Our next stop was Livorno, the port used for trips into Florence, Pisa, Tuscany, or the Cinque Terre. Due to transportation logistics, we again decided to do a ship’s excursion. This time we did the “Florence on Your Own” tour. Basically, it was transportation to Florence and back, with free time in the middle to do whatever you wanted. We decided to skip Pisa as we had been told by several people that there wasn’t a whole lot to look at, other than the tower, and that the time was better spent in Florence.
Upon arrival, the “guide” walked us to our designated meeting point, told us what time to be back, and then let us go for the day.
View across the Arno River from our original drop off location:
Prior to leaving Florida, I booked tickets online to see Michelangelo’s statue of David at the Galleria dell’Accademia. Visitors are not allowed to take pictures inside the Accademia. However, this is a picture of a copy placed where the original David once stood, in front of the Palazzo Vecchio.
After the Accademia, we stopped for a mid-morning snack of gelato. Let me just say that I love gelato. I’ve had it before. But, it’s especially good when you’re all hot and sweaty from a long day of walking around seeing the sites. From there, we walked to the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, more commonly known as Il Duomo.
Visitors can go inside the Duomo and can even climb to the top of the dome. (If you look close, you can see the people at the top in the pictures.) The dome, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, was an architectural marvel for its time. If you are interested, this is a good article describing how it was designed/built. http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2014/02/il-duomo/mueller-text
We chose not to go in the Duomo or climb to the top of the dome. We wanted to explore Florence further and didn’t think we would have time to do much else if we waited in line to enter.
We walked to the Orsanmichele Church for a peek inside. The building that houses the Church was originally a market and granary.
Outside, built into the Church’s walls, are numerous niches. Each niche contains a statue representing a major guild of the time. This one (a copy) is Saint George, commissioned by the armourer and swordsmith guild. The original, sculpted in 1417 by Donatello, is on display in the Bargello, a sculpture museum (also) in Florence.
From there, we walked to the Piazza della Signoria, the historical hub for politics in Florence. Around the Piazza are the Palazzo Vecchio, the Uffizi Gallery and Museum, the Loggia della Signoria, and the Fountain of Neptune.
The Loggia, once a place for public debate, is now the home of an open air sculpture gallery. Most notable are the Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna.
And, Perseus with the Head of Medusa, by Benvenuto Cellini.
Other statues include the Rape of Polissena, by Pio Fedi.
Menelaus supporting the body of Patroclus
And, this lion, by Vacca.
From the Piazza, we walked down to the Arno River to get a view of the Ponte Vecchio. The Ponte Vecchio was, until 1218, the only bridge across the Arno River in Florence. And, during World War II, it was the only bridge across the Arno River that the retreating Germans did not destroy. At one time, it housed butchers and tanners. Currently, it’s home to mainly jewelers.
We continued walking towards the Piazza Santa Croce. This is the view away from town from the Ponte Alle Grazie.
Nice row of homes across the River:
The Piazza Santa Croce was our meeting point for the end of the tour. It is also home to the Basilica of Santa Croce. The Santa Croce church was originally built in the 13th-14th centuries. The façade was added in the 19th century, paid for by a wealthy English benefactor.
The interior has beautiful stained glass windows.
And, is the burial site of several famous artists, scientists, and politicians.
To the left of the chapel, you exit into the cloisters.
And, the Pazzi Chapel.
At that point, it was almost time to meet up with the group. So, Jerry grabbed a quick bite to eat and we did a little bit of shopping before meeting up with everyone else and headed back to Livorno for dinner (and more time in the hot tubs).
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