Cityscape of Florence





Italy by Bus

Day 12

Monday, June 11, 2001 - Tour of Florence, Time to Explore, Dinner at the Palazzo Borghese

Itinerary

Florence Sightseeing The Cathedral, Signoria Square, Santa Croce Basilica and Baptistery feature on our morning sightseeing tour on foot, together with a panoramic view from Piazzale Michelangelo. Later, you may wish to discover the artistic wonders in the museums or shop for leather and gold. This evening, dinner will be at our hotel. (BB D)

Optional Excursions

Medici Evening and Sumptuous Banquet in a Renaissance Palace Tonight a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach! In a sumptuous Renaissance Palace, we will be served a delicious banquet of modern Tuscan cuisine - the main course brought to us by waiters in Renaissance dress. We will be entertained with Renaissance music, dancing and songs by a troop of singers and dancers in the flowing robes of the Medici era. Wine and coffee are included with the meal and show.

Florence Sightseeing

Today we were up at 07:00AM, breakfast at 07:30AM and on our way at 08:15AM. Our first destination is the Piazzale Michelangelo, with its panoramic view of Florence. Hoping to make sure that everyone goes on this included trip, Marco told us that there would be a surprise. But, even though this was a part of the trip that was included in the tour, a few people decided to sleep in.

Piazzale Michelangelo

As we were on the bus driving up to the piazzale, Marco told us that the surprise was that we were going to have a group picture taken. He did not tell us ahead of time so that no one would get "all dressed up", because he wanted us to look the way we did throughout the tour. However, at the last minute, I think he should have told the people who stayed at the hotel what the surprise was, so that everyone would be in the picture. You can see the picture on Day 13, which is when we received them.

A bronze copy of the David by Michelangelo in the Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence, Italy A bronze copy of the David by Michelangelo in the Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence




Dominating the piazzale is a bronze copy of Michelangelo's David. There is a large parking area, and several souvenir stands and artisans. In the background of this photo you can see our Trafalgar bus.



In the photo below you can see the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), a bridge over the river with jewelers shops lining both sides. As you can see from these shots, the sky is still overcast, but we had no more rain.

A view of the Ponte Vecchio over the Arno River from the Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence, Italy A view of the Ponte Vecchio over the Arno River from the Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence


The photo below shows a typical view of Florence. I think that most pictures you see of Florence were taken from this spot. The church that is dominating this picture is the duomo, the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, Saint Mary of the Flower,

A view of the duomo and Brunelleschi's dome from the Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence, Italy A view of the duomo and Brunelleschi's dome from the Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence


There was a huge competition to build the dome on the duomo, mainly because no one knew at the time just how to go about doing it. Finally, it was designed and constructed by Filippo Brunelleschi. Later, Michelangelo borrowed from the design when he built the dome of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican city.

An interesting story concerns one of the ideas proposed as to how to erect the dome, since it would be too heavy to build it on top of a wooden framework. Someone suggested filling the space with dirt, interlaced with gold coins. That way, when it was time to remove the dirt, there would be no lack of volunteers to dig it out.

A view of the cityscape of Florence, Italy, from the Piazzale Michelangelo

A view of the cityscape of Florence from the Piazzale Michelangelo. The tower you see on the left side of the photo is from the Palazzo Signoria, (also known as the Palazzo Vecchio or Old Palace,) the seat of government in Michelangelo's time. In the middle is the Duomo, and to the right is the Church of the Holy Cross -- Santa Croce.



A view of the cityscape of Florence, Italy, from the Piazzale Michelangelo The building with the blue domes in this photo is the Synagogue.


A view of the city walls near the Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence, Italy With all of the places we have been, this was the best view that I had of old city walls.


After a little while, the bus took us back down into Florence, where Marco took us to a jewelers, and then on to a leather store, Peruzzi. After that, we had some free time before the rest of the included tour. We ended up at the Gold Corner where Karen bought a few items.

Basilica di Santa Croce

At 11:30, we met our guide in Florence, Enrico, in front of the Basilica di Santa Croce.

The Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence, Italy The Basilica di Santa Croce, Church of the Holy Cross, in Florence


Karen was wearing a sleeveless top, and could not go inside like that, so we made a quick purchase of a scarf at a nearby souvenir stand, which she wrapped around her shoulders before we went inside.

