Saturday, June 23, 2012

Firenze, Toscano

Today I'm going to share photos from our trip to Tuscany. Naks. Just saying the word makes me feel soshal already. Me already. In Tagalog, ako na!

Tuscany is a region in central Italy. It is composed of nine provinces, the more famous of which are Florence, Pisa, Siena and Lucca. The Tuscany that I know from postcards has fields of grass and brick houses with flowery vines crawling on the sides. I do not remember seeing fields of grass there but I did see brick houses as imagined and winding cobblestone streets.

Tuscany is, in a word, lovely. Art buffs will have a grand time in Florence - considered the birthplace of the Renaissance - with its many museums and art galleries. Pisa is famous for the leaning tower but is really a place that is worth the visit independent of that landmark. And then there's Siena that sits on top of  a hill and has the most welcoming houses and intimate narrow side streets. People there are happier than the Italians in Rome, and the atmosphere is generally more laid back. We're spending an entire week next time in Siena. That's a fact.

I can't possibly cover all three regions in one post. Let's begin with Florence - the capital city of the province of Florence and of the region of Tuscany.

It took us 3 hrs. to get from Rome to Florence by (Puy's) car. The train will take you to Florence in half that time.
As in most cities in Europe, the key is to just grab a map and explore by foot.

Florence is home to many art schools and museums, among which are the  Uffizi Gallery and Galleria dell'Accademia. The Galleria dell'Accademia (shown here) houses the original David by Michelangelo. If you're wondering, I'm doing that because I'm pointing to the entrance fee: 11 Euros (PhP550) to see David. There you go.

The Internet says some of the best shopping in Italy happens in Florence. I agree, especially when you're looking for handcrafted souvenirs. While Rome has the designer outlets, Florence has artisans and streets that smell of genuine leather. I believed I may have died and went to leather heaven.  

This bag and wallet that I got in the vicinity of Piazza del Duomo are the best purchases that I made from this trip. I like the bag so much, I'm going to dedicate a separate post for it.

Florence's duomo - The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

The Cathedral's dome is a masterpiece by Giorgio Vasari. 

I found it interesting that the figures looked three-dimensional.
I honestly liked the dome of the Florence Cathedral better than the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. 

This is at Piazza della Signora where the Palazzo Vecchio - the seat of government - is located.

Many noteworthy sculptures are in Piazza della Signora, including this replica of Michelangelo's David. 
As mentioned, the original David is in the Accademia Gallery. This one, you get to see for free. Yes.

The sculpture at our back is the Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna.

Gucci opened a museum in Florence in 2011 in celebration of the brand's 90th anniversary. The museum is located on or about the Piazza della Signora. See building to our back. 

There are nostalgic bridges crossing the Arno river.

The most famous of such bridges is the Ponte Vecchio ("Old Bridge") that connects the Pallazo Vecchio with the Pallazo Pitti - once the home of the Medici family. The Ponte Vecchio is lined with jewelry (mostly gold) shops. It is easy to be tempted but I'm sure more reasonable jewelry pieces may be found elsewhere in the world, e.g. Greenhills. 

The Pallazo Pitti. This place is huuuuge and is one of the main reasons why I was so excited to visit Florence. This was built by banker Lorenzo Pitti to basically rival the Medici family's wealth. Ironically, the Medicis eventually bought the palace from the heirs of Mr. Pitti as the costs of maintaining the palace bled them dry. Life must have sucked for the Pittis.

This is how big the Pitti Palace is. I appreciate this because the Medicis are not royalty. They're regular people who made it big in business (banking and trade). I imagine them to be Italy's first mafia family. Hee But in point of fact, the Medicis produced several Popes and a couple of French queens. How cool is that.

View from an extension of the Palace.
At the back of the Pitti Palace, but still within its grounds, is the Boboli Gardens .

We had neither the time nor the energy to walk through the entire gardens.
We couldn't see where it ended. Huuuge.

Lakad break.

All that walking made me thirsty so here I am getting water out of the tap! Can you believe this? Drinking off the tap is just unthinkable in my beloved third world country. 

We took a photo of this wild pig sculpture because other tourists were rubbing its nose and throwing coins into the fountain. We eventually saw a similar sculpture in the Louvre and figured, "That pig in Florence must be important." It turns out, he is. See. What did I tell you about following the tourists?

Kain break at the Piazza della Republica. I thank Florence for letting me know what a proper panini should taste like. It should taste like this.

We ended the day with a trip to Piazzale Michaelangelo - basically a parking lot that sits on top of Florence and has another copy of David's Michaelangelo. 

The view from the Piazzale is just breathtaking.

We had pizza at this restaurant while waiting for the sunset.

The other tourists sat on the steps.

No caption required. Heehee


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