Thursday, November 03, 2011

Tuscany: The Florence Walking Tour

Tuscany is a region in Italy that is renowned for its art, history and evocative landscape. You may have heard of famous Tuscan cities such as Florence, Siena and Pisa.

Florence is the place to visit to appreciate Renaissance, a movement of the 15th century that centered on artistic and cultural reawakening. During that period of time, Florence was at the cultural and intellectual heart of Europe. In those days, some of the world's greatest Renaissance works were created by artists, sculptors and architects who moved to Florence.

From Venice, the tour-group headed to Florence by bus. One of our first stops in Florence was Piazza Michelangelo.

Piazza Michelangelo
Panorama view of Florence from Piazza Michelangelo.
This is the photo stop to head for. I was told that this spot offers a magnificent panorama of the city of Florence. According to DK Eyewitness Travel: Italy, when the sun sets over the river Arno and distant Tuscan hills, this place offers one of the most evocative views.

There is a copy of the statue of David at Piazza Michelangelo. It was not impressively sculpted, yet it seemed to earn a fair amount of attention from the visitors to Piazza Michelangelo.

Ponte Vecchio
This is a Medieval stone segmental arch bridge over the Arno River in Florence. It is the oldest surviving bridge in the city of Floence. Built in 1345, Ponte Vecchio was desgined by Taddeo Gaddi.

Ponte Vecchio over River Arno, on the left of the photo.
Piazza Signoria
The heart of Florence's political and social life, the great bell of Piazza Signoria had once used to summon citizens to public meetings. The statues in the piazza commemorate Florence's major historical events.

There is a copy of David, the famous sculpture by Michelangelo, sitting at the Piazza Signoria. I learnt that David was commissioned by Florence for Piazza Signoria. However, it was subsequently moved to the Galleria dell'Accademia for safe-keeping in 1873.

Visitors ought to take a good look at Palazzo Vecchio, The Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna and Perseus by Cellini. These are said to be star features of Piazza Signoria.

On the right: The Rape of the Sabine Women. By Giambologna.

Santa Maria del Fiore, the richly decorated Duomo, is Florence's most famous cathedral. "Duomo" is a generic Italian term for a cathedral church. This cathedral is Europe's fourth largest church and is the tallest building in Florence.

I have learnt from an introductory class to Western architecture that Santa Maria del Fiore's dome is Gothic in outline and is influenced by (Italian) Gothic architecture. The dome's design is engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi. It was founded upon a double shell design whereby the outer shell is supported by a thicket inner shell that acts as a platform for the former. I was told that the top of the dome, i.e. the lantern, not only offers spectacular views of the Florence city, it also serves to structurally disperse the weight of the dome. The weight of the lantern hence prevents the dome from springing apart.

I had wanted to join the queue that was to go up to the top of the dome of the Duomo. However, after much considerations, I did not do so due to long queue, the fact that I had to meet the rest of the tour-group by a specified time.

Gate of Paradise
At the Baptistry of the Duomo, visitors ought to make time to admire Lorenzo Ghiberti's famous bronze Baptistry doors. The panels of the doors are often regarded as the first works of the Renaissance. To the east, the doors have been called by Michelangelo as "Gates of Paradise". These doors depict scenes from the Old Testaments.

The original ten relief panels showing scriptural subjects are now exhibited in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. The panels at the Baptistry are copies.

Piazza Duomo, 17 - 50122 Florence
Tel and Fax: +39(055)215380

Florentine Steak Dinner with wine
In the evening, our guide led us to a quiet alley in the city of Florence for a sumptuous Florentine steak dinner with wine at Oseria dei Baroncelli.

I read that the versatile Sangiovese grape dominates wine making in Central Italy. The finest red wines are made in the hills of southeasten Tuscany. Notable red wine includes Brunello di Montalcino and Sassicaia. Yet, I am sorry to share that I have no clue what red wine I had drank that evening. I only knew that the red wine went well with the rest of the dinner.

Street art.
I read that getting around Florence is pretty easy as it has an excellent bus system. Travelling by foot is one of the best ways to navigate about Florence. Florence somehow gave me good vibes. It is likely that I shall visit Florence again.

River Arno.

DK Eyewitness Travel: Italy. (2011)


Doreen said...

Thanks for sharing. I will be there next month! I hope winter there will be balmy and kind.

oceanskies79 said...

Doreen: Enjoy Italy! :)