The interior of the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence, Italy The interior of the Basilica di Santa Croce


The ceiling of the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence, Italy The ceiling of the Basilica di Santa Croce
A statue in the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence, Italy

Does this statue look familiar? Yes, Auguste Bartholdi, who designed the Statue of Liberty, did come to Florence and borrowed some ideas for his statue from this one.



Below are photos of three of the tombs inside the Basilica di Santa Croce.

The tomb of Michelangelo in the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence, Italy The tomb of Michelangelo in the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence


The tomb of Machiavelli in the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence, Italy The tomb of Machiavelli
The tomb of Galileo in the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence, Italy The tomb of Galileo


Signoria Palace

From the Basilica di Santa Croce, we walked a short distance to the Piazza di Signoria and its Signoria Palace. The was the seat of the early government of Florence.

The Palazzo Signoria in Florence, Italy The Palazzo Signoria in Florence

In this photo you can see another copy of Michelangelo's David. This is the original location of the statue and where it was unveiled. Also, on the right side of the photo, under an arch of the Loggia dei Lanzi, you can see the bronze sculpture Perseus with the head of Medusa by Benvuto Cellini.



The Palazzo Signoria in Florence, Italy The Palazzo Signoria in Florence

This photo shows another view of the palace, and a portion of the piazza, with the fountain. You can see two other statues, one next to the David, and one on the left which is part of the fountain. These were both executed after Michelangelo sculpted David, and were patterned after the same style. A close examination of the three statues will show David to be a clearly superior work of art.



Silouette purported to be by Michelangelo on the Palazzo Signoria in Florence, Italy The Palazzo Signoria in Florence

In this photo you can see a silhouette chiseled into the wall of the Signoria Palace. The story is that Michelangelo was standing here talking with a friend, and chiseled this silhouette while holding the hammer and chisel behind his back, to prove that he could do it without looking.



One of the medieval streets of Florence, Italy From here, we walked through some medieval streets
toward the Duomo.
Eighth century tower in Florence, Italy This 8th century tower was once a jail.
Now it is part of one of the finest hotels in Florence,
the Hotel Brunelleschi.


The Duomo -- Santa Maria del Fiore

Because of the location of the baptistery directly in front of the Duomo, it was difficult to get a good picture of the entire facade.

The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence and Brunelleschi's Dome


The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence


The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence


The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence


The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore
The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore


The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy The fresco inside the dome of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence
You can see two of the huge piers that hold up the dome


The Campanile of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy The Campanile (bell tower) of the
Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore
The doors of the Baptistery of Saint John - the Gates of Paradise in Florence, Italy The doors of the Baptistery of Saint John
the Gates of Paradise


In the photo above on the right, you can see the famous bronze doors of the baptistery by Lorenzo Ghiberti, the doors which Michelangelo dubbed the gates of paradise, and our guide, Enrico with the microphone. These are copies of the original doors, which are in a museum now. To see photos of the original doors, go back to the home page and click on the link "Pictures of Italy in 1954".

The Baptistery of Saint John in Florence, Italy The Baptistery of Saint John


Free Time

After the tour of Florence, we had the rest of the day free until the optional excursion to the Renaissance Palace at 7:30PM. First we got some lunch at a local cafe, and then took a walk, heading toward the Ponte Vecchio. Karen was looking to buy some silk, and wanted to check out a store that we had passed on our walk the previous night.

A Stazione Mobile in the Piazza Signoria in Florence, Italy A few places in Italy I had seen these vans,
labeled Stazione Mobile -- mobile police stations.
As we came back through the Piazza Signoria, I snapped this shot.
The Library in Florence, Italy The Library in Florence


The Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy The Ponte Vecchio in Florence. The man you see carrying the Trafalgar Tours bag is a member of our group.


The clerk in the fabric store directed us to a store back over near Piazza Signoria where Karen might find some silk fabric. We walked back over there, and she bought a few yards of different colors.

The clerk at this store then directed me to a jewelers near the Duomo where I could buy a coin. We went over there and I bought a replica of a gold florin. The gold jewelry in Florence has to be 18K, by law. However, the florin was 24K so that it would be authentic.

