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.
We took a group picture here.
My husband and I pose in front of the famous view of Florence.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
We crossed the Ponte Vecchio, also known as the Old Bridge, known for where gold merchants sold jewelry.
On the bridge there was a bust of Benvenuto Cellini, a goldsmith, musician, sculptor, and soldier from Florence.
View of the Ponte Vecchio as it spans the River Arno.
Keeping up with our guide meant taking pictures as we walk along of the wonderful row of arches.
We had lunch in a wonderful Italian Restaurant.
Marco and Krissi, our guides.
Pisa is the next stop. There we will view the Leaning Tower of Pisa, a huge tourist destination.
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.
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.