Florence

Firenze



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Without a doubt, Florence is the cultural centre of Italy, with more artworks and sculptures than they know what to do with. The Italian Renaissance began here, and Florence has moved from city state to one-time capital of Italy to the tourist hotspot that it is today.

We visited Florence on a day trip from Rome in 2013, which was only about an hour and a half by high speed train, however still not nearly enough time to soak up the city ambience. Without having time to actually enter any of the museums or galleries, Florence caters for this by being an open-air gallery in itself, and we managed to get around many of the exterior sights at least.


Florence Cathedral

The Cathedral of Florence, also known as Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, is the grand centrepiece to the city, rising prominently above the surrounding streets. Like most medieval cathedrals, it took well over one hundred years to complete, and is notable for its dome, the largest of its type at the time.



Here you can see the green and pink colours of the marble facade, it looks almost good enough to eat.

Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore


Giotto's Bell Tower

Giotto's Campanile, the bell tower, stands entirely separate from the rest of the cathedral, and rises almost as high as the crown on top of the dome. It was completed around the same time as the cathedral itself, and was originally designed to have a spire on top.



Inside, Florence Cathedral is much more understated, but with nice natural light. There is a twenty-four hour clock, similar to one I saw in Sibenik, Croatia.

Inside Florence Cathedral


Florentine street

A crowded Florentine street, although the tourist season was tailing off as it was mid-October, there were still large queues to be dodget around.



The Mercato Nuovo, a small outdoor market selling leather jackets, hats and scarves (not leather). I did however pick up a new leather passport holder.

Mercato Nuovo


Porcellino

Outside the Mercato Nuovo grunts Porcellino, the boar representative of Florence. If you place a coin in his chops and give his snout a rub, you are sure to return to Florence. I also chanced upon one of his many copies in Sydney.



An archway to L'Antico Centro, as inscribed along the top. Presumably this was a way into the old city, back in days of yore. Or perhaps a shopping gallery like Milan's Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

L'Antico Centro


Palazzo Vecchio

The tower of the Palazzo Vecchio, the town house of Florence which sits on Piazza della Signoria. It used to be the seat of local government, and is now a museum.



Outside Palazzo Vecchio stands a replica of Michelangelo's David, one of the most famous statues in the world, in all his un-fig-leafed glory. The original once stood here over five hundred years ago, but was moved to the Accademia Gallery nearby.

Michelangelo's David


Loggia dei Lanzi

Also on Piazza della Signoria is the Loggia dei Lanzi, another of Florence's open-air expositions of sculpture. No need to wait in a queue here!



Perseus holds up the head of Medusa the gorgon, inside Loggia dei Lanzi. He defeated the snake-haired gorgon whose gaze turns men to stone, by using his shield as a mirror, having travelled to her lair with the aid of his winged sandals.

Perseus and Medusa


Hercules and Cacus

Also outside the Palazzo Vecchio is the sculpture of Hercules and Cacus, the muscle-bound figure of Hercules denoting physical strength in contrast to David's spiritual strength.



Another shot of the Palazzo Vecchio tower, from the narrow street that runs through the Uffizi Gallery.

Palazzo Vecchio tower and Uffizi


Donatello

Many statues of famous Italians line the walls of the Uffizi. I have chosen to show Donatello, as I believe he's the only Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle that I haven't yet mentioned in my web pages.



The Ponte Vecchio is another of Florence's prime attractions, one of very few remaining bridges in the world to still be lined with shops and houses, as London Bridge once was.

Ponte Vecchio


On the Ponte Vecchio

On the Ponte Vecchio looking up the River Arno. The Ponte Vecchio was built in the 14th century in its current form, making it several hundred years older than the similar Pulteney Bridge in Bath.



Modern tradition has it that if you lock yours and your partner's initials on to the bridge, you shall have everlasting love.

Padlocks on the Ponte Vecchio


Looking back to the Cathedral

Looking back towards the cathedral from the Ponte Vecchio. Originally the shops were occupied by butchers, now they are jewellers and goldsmiths.



The Ponte Vecchio and the River Arno on a peaceful October morning.

Ponte Vecchio


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Copyright © Ross Wattie 2014