Another traveler recently contacted me to get information about buying a florin for a friend:

I will be going to Florence for one day only as part of a Mediterranean cruise. A close friend is launching his first novel called Fortuna when I return; on the cover is a florin. I would love to be able to buy him a replica florin coin when I am in Florence. I read your report of Florence w/the lovely photos and noticed that you managed to find one in a jewelry store "near the duomo." I wondered perchance if you had the name or location of the store. I know this is a long shot but my time is so limited there that I don't want to spend the entire day looking for the florin, since it will not please my travel companions! I am thinking you may have been given a little box with the name of the store..since your site was so detailed I am wondering you have the information. I know this will be the perfect gift for my friend and I am hoping you can help me.

Unfortunately I did not have the information she was looking for, but I tried to describe the location as best I could. Here is what she had to say after her trip:

My friends and I were walking toward the duomo (it was on our right) and I glanced into a jewelry store, and voila, I spied a florin! I was all excited so I motioned to my friends and we all ooohed and ahhed. The door was locked, so we rang the bell and entered the store.
We were in typical informal tourist attire and were welcomed into the store by two very elegant people in suits. I explained that I was looking for a florin, and was directed to a special room. Another elegant person—a lady—brought me cases of florins.
All the prices were over the top so I asked if there mlght be something cheaper; then the replicas came out.
The cheapest price I could pay for the tiniest of florins was over 100 euros, so I decided to pass. My friend's book is important to me, but what would he do with a florin anyway? My friend, Marilyn, who has known my friend Mike since they were two, also nixed the deal because she thought Mike would be embarassed by the cost.
So it was a sentimental journey. I am a retired teacher and my funds are not extensive; had I more money, and used to spending lots of money on gifts, or had I won the lottery, it would be something else.
To get out of the store with my dignity intact, I asked about the hours, said I would think about it, and return on our way out of town if I decided to buy one. (I would have bought a bigger florin, but that would have been more money. The 100+ euro one was miniscule!)
We walked around the corner to via Servi and walked into the beautiful paper store Tassotti, where I purchased some lovely book plates with the duomo and cathedral on them for Mike. I think he will be pleased with them. I told him the story on the phone when I returned and he loved it; I mentioned that I got him a "little something" from Florence (and it IS a little something.) We will be getting together soon for lunch so I will present him with his souvenir from Florence.
Later on I ran into a more not-so-intimidating establishment on the Ponte Vecchio with florins in the window and the door open, so I went in and inquired about the cost "for a friend"...same price.
Oh, well. It is a good story anyway.
If you are interested in reading a good thriller, check out Fortuna by Michael R. Stevens on Amazon.com and see the cover of the book!
If you want to read more about the book, you can go to www.fortunathebook.com
Thanks for all your help in my quest for a florin in Florence~
Karen

I asked if she had any more information about the location of the shop, and here is her reply:

We arrived by train, left the station, turned right, walked a while, then turned left when we saw the duomo. I checked the map and I believe we walked down the via del bella donne, and hung a left on the via bandhi which turned into the via Cerretani. The duomo was on our right. I believe the jewelry store was on the via Cerretani in between the via Cavour and the via dei Servi. I do know we turned left on the via dei Servi after we left the store and found the paper store, where I bought the book plates. It was a short distance. I took a card from the jewelry store, but now I can't find it! GRRRR! I did find my receipt for the paper store, so I can verify that it was on the via dei Servi.

I have finally found information about the shop where I bought the coin. It is called Torrini G. S.r.l.
Gioiellieri a Firenze
Established in 1369
Piazza Duomo 10/r - 50122 Firenze
Telephone: +39.055.2302401



Looking back up toward the Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence, Italy

As we walked along the river on our way back to the hotel, I took this photo. Along the top of the hill, you can see Piazzale Michelangelo. If you look closely, among the trees sticking up near the left side of the picture, you can see Michelangelo's David. No, the Hotel Sanremo that you can see in the picture is not our hotel.



Banquet at Palazzo Borghese

The optional excursion, the Banquet in a Renaissance Palace, took place at the Palazzo Borghese.

