After a day of travel, this particular day was devoted to taking in the sights of the city of Florence (Firenze). Florence, the capital of Tuscany, is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, and is well known for its art and architecture. The city has an important place in the history of Italy. This was the land of the famous Medici Family in the middle ages.
This was a view of the Arno river early in the morning near our hotel.We were taken on a bus from our hotel to the Accademia Gallery, where the primary attraction is Michelangelo’s statue of David.The lines to enter the gallery were long but things were moving since it was still early in the morning.The statue of David is indeed stunning in its setting, and it gets your attention from many different locations in the gallery.Michelangelo was also a anatomist. He understood the muscle and bone structure of a human being very well and was a master at recreating this in his work.The other interesting room was the collection of sculptures made by students at the Academy in the past as a part of their studies. These were not necessarily meant for public viewing.The holes in the sculptures were meant to be peg-points so that anybody making a copy could get the correct proportions for the piece they were sculpting.
After we were done with the academy we walked down to The Dome of Florence Cathedral. You could see the bell tower in the distance as we approached the piazza where the church is located. The church is huge. In fact it is so big and is in such a location that I found it impossible to capture the entire building in a single picture.The Piazza del Duomo where the church is locatedalso includes the Florence Baptistry and the bell tower for the church called Giotto’s campanile. The architecture of this huge church is amazing. The dome of the cathedral dominates the city’s skyline and is a symbol of Florence. It is massive and an amazing piece of engineering whose architecture and construction is still discussed by the experts. Nobody had built a dome of that size at that time. It is actually a double dome (designed this way to try to lighten the weight) and the inner one is apparently 5 to 7 feet thick and is considered safe in spite of cracks which you can see from the ground.After the visit to the cathedral we walked the narrow streets to the Piazza della Signoria.Two landmarks of Florence that are around this plaza are the Palazzo Vecchio and the Loggia dei Lanzi. The plaza also includes a water fountain with a massive statue of Neptune. This was the end of the morning tour.
We then walked on our own down to the Ponte Vecchio, a bridge over the the Arno river. The bridge has high-end jewelry stores on both sides of the walkway. While others indulged in shopping we took the views of the Arno river from the bridge and got an opportunity to take pictures of the bridge itself and the buildings on the river bank.The passage-way on the left of the panoramic pictures was part of the Vasari Corridor built between two palaces in the middle ages.
After lunch it was time to visit the Uffizi (it is to the left of the dark brown building in the pictures above). Folks in Italy say that the Uffizi is to Florence what the Louvre is to Paris. It is something that you should not miss if you go to the city. (This was all news to me since I am not a real connoisseur of art.) It is a massive gallery and it would take a few days to go though it diligently. Our tour guide just walked us through a few of the rooms. Here are some of the sights (click through to see individual pictures).
After the tour we headed for the Piazza di Santa Croce. This is the location of the Basilica of Santa Croce.Frorence is known for its leather work. Alessandro had set up a tour of a leather shop for us. We learned how to identify real leather!We hung out in the plaza for a short while.After this stop, the others in our group decided to take a taxi back to the hotel while the two of us decided to take a walk along the Arno to our hotel. The sun was beginning to set. We got to our hotel room without any issues. It was time to relax for a short while. There was more fun being planned for that evening as a part of the tour, a subject for the next blog in this series.