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.
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
Here you can see the green and pink colours of the marble facade, it looks almost good enough to eat.
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
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.
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
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
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
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.
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.
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.
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
Bridge once was.
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
Modern tradition has it that if you lock yours and your partner's initials on to the bridge, you shall
have everlasting love.
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.