Italy, day seven: 14/06/17

It’s been another hot day today, quite hazy and more humid than other days we’ve had. So what better day to climb the 400 steps up to the top of the Duomo, followed by the 400 steps up to the top of the cathedral’s campanile? 

It was worth it for the views of Florence. We’ve spent all of today around the Duomo area, including a visit to the baptistery, followed by the museum Opera dell Duomo. I’m spoilt for choice for pictures today, but I’ve chosen a view of the Palazzo Vecchio from the campanile, followed by a detail from the ceiling of the Baptistry.  This was our last day in Florence: tomorrow we’re off to Bologna. 


Italy, day six: 13/06/17

Today was given over to the Uffizzi gallery. It’s two floors contain almost 100 rooms filled with paintings, mostly from the Italian renaissance. It gets really busy, so I’m glad we booked in advance and got there early. 

Rather than try and see everything, we deliberately chose to focus on about 20 classic paintings. I guess that’s what most people did, but it’s better to do that, rather than try and see everything. 

Today’s photograph is from the ultimate rennaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci.  Here’s his Annunciation. I’m not a religious man, but there’s certainly something awe inspiring about this painting. 

Italy, day five: 12/06/17

Another busy day. This morning we walked up to the charming church of San Miniato al Monte. It’s situated in the hills and has great views over the city. 

This afternoon we took the bus to the hill town of Fiesole. Much quieter than Florence, it has some Roman ruins, including an amphitheatre from the first century BC. Todays photographs are of the Duomo in Florence, photographed from San Miniato, and Fiesole’s amphitheatre. 

Italy, day four: 11/06/17

Another sunny day in Florence, with temperatures reaching 37 degrees. It’s enough to melt your gelati!
Today we visited the Palazzo Vecchio, once home of the Medici family before they moved to the Pitti Palace. There was a large group of re-enactors dressed in eighteenth century clothing. They were there to re-enact the meeting of Grand Duke Ferdinand of Tuscany with Napoleon in 1796. Later in the day we saw another group of re-enactors, but this time in late medieval clobber. I just hope they didn’t meet up with the Napoleonic lot: I’ve got visions of both groups fighting a running battle in the Streets of Florence, over who’s patch it is. They’re a savage bunch those re-enactment societies.
In the afternoon we visited the Academia, which houses lots of fine paintings and sculptures, plus a great little musical instrument museum. The main highlight of the Academia is the truly stupendous statue of David by Michaelangelo. Undoubtedly a classic.

Florence isn’t all about high culture: we also spotted the Old Florence Dixie Band playing in a square. They were playing that old Florentine renaissance classic tune, When the Saints go Marching in! And very good they were too.

Italy, Day Three: 10/6/17

We were up early today to see some of the sights of Florence before the weather got too hot and the crowds too busy.  The main visit of the day was to the Bargello, a museum dedicated to Sculpture and 3D arts. Before the Bargello, we took a steady walk from our apartment across the Ponte Vecchio, and into the Piazza della Signoria. Florence is full of these magnificent squares, usually in front of a church or a Palazzo. The Palazzo della Signoria is interesting because of the number of sculptures it contains. Today I’m posting two pictures. The first is Benvenuto Cellini’s Perseus with the Head of Medusa. This statue is one of the classics of Renaissance art, the photograph doesn’t do justice to it’s appearance in the flesh. 

We’ve seen dozens of sculptures today, and the one thing that links many of them together is how they were created to symbolise the power of the people that commissioned them. The Medici family were pre-eminent in Florence during the sixteenth century, and most of the scultures in the Piazza Della Signoria were created for them. Today’s other picture is an equestrian statue of Cosimo I, Grand Duke of Tuscany. 

Italy, day 2: 9/6/17

It’s been a red hot scorching day in Florence, and the sights come thick and fast. There’s so much to see and do, which makes choosing pictures difficult. Today I’m posting two photographs. This morning we went to the central food market to buy tonight’s dinner. Such a riot of colour and almost too much to choose from. 

This afternoon we went to the Brancacci Chapel in the Carmelite church in Oltarno. The church dates back nearly 800 years, but much of the interior was ‘modernised’ in the eighteenth century, following a fire. The  Brancacci Chapel was one of the only parts to remain untouched. It had some amazing early fifteenth century frescoes showing scenes from the life of St Peter. Although St Peter lived in the first century AD, the characters are dressed in fifteenth century clothing. The seated dark haired man in the centre of the photograph really stood out for me. Who was he? Why’s he looking in the opposite direction to everyone else? It’s an amazing and powerful picture. 

Italy, Day One: 8/6/17

We started the day in pouring rain at 3:45 this morning for our drive to Manchester Airport. We ended the day in bright sunshine and thirty two degrees of heat in Florence. Full of craft beer and pizza we strolled back to our apartment, via Piazza Del Carmine. Today’s photograph is of the dome of the church of Santo Spirito. 

The Duomo, Florence

The Duomo in Florence, viewed from the Piazza del Carmine