Above is one of the landmarks of Florence, the Ponte Vecchio Bridge.
The trip from Venice to Florence went easily. We packed and left our flat around 10, walked to the vaporetto stop at Piazza San Marco and rode to the train station.
It was a great ride, all the way up the Grand Canal. We took the ‘local’ instead of the ‘express’ so it would last longer. The train station was easy to navigate, had tasty snacks, and then we had a comfortable 2+ hour ride to Florence. Our accommodation is quite close to the train station so we walked on in to town. Central Florence is pretty small since it seems like everywhere we’ve wanted to go so far is 12 minutes walk away.
Our location is at Piazza di Madonna degli Aldobrandini, and if you ask for Madonna Square you can get here. This is one of the buildings in the square.
And this is the view out my bedroom window, a view to one of the sides of the Basilica di San Lorenzo.
I was a little punk this first day not feeling quite in-the-groove which I hope will improve tomorrow. Oh wait, I know, it came to me while typing this! Our flat has Problems and I was corresponding with the manager off and on all yesterday and today. I have done my best and I’m now going to call upon Stoicism and make the most of what is.
On our first morning we did one of those free walking tours based on giving the guide what you feel is right. The guide was fabulous, the itinerary was tops.
This is what it feels like when a group pulls off into a square. There are probably three groups in here. Fortunately most of the guides use headsets now as ours did, unfortunately some of them still carry around loudspeakers and blast out to world.
Our guide did his tour focusing on the family Medici. It was really good, totally worth the hassle. I think the story he told as we went from place to place will actually stay with me for a while and that’s saying something.
Below is a google map and a cut ‘n paste from the tour’s website to remind me. You’ll probably want to roll on by!
- The Basilica di San Lorenzo (Basilica of St Lawrence) is one of the largest churches of Florence, Italy, situated at the centre of the city’s main market district, and the burial place of all the principal members of the Medici family from Cosimo il Vecchio to Cosimo III.
- The Palazzo Medici Riccardi was designed for Cosimo de’ Medici, head of the Medici banking family, and was built between 1444 and 1484.
- Battistero di San Giovanni The Florence Baptistery, also known as the Baptistery of Saint John stands in both the Piazza del Duomo and the Piazza San Giovanni, across from Florence Cathedral and the Campanile di Giotto. The Baptistery is one of the oldest buildings in the city, constructed between 1059 and 1128 in the Florentine Romanesque style.
- Duomo Florence Cathedral, formally the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore is the cathedral of Florence (Italian: Duomo di Firenze). It was begun in 1296 in the Gothic style to a design of Arnolfo di Cambio. The cathedral complex, in Piazza del Duomo, includes the Baptistery and Giotto’s Campanile. These three buildings are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site covering the historic centre of Florence and are a major tourist attraction of Tuscany.
- Campanile di Giotto Giotto’s Campanile is adjacent to the Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore and the Baptistry of St. John. This tower is one of the showpieces of Florentine Gothic architecture with its design by Giotto, its rich sculptural decorations and its polychrome marble encrustations.
- Cupola del Brunelleschi This dome is one of the biggest mystery in art and architecture of every time. It was the largest in the world. It remains the largest brick dome ever constructed.
- Museo Casa di Dante Dante Alighieri wrote the Divine Comedy. This book is widely considered the most important poem of the Middle Ages and the greatest literary work in the Italian language.
- Piazza della Signoria is an L-shaped square in front of the Palazzo Vecchio. It is the meeting place of Florentines as well as the numerous tourists, located near Palazzo Vecchio and Piazza del Duomo and gateway to Uffizi Gallery.
- The Palazzo Vecchio (“Old Palace”) is the town hall of the city. This massive fortress-palace is among the most impressive town halls of Tuscany. Overlooking the square with its copy of Michelangelo’s David statue as well the gallery of statues in the adjacent Loggia dei Lanzi, it is one of the most significant public places in Italy, and it hosts cultural points and museums.
- The Uffizi Gallery is an art museum located adjacent to the Piazza della Signoria and it is one of the most important Italian museums and the most visited, it is also one of the largest and best known in the world and holds a collection of priceless works, particularly from the period of the Italian Renaissance. The building of Uffizi complex was begun by Giorgio Vasari in 1560 for Cosimo I de’ Medici so as to accommodate the offices of the Florentine magistrates, hence the name uffizi, “offices”.
After the tour we went for lunch at a place recommended by one of Windy’s friends as her absolute favorite place in Florence. It was perfect in style, atmosphere, and food. It was so perfect we declared it Windy’s Birthday Lunch!
Shared Menu: fresh linguini and local in season porcini so delicious Windy pronounced it the best thing she had ever put in her mouth, a shrimp curry dish which the waiter told us was the sauce for which they were most famous, and a half-carafe of house red. The shrimp curry was ok but it came with a very large crock of chutney so delicious I ate half of it myself.
Here’s one little piece of street art outside the restaurant. I’m hopeful for more!
And here’s the full view of the Ponte Vecchio Bridge from up the (crossword puzzle) Arno river.