Took the train from Milan to Florence.
Once we arrived we went to find a hotel. We had decided not to make any reservations ahead of time, trusting we would be able to find resonably priced accomodations along the way. We always had a list of recommended hotels in the area we wanted, but in Florence we had trouble finding our first choice. Then our second choice was a B&B and there was no answer. At the third place they were full (it was a small B&B with only 4 rooms), but the owner (in her broken English) said she had a friend. So she called and we waited on the curb when suddenly this older lady shows up, Lucia. Lucia didn't speak English but we still managed to communicate our desire for a room. Lucia it turns out also had a B&B, in fact she had 2. So she took us to her second location where we had the entire place to ourselves. Nice little apartment with a kitchen and patio. Turns out this was our cheapest hotel of the entire trip. Always an adventure....
Once we dropped our backpacks at our room we took off to find the Duomo and to try and get reservations to see Michaelangelo's David. It didn't take long to find the central square and the cathedral. This is the 3rd largest cathedral in the world and considered the best of all the renaissance cathedrals. Notice how crowded it was.
This is the babtistry across the square from the cathedral. The lines were so long we chose not to go into either. Also they wanted to charge for entry anyway.
But these bronze doors at the entry to the babtistry were quite beautiful and ornate. The same designs were also on the side doors but they were not bronze, just carved wood.
We walked down the street to this Republic Plaza. Originally the site of Roman crossroads, the buildings in the background were constructed here in the late 1800s to commemorate Florence being the site of Italy's capital from 1865 to 1870.
You didn't have to read Italian, you just looked at the pictures.
This building is from the 10th century and was a grainery and market. This part of the old building is now commercial stores.
Thank goodness most of the information signs were in both English and Italian.
The other side of the old grainery and market was turned into a church in the 1500s. If you wanted to pay the entry fee you could get an walking tour of the building which told where to look for the old grain chutes.
I was disappoined in Florence after having been to Milan. It was dirtier, more crowded and everyplace wanted to charge to get in. It was still fascinating and the architecture was great as well as the history. It truly was the heart of the renaissance.
The Palace Vecchio. Original home of the ruling family of Florence. Later the family moved to the Pitti Palace across the river and this became the ruling seat of government.
Everywhere around Florence were statues. Every corner, in front of every building, in the center of the plaza's, and even on the buildings themselves.
Before the statues were placed here, this was the open forum where any citizen could come and speak his mind. Remember, Italy was the home of the Roman Empire, which was the birth of democracy and our republic government.
The ornate carving on columns inside the Palace Vecchio.
Some statues weren't as solid stone as others though. This cupid would wink at you as you walked by.
The Vecchio Bridge. During WWII this bridge was supposed to be blown up as the Mussolini's troups were leaving, but they blew up every bridge across the river except this one.
The Pitti Palace. Built for the ruling family, it was the home of Florence's rulers through the 19th century. It is now a museum.
Another cathedral across the river.
Outside the Central Market
Normally the Central Market building if full of merchants and vendors, but it was under reconstruction, so most of the vendors have set up in the adjoining streets.
The original Michaelangelo's David. We thought we would have to get tickets for the next day, but the museum stays open until 10 pm, so we got tickets for the evening. I did find I'm not really an art afficiando. Most of the art I really didn't like.