Goose).
During my last trip to Italy I was able to spend a few wonderful days in Tuscany. I shared a villa in Foiano della Chiana near Cortona with some girlfriends (and Carlos). We were required to rent a car to get from town to town to explore. We had to get one of the larger cars with trunk space due to the the requirements to hold luggage for 4 women (and 1 guy’s backpack). It proved challenging at first to try to maneuver the car around the roads but we soon got the hang of it. We made sure that enough of us got international driving permits so the driving was distributed among us and not one taking the brunt work of driving everywhere.
Trying to find our villa was very difficult. The directions were vague, and in kilometers (we are not used to the metric system). After a detour down a bumpy dirt road through someone’s farm (my friend swears we were supposed to turn down that road) we eventually find our villa. I wish I had taken more pictures, it really was a great and relaxing villa to return to after sightseeing all day.
Our first night this happens.
This guy is staying with us as well.
The villa contained 3 bedrooms and 2 full baths and a full working kitchen that we used a few nights to make our own dinners. The weather was perfect for open windows and outdoor dining. Out by the resort style pool was a magnificent view and rows of rosemary and lavender bushes in bloom. It really was blissful lounging by the pool, hearing the sounds of bees and nature in the background, and smelling lavender and rosemary while you are reading a book. I can’t think of too many better things in life….except maybe food. Food is kind of great too. I would say my only complaint was the washer that took took 2 hours to wash clothes. I didn’t mind hanging them to dry (I prefer more environmentally friendly) except we did have rain one day and all our wet clothes got more wet.
Exploring near by town of Cortona was fun.
One of the day trips we took was to Chiusi. Chuisi has some of the best Etruscan tombs. Unfortunately I did not take any photos but I do have video that I will hopefully upload one day. During our visit to the city center we got to witness a day of games from the bell tower.
National Archaeological Museum