Saturday, 26 April 2014

First Day in Florence - a Lookback to April 2013

It was around a year ago that we arrived in Florence by train, for a few days exploring this most beautiful city, the flower of Renaissance Tuscany.

We arrived in the dark and walked narrow streets to find our hotel in the Piazza de Santa Maria Novella.
The following morning, we walked between high houses, through medieval city lanes, towards the great city church of Il Duomo.

Relieved of the care of our ponies at home, it was still second nature to find one eating breakfast from his nosebag........

....and two more in elaborate Renaissance tomb paintings inside Il Duomo. These show the development of equine art, of perspective and the three dimensional feeling of movement in the lower painting. It almost looked as though the horse was turning its head and body, ready to step out of the picture.

These are not brilliant photographs, but are a record of the inside of Brunelleschi`s amazing and innovative Dome which was completed in 1436.  The inside painted frescoes are by Vasari, who wrote The Lives of the Artists and who also designed the Medici`s private corridor above the Ponto Vecchio.

In the crypt below Il Duomo, is the final resting place of Brunelleschi.

Outside, is Giotto`s  tall bell tower, the Campanile.

In the Piazza del Duomo, the sun reflected on the hand crafted marble tiles, in greens, reds and white,  that form the fine outer carapace of the church.

Street artists in the Piazza. We watched this grey haired lady`s portrait skillfully taking shape into a very good likeness.

Details of carvings on the Baptistry doors. 

The Baptistry

.....and more carriage horses, enjoying hay while they waited for business.

We made our way to San Lorenzo, the Renaissance family chapel of the Medici`s, who were the ruling family of Florence for centuries.

The green, peaceful cloisters with geometric pathways and an orange tree.

The unfinished facade of San Lorenzo. The fine interior was designed by Brunelleschi.

Along the lanes around San Lorenzo are the market stalls and the central market of Florence. A feast of colour and always thronged with people, tourists and locals alike.

From our hotel bedroom, we truly had "A Room With A View", across the Piazza to the beautiful Gothic church of Santa Maria Novella.

In the afternoon, we crossed the Piazza to the church and entered through the old monastic buildings and gardens. This church is the one that made me want to stay. A smaller, quieter building but filled with works of art to wonder at. Built by the Dominican Order between 1279 and 1357, Santa Maria Novella is one of the oldest and finest churches in Florence.

The Campanile of Santa Maria Novella.

We headed into the centre of Florence again, walking past the Baptistry and the magnificent tiled front of Il Duomo.

Through narrow streets again until we reached a quiet piazza and the Spedale degli Innocenti , the old Foundling Hospital, where unwanted babies could be brought to be cared for in past centuries.

The poignant story of this Admissions Window is below. The spaces between the bars were just small enough to pass a new born infant through, onto a soft cushion inside.

We walked on, through the streets around the Art School and the Botanic gardens. Turning back towards the centre, we passed modern sculpture........

....the Campanile towering over the streets below........

......through the Piazza della Signoria and past the Palazzo Vecchio.....

....past Roman statues......

and a reproduction of Michelangelo`s David, where the original ( now in the Accademia) once stood.

Weary now, we found our way down to the River Arno..... the Ponto Vecchio, the oldest bridge in Florence. Built in 1345, it still houses the goldsmiths and jewellers of the city and has Vasari`s Corridor stretching above the workshops. The Corridor, lined with paintings, was a private walkway for the Medici family as they travelled between the Uffizzi Palace on one side of the River, to the Pitti Palace on the opposite hillside. It is still not open to the public.

We stood on the Ponto Vecchio and watched the sun sink behind Tuscan hills. Swallows and swifts swooped low over the water and the sun set on a memorable, wonderful day.


angryparsnip said...

Wonderful photos !
I loved your photo tour ! Brought back some lovely memories.
I have a similar photo of the fifth photo from the bottom.
What a lovely city.

cheers, parsnip

helen tilston said...

Your images and experience in Florence I greatly appreciated seeing today. You brought back to me fond memories of this beautiful city.

Wishing you a joyful weekend

Bovey Belle said...

So many memories, still fresh in my mind, but given fresh rein by your lovely photos. We were too early for the Swallows and Swifts, sadly. You saw some bits we didn't get to as well, so those were a nice surprise. WHAT a beautiful city it is.

Em Parkinson said...

I have such happy memories of Florence in the early 1980's. Why do I need to go back when I have this post?

Ragged Robin said...

A really lovely and enjoyable post with so many great photos :) I've never been to Florence so its such a joy to see it through your eyes (and lens :) ) Thanks so much.

Jayne Hill said...

How glorious, I shall come back and savour this post. I don't particularly subscribe to the "bucket list" thing but Florence is one of the few places on my 'I'd like to one day' list.

And nice to see the horses looked well cared for :}

SeagullSuzie said...

What a beautiful place to visit. Your photos are great and the buildings are amazing. Your hotel room had a marvelous view. How sad to have to part with a baby like that.

Rowan said...

Florence is a wonderful city isn't it? My daughter and I had a fabulous week there a few years ago. Never got inside Il Duomo though -the queues were too long!

Wendy said...

A lovely look of Florence. I visited it briefly (twice) when travelling in 1980s but I never really saw enough of it. There's so much fascinating history there.
The sight of the small Admissions Window is quite moving, there must have been so many sad stories that took place here.

WOL said...

Oh, that brought back memories. I can't think of the Ponti Vecchio without thinking of "O, mio babbino caro" the famous aria from Puccini's Opera, "Gianni Schichi" where the heroine threatens to jump off the Ponti Vecchio bridge into the Arno if her father doesn't let her marry her love.

Down by the sea said...

That looks like a fantastic place to visit. Those buildings look amazing! Sarah x

Weekend-Windup said...

Wonderful pictures in your tour!

Isabelle said...

It's definitely on our list. Beautiful!

Crafty Green Poet said...

Beautiful photos! I'd love to visit Florence

Mum said...

Thank you so much for the tour.
Love from Mum

The Weaver of Grass said...

This is one of my favourite cities in the whole world. I have been many times over the years but the last time I went everything in the centre of the city seemed to be covered in scaffolding. Rather disappointing. We used to always stay in the same little hotel quite a way out but with a beautiful walk into the city centre along the banks of the Arno. I never tired of it.