Last week, my work took me to Rome and I added a day to visit the beautiful Renaissance city of Florence. The speed train from Rome took me through the beautiful scenery of Tuscany and by 8.30 a.m. I had a glorious spring day ahead to explore the scenic nucleus of history, art and a tapestry of culture and medieval architecture. Of course one day can not do justice to all there is to see and do here and I would love to return for a more leisurely visit.
From the Piazzale Michelangelo, a square with a panoramic view of Florence, I photographed breathtaking views of Florence including the iconic Duomo, a cathedral with a terracotta-tiled dome engineered by Brunelleschi and a bell tower by Giotto. The stories told by tour guides is that Florence was a very competitive space for artists. So after the dome was built by Brunelleschi, he promptly destroyed the plan and no one has been able to recreate the plans even for the purpose of reconstruction or repairs. The cathedral named in honor of Santa Maria del Fiore is a vast Gothic structure built
on the site of the 7th century church of Santa Reparata.
Take in the view of the Arno river from the south bank above and the medieval Ponte Vecchio bridge below which has been rebuilt several times due to damage from various floods. It is now also home to jewellery merchants and tradrs of souvenirs.
Tucked amidst the amazing textures and colours of vegetation are villas of the rich and famous who can best afford living with these panoramic views.
In the midst of the Piazzale Michelangelo stands a replica of Michelangelo’s “David” Join in a future post to marvel at the original sculpture of “David”
A closer look at the cathedral displays its intricate artwork carved in a marble facade. You’ll also have a closer view of the dome which has a viewing area if you are fit enough to climb over 490 stairs.
The Giotto tower stands alongside the Cathedral below.
Baptistry – Duomo: The Baptistry of San Giovanni below, one of the most ancient churches in Florence, sits opposite the city’s cathedral, the church of Santa Maria del Fiore. Octagonal in plan, it is totally clad in slabs of white Carrara and green Prato marble.
There are a number of fortresses around Florence and below is a part of one of them.
Join me in my next post at the Galleria dell’Accademia to take a look at the artwork and some of the great influences of the Medici family.
Murano is situated about 1.5 kms from Venice. En route to the island, we passed this abandoned island below. Water levels are constantly monitored to check the rise of water against the sandbanks. No doubt, islands will continue to be at risk especially in light of Climate change.
The island of Murano is renowned for its long tradition of glass-making. Ferry-loads of visitors come to explore the Museo del Vetro, which tells the story of glass through the centuries, and to shop for locally crafted souvenirs.
I fell in love with this picturesque little island with its pretty, brightly coloured houses and shops and the magnificent reflection of sky and water. Our tour guide informed us that in the old days the rule was for each house to be clearly demarcated by their individual colours in order to assist the fishermen to find their homes in foggy weather. Clearly, everyone had to stick to their colours to avoid confusion. We were rushed for time by our tour guide so I was sorry that we couldn’t linger in the pretty little cafes. The island is renowned for the craft of handmade lace so I did make sure to buy a few beautiful handmade lace products.
Museo di Torcello
Occupying two buildings across the square from the Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta, this museum is dedicated to Torcello’s bygone splendour. The main building, the 13th-century Palazzo del Consiglio, displays mainly religious art recovered from the island’s many long-lost churches. The annexe focuses on ancient archaeological treasures, many of which were recovered from the abandoned Roman city of Altinum (Altino) on the mainland. The collection includes tiny Egyptian figurines, Etruscan bronzes, Greek pottery and some lovely Roman cameos.
The Church of Santa Maria Assunta (basilica di Santa Maria Assunta) or Torcello Cathedral is a notable example of Venetian-Byzantine architecture, one of the most ancient religious edifices in the Veneto, and containing the earliest mosaics in the area of Venice.
I loved this patch of garden which seemed to share a partnership between Winter and Spring. Couples are known to come to Torcello for their wedding celebrations. There are a number of restaurants here to enjoy if you have the time. Thank you for stopping by and enjoying this trip with me.
Part of the build up to the celebrations of New year’s eve was spending time along the Grand Canal of Venice. The star attraction for many tourists is jostling for space on the Rialto bridge pictured below. It offers beautiful photo opportunities of the thriving 2.5 miles of the Grand canal.
This a great spot for choosing to travel by water bus or Gondola along the Grand Canal, stop at one of the many restaurants or simply grab a big slice of Pizza from one of the smaller outlets as you get lost in love with this beautiful city.
On the Rialto bridge, you see people gathered from all parts of the world and it was a great place to check out the Winter fashions. We stopped at one of the restaurants on the right below to enjoy a great Italian meal which by European standards was reasonably priced and the service was very efficient.
I could stare at these Venetian buildings all day. The architecture, colours and festive lights created a wonderful and romantic ambience.
If you can afford the high prices, shopping in this district is another favoured pastime.
I think that the glamour of walking through these expensive and beautifully decorated shops is entertaining in its own right. It was a new experience for us to see red escalators.
In summary, I’d say Rialto is the place to visit if you’d like to check out fashion, feel a sense of romance or just admire manmade beauty in the beautiful floating city of Venice.
Look out for my next post on our visit to some of the islands. Happy Easter to you all!!