The Palazzo Borghese in Florence, Italy
The Palazzo Borghese in Florence
This photo shows the bottom floor of the palace,
and shows how it was fortified.
The Palazzo Borghese in Florence, Italy
The Palazzo Borghese in Florence
This photo shows the upper part of the building,
revealing it as a palace. You can see the
Borghese crown at the top.


We entered the palace, and made our way upstairs, where we were greeted with a glass of champagne by these performers, some of whom would also be our servers.

The Banquet in a Renaissance Palace at the Palazzo Borghese in Florence, Italy
The Banquet in a Renaissance Palace at the Palazzo Borghese in Florence, Italy


To show off some more of the palace, we were taken through the room that the Rotary was going to use for their dinner, and then into the darkened banquet hall. Since we were the first tour group to arrive, we were given the treat of walking in to the room while it was dark, and standing there when they turned on the lights. It was quite a spectacle! Yes, from that description, you can assume that we were not the only group in the hall that evening.

The Banquet in a Renaissance Palace at the Palazzo Borghese in Florence, Italy This photo points out some of the detail of the room, with its chandelier, of Murano glass, that could crush our tour bus, and its beautiful paintings and carvings.


The lady to the left in the photo above is a tour director of another group.

Our tables were along the wall to the right of that photo. You can see Marco from behind, as well as a few members of our group, on the right side of that photo.

The Banquet in a Renaissance Palace at the Palazzo Borghese in Florence, Italy In this photo you can see our view of the entertainment from our table.
The people on the right side of this photo are part of our group.


As they did at the Tarantella show in Sorrento, the performers came into the audience and brought some people up to participate.

The Banquet in a Renaissance Palace at the Palazzo Borghese in Florence, Italy In this photo you can see a member of our group just coming into the room as part of a procession.


The Banquet in a Renaissance Palace at the Palazzo Borghese in Florence, Italy It took a few tries, but I finally got a good shot of one of the main performers.


The Banquet in a Renaissance Palace at the Palazzo Borghese in Florence, Italy In this photo you can see that she came into the audience and brought Doris out to be prepared for a role in the entertainment.


The Banquet in a Renaissance Palace at the Palazzo Borghese in Florence, Italy In this photo you can see Doris, along with a man from another tour group, as part of the entertainment.


The Banquet in a Renaissance Palace at the Palazzo Borghese in Florence, Italy




Here is Doris again as part of the entertainment.

The Banquet in a Renaissance Palace at the Palazzo Borghese in Florence, Italy This photo was taken during a more dramatic portion of the entertainment.


The Banquet in a Renaissance Palace at the Palazzo Borghese in Florence, Italy In this photo you can see Jason, a member of our group from Australia, doing a great job portraying a knight.


During all of this, of course, we had dinner, served by many of the same people who were our entertainment. Along with the wine, we had rice with cream and asparagus. Then we had dried beef with greens, pinenuts and olive oil, mozzarella and tomatoes. This was followed by ravioli with ricotta cheese and sage, and then the main meal. This was steak strips, potatoes and greens. For desert we had tiramisu and a cream base, and something with a blackberry sauce. Then we had a chocolate cup with milk and Amoretto.

The certificate from the Banquet in a Renaissance Palace at the Palazzo Borghese in Florence, Italy Then, after everything was over, we received these certificates to commemorate the evening.





Marilyn and Beth

Commentary from Marilyn and her daughter Beth about their Best of Italy tour, September 7-20, 2001, reproduced here with their permission.

Day 12, Tuesday, 18 September, 2001 - Florence Siteseeing

After breakfast (they had scrambled eggs here), we left for Signoria Square and shopping, you were on your own the whole day or until an included walking tour that started after lunch time. If you are a shopper this was the place. Many people bought leather goods and gold.
We then met the local tour guide for our included tour. Those of us that had the optional, Michelangelo's Florence ($28pp) continued on with the tour guide after the included one was done. You could skip this optional if you didn't care about seeing the original David (there are copies everywhere), but I didn't come all the way to Italy to see a copy. Again you could do this on your own, however we did get to walk right in (past the long lines).
Our tour bus then met up with us to take us back to the hotel around 4. Dinner was at the hotel.











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Contents © Copyright 2001 Author: Lee Briggs except where noted. All rights reserved.