Florence: A Tuscan Gem

Staying outside Czech Republic for another blog post this time around, don’t worry normal service will resume very soon, although we’ll be going to San Francisco for three months in less than a month, so I may have to change the name of the blog to “www.CzechingOuttheCzechRepublicandanyothercountrywehappentovisitalongtheway.wordpress.com”.

Hmmmm yeah that’s gonna be a long URL.

Anyhoodle staying in Italy for this one and venturing South of beautiful Venice to another gem, Florence. The capital of Tuscany and home to more art, pretty buildings and statues than you can shake a stick at. (Who shakes sticks at things anyway?). This was a trip I was really looking forward to, having seen some of its wonderful locations in Hannibal, the sequel to Silence of the Lambs and also having dived off its spires and scaled Il Duomo in Assassin’s Creed 2. In short, it’s way more impressive and majestic in real life.

So Florence was scheduled to be our first resting point in Italy. We were to arrive into the country by train, change at Genoa and then onwards to Florence. The train pulled into Genoa, we looked at our ticket….looked at the station name…..nope that’s not the station on the ticket…….several minutes pass. Hmmmm we’ve been at this “wrong” station for a while, oh i’m sure it will move along in a moment and tell us that the next station is the one on our ticket. Huzzah! The train doors closed and off we went, onwards to the main station in Genoa. *Voice over the intercom* “Next stop….Milan”

Ah crap! So eventually we arrived in Florence, slight two hour or so detour to Milan, followed by further three hour trip back down to our intended destination. Ah the joys of travelling and being stupid stupid tourists. We made our way to the Hotel Ariston avoiding the scenic parts that we wanted to save for later. After settling in to our hotel  and having a little rest, we decided to go for a wander down town.

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The upside of not getting off the train when you should have….more pretty scenery!
The Hotel Ariston, where our bathroom was down the corridor and the terrifying sounds were right outside our window, more on that later…
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Ah Piazza Santa Croce, our first “Ooooh shiny” moment when we left the hotel to explore. I have fond memories of sitting in front of the Basilica later in the trip drinking out of a bottle of wine and watching the world go by.
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Oof, the “That’s going to hurt in the morning” silhouette of Hercules and Nessus by Giambologna.
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Hercules and Nessus in all its manly glory. These guys had beards before they were cool.
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Another of Giambologna’s sculptures. The Rape of the Sabine Women is thankfully a rather poor translation, so The Abduction of the Sabine Women would be more apt, because of course abducting women is totally fine and socially acceptable…..
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Rawwwwwrrrrrr. One of the Medici Lions standing guard over the Loggia dei Lanzi.
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The ornate covers of the merchant shops on the Ponte Vecchio over the river Arno.
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Yippeeeeee we are mature adults, oh yeah!
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The Merry Go Round lit up the Piazza della Repubblica in a lovely warm glow.
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This dapper chap took pride of place in the hotel lobby where we enjoyed a nice glass of wine after our evening of exploration.

The next morning we were awoken by a rather disturbing noise, which can only be described as the sound of two elderly people murdering each other. We grew quite concerned that our neighbouring guests weren’t enjoying their stay as much as we were and had decided the best option was to have a mad murder frenzy, as you do. Eventually we pinpointed the sound was coming from below us, so we crept up to the window overlooking a small courtyard and peered down…….

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These two! Absolute messers the pair of them were having a great old time on a window sill below us. Get a room!

After a lovely breakfast of bread and sliced meats purchased at a nearby shop we were ready for another day. We planned to visit the rather majestic Florence Cathedral with Brunelleschi’s magnificent dome as well as the Uffizi Gallery. Not a bad way to spend a day if you ask me.

Having just read the latest National Geographic issue which featured a fascinating article on Brunelleschi’s dome, it was with a new found respect that I looked over the images and memories I have from there. It truly is a sight to behold and one of the great engineering feats of our time.

The Uffizi Gallery was another sumptuous place to see and it was fascinating to see paintings and artworks we’d only seen in art-history books previously, up close and personal. No images from there i’m afraid (Was too busy looking at the art), so you’ll just have to take my word for it and go check it out for yourself. Definitely worth the cost of entry.

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Making our way to  the cathedral.
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Il Duomo dominates the streets around it, towering over the surrounding area proudly proclaiming “I AM A MASSIVE CATHEDRAL, DON’T MESS WITH ME!!”
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Loreno Ghiberti’s beautiful bronze doors on the east side of the Florentine Baptistery, described by Michelangelo as the “Gates of Paradise”.
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Brunelleschi’s magnificent dome proudly gazes over the city of Florence.
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The view from one of the clock tower windows on the ascent to the top.
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The undulating Tuscan hills form a wonderful backdrop to this truly beautiful city.
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The money conscious traveler would be wise to shop around for a coffee outside. The rich traveler will want to head straight to Piazza Del Duomo and enjoy a lovely €7 coffee. We foolishly did the latter….oops.
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Sauron’s bedside reading light.
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Alas we were a week too late for Carnival but there were still a great deal of shops dedicated to the decorative masks.
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Alright Dave.
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A street performer takes a break from posing with tourists outside the Uffizi Gallery.
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Inside Il Duomo, the impressive painted interior of the dome is quite the sight.
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Something you don’t really see anymore, painted ceilings. They should totally bring that back in again.

Okay I think that’s enough from Florence for one blog post. Needless to say we were very impressed with this beautiful city. If you appreciate classical art and architecture your head will literally explode upon seeing Florence. Literally.

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