Tuscany's Renaissance City of Florence

Ponte Vecchio reflecting in the river Arno in Florence.

Around 10 in the morning, we arrived in Florence, an hour and a half after leaving the port of Livorno. The drive through the Tuscan countryside was simply breathtaking - beautiful rolling rolls, dotted with Italian Cypress trees - the epitome of the Tuscan landscape. Florence lies in a basin on the River Arno, at the foot of the Apennine Mountains. This mountain range runs nearly the whole length of Italy from Liguria (in the North) to Calabria (in the South). 

Landscape of Florence on a cloudy day with river Arno in the foreground.
Cloudy landscape of Florence
Ponte alle Grazie over the Arno river in Florence on a cloudy day.
Ponte alle Grazie

A close up view of Ponte alle Grazie with a street light to the left.

You can even see the typical Tuscan landscape from the city of Florence. We walked along the river Arno to the Piazza di Santa Croce. Below you can see the Basilica di Santa Croce that dominates the square. Santa Croce means Holy Cross, and it is the largest Franciscan church built in the Middle Ages. 

Piazza di Santa Croce is one of the largest and most famous squares of central Florence. On the south side of the plaza lies the Palazzo dell'Antella, a long building with a facade decorated with incredible (and mostly faded) frescos by Giovanni da San Giovanni. Restaurants and shops selling leather goods and gold jewelry are on the ground floor of this medieval structure. We were invited into one of the shops to see some artists at work. First, we saw a little about jewellery making. Then, my favourite part, the making of a leather cover for a book. The process of embellishing with gold leaf by stamping on the cover was fascinating. 

Basilica of Santa Croce and street lights in the piazza in Florence.
Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence
Sunlight shining on buildings on the Piazza di Santa Croce.
Piazza di Santa Croce
View of a building with green shutters though a tall archway in Florence.
Green shutters
View of  Badia Fiorentina - Monastero tower in Florence
Badia Fiorentina - Monastero
View of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore dome in Florence.
View of the dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
Entry to the National Central Library of Florence building.
Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale
Sunlight shining on the buildings on a narrow street in Florence.
Sunlight on the streets of Florence

Door and window detail of the San Firenze Complex in Florence.

Then it was time for the walking tour around the city. Every nook and cranny is jam-packed with renaissance, baroque and gothic architecture. We saw sights such as the Complesso di San Firenze - an International Centre of Performing Arts and Badia Fiorentina-Monastero - an abbey, church, and the oldest monastery in Florence.  Next, we visited Palazzo Vecchio, Florence's town hall, overlooking the Piazza della Signoria. There was a lot of construction and renovation work going on in the city at the time, but we managed to see the interior courtyard at the entrance to this old palace. 

We also wandered through Piazzale degli Uffizi. The Uffizi Gallery is world-renowned for its collections of old masterpieces since the time of Leonardo. We admired some of the sculptures and sheltered from the rain for a while. Thankfully we did not have too much rainfall on our visit. I took a lot of photographs and could easily do a second installment. It was hard to narrow down the selection for this post as it is. 

Entrance to the San Firenze Complex in Florence.
The San Firenze Complex
View of a tall archway connecting two buildings in Florence.
Tall archway
Looking up at the exterior of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.
Palazzo Vecchio
Archways inside the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.
Inside the Palazzo Vecchio

Looking up at the arches in the courtyard of the Palazzio Vecchio.

Details of the building exterior on Via dei Gondi in Florence.
Via dei Gondi

Looking up at the exterior of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.

Views from the inside of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
The Uffizi Gallery
Sculpture of Hercules and Cacus outside the entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.
Sculpture of Hercules and Cacus 

Our last few stops were Ponte Vecchio and the Florence Cathedral before we took a break for some lunch and gelato. We walked across this historic and famous medieval stone bridge and gazed at all the jewellery shops and traditional goldsmiths. The Cathedral, Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, or the Duomo Cathedral of Florence, Duomo di Firenze, is the fourth largest church in the world. The facade is so intricate and covered with white, green and pink marble. 

For lunch, we ate Tuscan white bean soup with different types of pasta - Pici all'Aglione and Pappardelle in wild boar ragu. Everything was delicious, though eating both soup and pasta was quite a lot! The meals looked small, but they were rich and filling. We had a great time in Florence, and I hope I will have the opportunity to visit the Tuscan countryside properly in the future. We left the city before 4 in the afternoon to head back to the Port of Livorno, one of the largest seaports in the Mediterranean Sea. 

Reflection of Ponte Veccio in the river Arno.
Ponte Vecchio Relfection
A close up of Ponte Vecchio taken along the embankment of the river Arno.
Ponte Vecchio
View of Ponte Vecchio with the embankment and a street light post to the right.
View of Ponte Vecchio
View of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
Details of the Florence Cathedral exterior.
Florence Cathedral
Scaffolding under the dome of the Florence Cathedral.
Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore
Views surrounding the Ponte alle Grazie in Florence.
Ponte alle Grazie over the river Arno
View of the Ponte Santa Trinita over the Arno River in Florence.
Ponte Santa Trinita

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