Monday, 24 August 2015

Tuscany Part 5......

Another day, another place to visit - Firenze (Florence) the capital of Tuscany.

Florence is famous for its history: a centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of the time, it is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, and has been called "the Athens of the Middle Ages".  A turbulent political history includes periods of rule by the powerful Medici family, and numerous religious and republican revolutions. From 1865 to 1871 the city was the capital of the recently established Kingdom of Italy.  

We had a ten minute walk from where our coach dropped us off through streets lined with fascinating architecture,

 shame about the 'Irish Pub' sign outside this next building!
Our fist stop was the Basilica di Santa Croce, where we met our guide for a short tour of the city centre.

The Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross) is the principal Franciscan church in Florence, and a minor basilica of the Roman Catholic Church. It is situated on the Piazza di Santa Croce, about 800 metres south-east of the Duomo. The site, when first chosen, was in marshland outside the city walls. It is the burial place of some of the most illustrious Italians, such as Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Foscolo, Gentile and Rossini, thus it is known also as the Temple of the Italian Glories (Tempio dell'Itale Glorie).

Continuing the tour we passed the Duomo, the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore ("Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower") the main church of Florence.

Begun in 1296 in the Gothic style to the design of Arnolfo di Cambio and completed structurally in 1436 with the dome engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi. The exterior of the basilica is faced with polychrome marble panels in various shades of green and pink bordered by white and has an elaborate 19th-century Gothic Revival fa├žade by Emilio De Fabris.

Our tour ended in the square at the entrance to the Medici Palace.

The House of Medici was an Italian banking family, political dynasty and later royal house that first began to gather prominence under Cosimo de' Medici in the Republic of Florence during the late 14th century. 
The family originated in the Mugello region of the Tuscan countryside, gradually rising until they were able to fund the Medici Bank. The bank was the largest in Europe during the 15th century, seeing the Medici gain political power in Florence — though officially they remained citizens rather than monarchs.
The Medici Palace overlooks the square where its copy of Michelangelo's David statue as well the gallery of statues in the adjacent Loggia dei Lanzi stand, it is one of the most significant public places in Italy, and it host cultural points and museums.

We stopped for a quick lunch before venturing into the Medici Palace, through it's magnificent courtyard,
only to be even more amazed and thrilled by the interior with it's beautifully decorated ceilings,

majestic staircases,

amazing artwork,

apartments and chapel of Eleonora,

 fabulous furniture,

 artefacts, like the Putto with Dophin by Andrea del Verrocchio.

One can only marvel at the huge doorways,

the audience chamber,
 the carved doors depicting Dante,
the windows,

the incredible Hall of Geographical Maps or Wardrobe is where the Medici Grand Dukes kept their precious belongings. The cabinets and carved ceiling are by Dionigi Nigetti.

The doors of the cabinets were decorated with 53 remarkable maps of scientific interest, oil paintings by the Dominican monk Fra Ignazio Danti (1563–1575), brother of the sculptor Vincenzo Danti, and Stefano Buonsignori (1575–1584). They are of great historical interest and give a good idea of the geographical knowledge in the 16th century.

Those are just a few of the sights you will see if you ever get the chance to visit this magnificent place for yourself, not to mention the view over Florence from one of the palace balconies.
Unfortunately it was time to leave beautiful Florence for the journey back to our hotel, but we had another day of sightseeing to look forward to.   I hope you'll join me for the final day of our tour,  Part 6 when we visit Sienna.


Winifred said...

Thanks for this. Some great information and your photos are lovely. What a wonderful place. I've never been to Florence, one of the places still to visit on my list.

Look forward to reading about Sienna next.

Akelamalu said...

Glad you enjoyed it Winnifred. x

Flowerpot said...

I went to Tuscany about 25 years ago and we didn't see the sun once - this looks much better!

Akelamalu said...

Oh what a shame Flowerpot! We were very lucky with the weather. Xx

Beach Bum said...

Totally awesome! I can't imagine how it felt to walk through that city. There is a travel writer here in the States by the name of Rick Steves and one of his television episodes covered Florence. You hit a lot of the same sights he covered.

Valerie said...

I am pleased you enjoyed Florence, Pearl. So much to see there. We were there during an extraordinarily hot week. I was glad to get under cover - out of the sun.

Valerie said...

Forgot to say thanks for including some views I hadn't got... grins.

Akelamalu said...

I love old cities with load of history Beach and Florence certainly hit that spot!

I loved Florence Valerie, we were really lucky with the weather, not too hot just right for sightseeing. :)