Trip to Florence, 17th-24th June 2009

This blog post is not for the faint-hearted… prepare for an essay.

My mother and I stayed in a B&B next to the Piazza del Duomo (Square of the Cathedral), with rather nice views out of the window.

One of the niftiest pieces of architecture in Florence is the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge). A while ago, the wealthy Medici family lived in Florence, and they were sort of art collectors. Anyway, when they moved house to a big palace, they had to cross this Old Bridge every day, and were disgusted by the smells from the butchers and tanners located on the bridge. They had all the smelly shops replaced with gold and jewellery shops, and the tradition is still upheld today.

Florence is dotted with posh little sweet shops. This one pictured is called Gilli, on the Piazza della Repubblica.

In the Galleria Accademia in Florence, there can be seen Michelangelo’s famous statue, David (of the Bible story, David & Goliath).

We are told that no other sculptor would touch this piece of marble because of striations and weaknesses in the stone, and were scared it would be destroyed by one slip of the hand. So Michelangelo arrogantly stepped up to the Medici family’s commission.

Also in the Galleria Accademia are four unfinished statues by Michelangelo. He died before completing them, but these are very valuable to us now, as we can see the process he used to carve his statues.

The Police men and women in Florence wore funny hats.

Here are some more curiosities that I saw in the streets near to where I was staying (central Florence).

On my mother’s Birthday, we went to two gardens.

In the morning we went to the Giardino di Simplici, which the Medici family used as a medicine garden.

In the Giardino di Simplici, there were many interesting flowers and plants.

There were oranges, lemons, quince and peppers growing on trees of various sizes.

In the centre of the garden was a pretty fountain.

There were also lots of Jasmine bushes. Jasmine is my new favourite smell.

After going to the garden, we went to a small cafe which had cute vintage pictures/adverts on the walls.

In the afternoon, we went to the Giardino di Boboli.

There were some interesting statues, but there was a lot of steep uphill and downhill walking to be done in the garden. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I might.

One good thing about this garden was its beautiful view over Florence and the hills of Tuscany.

In the Museum of the Cathedral in Florence, there is one of Michelangelo’s statues, the Pietá. He created this sculpture, giving the upper figure his own facial features. However, in one of his fits of rage, Michelangelo took a sledgehammer to the statue. Afterwards, he gave it to a friend who had Michelangelo’s apprentice fix it the best he could.

The church of Santa Croce was the most beautiful church I saw when in Florence. It is mentioned in A Room With A View by E. M. Forster. This original fresco was mentioned in the novel by Mr Emerson, who, upon looking at it, said that there was no way that fat bloke could float up to heaven.

Also in Santa Croce are:

Dante’s tomb.

Michelangelo’s tomb.

Some beautiful art.

One day, we went on a day trip to Siena, San Gimignano and Pisa.

Siena had a large square (actually circular) called Il Campo, small winding lanes, and sloping roads.

The cathedral of Siena has a beautiful ‘night sky’ ceiling, and stunning frescoes.

Close to the centre of Siena is the church of San Domenico, which contains Saint Catherine of Siena’s skull and thumb, both of which are tiny!

We ate lunch on a wine/organic farm, Fattoria Poggio Alloro.

Afterwards, we went to San Gimignano which has medieval towers and walls intact. However, when I was there it rained a lot, and I wasn’t able to go out of my shelter to see the town very much at all. Although I did see this man with an orange plastic bag on his head, using the handle as an eye-slot.

In the afternoon, we went to Pisa. We only went briefly to the Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles), where the Baptistry, Cathedral, and (leaning) Belltower of Pisa are located. I wasn’t overly impressed with the leaning tower, to be honest.

The day before we left Florence, we went to St Gemma’s sanctuary in Lucca. Gemma is the Saint I was named after, so this was very special for me.

Afterwards, we went to the central part of Lucca and had a wander.

There was the church of San Michele.

The Piazza Anfiteatro (Ampitheatre Square).

And a cute bakery.

The final part of the day was spent in a small village in the hills, called Montecatini Alto. The village below, Montecatini Terme, has a famous natural spa, but the higher village appealed to me more.

And that was, more or less, my holiday.

I hope you enjoyed reading about it.

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