Mediterranean Sea – Florence and Pisa

Florence is the city where so much happened in its history. It was the most important center in Europe for some 250 years, from 1300 to 1550 AD. According to Wikipedia, Florence, currently, is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area.  

This day, we were going to explore Florence and take a short trip to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower. Because there was so much to cover in one short day, we were up early and left at 7:30 AM.  Our new guide, Marco, would be our guide throughout all the cities we visit in Italy.

The bus ride from ship to the Florence overlook is 1-½ hours. We drove to the Viale dei Colli to the amazing terrace of Piazzale Michelangelo where there is an overview of the city of Florence and a wonderful vantage point for a view of the Duomo of Florence as seen below.

Duomo of Florence, Santa Maria del Fiore
Duomo of Florence, Santa Maria del Fiore

We took a group picture here.

Our Group Assembled at Piazzale Michelangelo
Our Group Assembled at Piazzale Michelangelo

My husband and I pose in front of the famous view of Florence.

My husband and I pose in front of the Florence Overlook
My husband and I pose in front of the Florence Overlook

Once we had arrived in downtown Florence we left the bus for a walking tour. Our guide took us to the Piazza Della Signoria or Signoria Square. The square, where public tournaments and feasts took place between 1400 and 1500, was transformed into a outdoor museum in the sixteenth century by the addition of statues, such as the one of Cosimo Medici shown below.

The bronze equestrian statue of Great Duke Cosimo I, Cosimo Medici.
The bronze equestrian statue of Great Duke Cosimo I, Cosimo Medici.

Marco shared historical information with us as we followed him around. His orange flag could be seen from afar which helped us keep him in our sights.

Our Guide, Marco with the Orange Flag
Our Guide, Marco with the Orange Flag

We took a tour of the Santa Maria del Fiore Church which is renowned for the Duomo or Dome. Because it can be seen from great distances, the dome became not just the city’s symbol, but also a symbol for the renaissance culture. The frescos in the dome were by Vasari and were completed in 1570 AD.

Santa Maria del Fiore Church Interior
Santa Maria del Fiore Church Interior  The painter had the ingenious idea to paint the men as if they are coming out of the window.

One of the most interesting frescoes seen in the church were the depictions of men who look like they are stepping out of the frame.

Paintings in the Duomo of the Church
Paintings in the Duomo of the Church

Outside we continued our walk and we stopped to admire the Florence Cathedral with its intricate design made with three types of marble (3 different colors, also).

Florence Cathedral
Florence Cathedral

In the same Piazza were the famous Bronze Baptistry Doors.  The Baptistry is renowned for its three sets of artistically important bronze doors with relief sculptures. The  doors were done by Andrea Pisano and Lorenzo Ghiberti.

Bronze Baptistry Doors
Bronze Baptistry Doors

We crossed the Ponte Vecchio, also known as the Old Bridge,  known for where gold merchants sold jewelry.

Gold Shops on the Ponte Vecchio
Gold Shops on the Ponte Vecchio

On the bridge there was a bust of Benvenuto Cellini, a goldsmith, musician, sculptor, and soldier from Florence.

Statue of Benvenuto Cellini on the Ponte Vecchio
Statue of Benvenuto Cellini on the Ponte Vecchio

View of the Ponte Vecchio as it spans the River Arno.

Ponte Vecchio or Old Bridge
Ponte Vecchio or Old Bridge

Keeping up with our guide meant taking pictures as we walk along of the wonderful row of arches.

Arches of Florence
Arches of Florence

 

We had lunch in a wonderful Italian Restaurant.

Our Group Outside Lunch Spot
Our Group Outside Lunch Spot

Marco and Krissi, our guides.

Marco and Krissi, Our Guides
Marco and Krissi, Our Guides

Pisa is the next stop. There we will view the Leaning Tower of Pisa, a huge tourist destination.

Leaning Tower of Pisa
One man’s daring attempt to hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa

The tower is the campanile, or freestanding bell tower, of the cathedral of the Italian city of Pisa, which leans to one side. It is located behind the Cathedral and the Baptistry.

Baptistry and Cathedral at Pisa
Baptistry and Cathedral at Pisa

Our guide told us that the tower began to lean during construction, caused by an inadequate foundation on ground too soft on one side to properly support the structure’s weight. The tilt increased in the decades before the structure was completed, and gradually increased until the structure was stabilized by efforts in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Next up: Rome, Italy.

4 Replies to “Mediterranean Sea – Florence and Pisa”

  1. Phyllis,
    I so enjoyed your blog on Florence. Very edifying. I knew a lot of this at one point but must have forgotten it all. Thanks so much for sharing with me. Love your pics.
    Sky

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