June 04, 2011

Renaissance Florence

Venezia, May 2010 - We were in Venice on Trafalgar's Contrasts of Europe train tour through England, France and Italy. And now we were headed to the rail station for our morning journey to that Renaissance jewel, Florence.

It was a short trip from Venice, and too early for check-in, so we dropped off our bags at the Boscolo Astoria  before embarking on a city orientation tour. After returning to the hotel, we ventured out in search of lunch. We didn't walk far before we found the Trattoria La Madia and settled into a sidewalk table with a couple of fellow Canadians from our group. The sun wasn't shining, but at least it wasn't raining. And I enjoyed the tagliatelle with crab and lemon. This restaurant would also be the site for our group dinner that evening.



Trattoria La Madia, Florence


Most members of our group had booked the afternoon optional tour of the Accademia (34 euros), home of Michelangelo's statue of David. But we had pre-booked tickets with Viator to both the Accademia and Uffizi for our second day in Florence.





The Accademia was a totally unremarkable building, with only a small plaque on the wall to identify it. To look at the exterior you would never guess that it was home to one of the greatest sculptures of the Renaissance period. The only thing to give it away was the long line of visitors waiting patiently to enter.

Instead we walked down the street to the city's most famous landmark, the Duomo, Santa Maria del Fiore.



Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence

We circled the huge cathedral, and then stopped to admire the copies of Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise, the bronze panels on the doors of the Baptistery. The originals are housed in the Museo dell' Opera del Duomo.


Baptistery Doors

 The Baptistery, Florence

We rejoined the group for the walking tour to Signoria Square, the original site of David and where a copy now stands.


Statue of David in Signoria Square

Florence Street Performer

Next we made our way to the church of Santa Croce, where Michelangelo and Galileo are buried.


Michelangelo's Tomb

Galileo's Tomb

Our guide pointed out the watermarks from the 1966 flood which devastated the city when the River Arno overflowed its banks.


Cloister of Santa Croce, Florence

Later the bus took us across the Arno River to Piazzale Michelangelo on a hill above Florence for magnificent views of the city.


The Duomo, Florence
Ponte Vecchio, Florence

Another copy of David stands here overlooking Florence.


Statue of David, Piazzale Michelangelo

Then we returned to the hotel to settle into our rooms. The Boscolo Astoria, housed in two Baroque palazzos, had an impressive main staircase in the lobby, and an interesting maze of hallways which made finding our room a challenge.


Boscolo Astoria Main Staircase

Mural, Boscolo Astoria

For dinner, we returned to Trattoria La Madia. This time we dined indoors, on pasta, salad, roasted beef and potatoes (a common theme for group dinners while on tour.) Following the meal, we joined the evening passeggiata to window shop around the Duomo before returning to the hotel.

Our first day in Florence had introduced us to the city's Renaissance treasures. Our second day would take us into Tuscany and the city of Pisa.


Next:  Dinner in Tuscany


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