Florence / Firenze

Leaving Rome was a tough choice after such a short visit but we wanted to see more of Italy. We took the high speed train in the late morning and arrived in the afternoon to a blustery day in Firenze. Our hotel, the B4 Astoria, is an eclectic and beautiful building with rooms dating back to the 15th Century. Outside our suite we had a stellar view of the Duomo. We all loved Firenze!

A room with a view!

Dinner – Pizza and Pasta

After settling in we went to look for some food and found this little restaurant next door, Ristorante Pizzeria Lorenzo de’ Medici. The pizza, the pasta and the wine were all fabulous.

Personal Pan Pizzas


Pasta with a smokey cheese and pancetta
The wine was 4.40E and the beer was 1.09E – Total package in Canadian $13.29

To keep our budget on track we purchased wine and beer at the local carrefour express. You may notice that the beer is getting to be as big as the wine bottle!

The Duomo

Arnolfo di Cambio is responsible for the creation of the third largest church in the world following St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London. The church is 153 metres long, 90 metres wide, and 90 metres high from the floor to the bottom of the lantern. The church was dedicated to Santa Maria del Fiore, the Virgin of the Flower, in 1412, with an allusion to the lily, the symbol of the city of Florence.

Many churches in Firenze have a similar appearance but none as grand as the Duomo
Under renovation the church is still magnificent to behold
Campanile di Giotto (The bell tower by Giotto)
It was raining and cold when I took this photo…..
The ornate detail is exquisite
The view from our hotel terrace
Hannah and the Duomo
It was a cool day but well worth it!

The streets of Florence

The streets all look the same
Christmas decorations being set up

Ponte Vecchio (source)

Built very close to the Roman crossing, the Ponte Vecchio, or Old Bridge, was the only bridge across the Arno in Florence until 1218. The current bridge was rebuilt after a flood in 1345. During the Second World War it was the only bridge across the Arno that the fleeing Germans did not destroy. Instead they blocked access by demolishing the medieval buildings on each side. On November 4, 1966, the bridge miraculously withstood the tremendous weight of water and silt when the Arno once again burst its banks.

In front of the Ponte Vecchio
Walking across the bridge. The polizia follow close behind as some shenanigans are going on
The Ponte Vecchio
Ponte Vecchio from the Uffizi Gallery

The Uffizi Gallery (source)

Firenze art, beautiful buildings and history. One of the most famous galleries, the Uffizi, is an absolute must to visit. Construction started in 1560 by Cosimo I de’ Medici, the first Grand Duke of Tuscany, to house the administrative and judiciary offices of Firenze.  (“uffizi” in Italian means “offices”). The Medici family held control over most of Italy for close to three centuries and acquired massive art collections. The last of the Medici family, Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici, bequeathed the collection to the Tuscan state in 1743 provided it stayed in Florence. The Uffizi Gallery as a museum was born.

We chose to buy the tickets at the Museum to save the absurd online booking fees from various third party vendors. It meant waiting in line for about forty minutes but was worth it. Our visit was about four hours long – not enough for Colleen, Hannah or I but three hours and 50 minutes too long for Ben.  Emma unfortunately was sick and opted out.

Here are some of the works of art that we saw:

Adoration of the Magi, 1423, Gentile Da Fabrino
One of only 20 copies, the head of Aristotle dates back to 2nd Century AD. The original is a bronze statue by Lysippus in 330BC.
Duke and Duchess of Urbino, 1472, by Piero Della Francesca
The Holy Family with the Infant St. John the Baptist known as the Doni Tondo, 1507, Michelangelo Buonarroti
Dinner with Lute Player, 1620, Gerrit van Honthorst – The man on the right is being seen by a Cavadenti (Dentist)

Piazzale Michelangelo

Our last day of exploring we went for a long walk along the Fiume Arno and detoured up the hills to the Piazzale Michelango. Florence was the capital of Italy when the plaza was built in the 1870s. It has a breath taking panorama of the city and is close to Forte di Belvedere.

Florence has many hills – the wall is part of the Forte di Belevedere
Colleen and Hannah at the Plazzale Michelangelo
Hannah at the Piazzale Michelangelo
A bronze casting of David at the Plazzale Michelangelo paying homage to the great artist. Not to be confused with the David at the Plaza del Vecchio or the original at the Galleria dell’Accademia – or the one we saw in Montevideo, Uruguay
Beautiful view of the Florentine landscape from the Piazzale Michelangelo

San Miniato al Monte (source)

St. Minias on the Mountain is a basilica standing atop one of the highest points in the city. Built in 1018, it will be a thousand years old next month, or as Hannah points out it is 999 years and 11 months old. We loved this church, the inside is under renovation but we were able to go inside and walk around (link)  and it was breath taking.

St. Minas, an Armenian prince serving in the Roman army under Emperor Decius and was denounced as a Christian after becoming a hermit. Thrown to beasts in the Amphitheatre by order of the Emperor where a panther refused to devour him. Beheaded in the presence of the Emperor, he is alleged to have picked up his head, crossed the Arno and walked up the hill of Mons Fiorentinus to his hermitage.

San Miniato al Monte – The huge gilded copper eagle above it, placed on top of the pediment, is a symbol of the Arte di Calimala, which administered the wealth of the Benedictine convent from 1288.
A 13th century mosaic of Jesus Christ in benediction between the Madonna and St. Miniato
Cemetery behind the church houses many well known Florentine peoples including Lorenzini (known as “il Collodi”) who created Pinocchio

We finished the afternoon walk with lunch at a little restaurant. The food was awesome. Hannah and I had pasta and Colleen opted for lampredotto, a typical tuscan dish made with tripe cooked in a broth. It is not for the feint of heart!  Back at the hotel everyone was back to normal and ready for the next adventure.

Next Stop – Venice!

We spent five days in Firenze largely to give time for a flu-bug to go through everyone except Hannah. We could have stayed longer but all of us wanted to see Venice.

On the train to Venice
Off to Venice

2 Replies to “Florence / Firenze”

  1. Firenze is a great city. So much to see and not enough time. I had tartar and the best glass of wine just off that bridge and to the right in a wine shop. It was a wine and cheese tasting event. The owner came down with a plate of incredible cheese and almost threw it at us saying eat the cheese now so you don’t ruin the taste of the wine!

    Great pics! Keep it comming!

    How was the wine?

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