Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Negotiating the final switchback road to the campsite in Florence, we drove right past the Piazelle Michelangelo, high on a hill on the south side of town, and caught an awesome glimpse of late afternoon Florence. The campsite was actually on the very same hillside about half a mile away - sloping sites to the max! We parked the little RV (felt like we needed to lean it against a tree, the site was so steep) and promptly took off for a bit of rubber-necking, hot-footing it back up to the Piazelle. Well worth the effort it was too - a spectacular preview of the morrows hike and yet another chance to admire tea-towels, aprons, tee-shirts and the like, all gawdily adorned with local scenes, at the dozen or so vending stands. Hot dogs were also available at just $10.00 each and could be enjoyed with a nice glass of wine, if one was so inclined.
In the middle of the Piazelle there is a bronze replica of Michael Angelo's
David statue, bemusedly gazing down on the midst of what has developed into a large, if somewhat gentile parking lot, filled with coaches, crocodiles of Japanese tourists smiling and bowing at everything and parties of chattering school kids engrossed in school kid things. The view? Spectacular!
The cityscape is dominated by the huge Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore with it's attendant bell tower followed by the second largest attraction in town
, the Palazzo Vecchio (otherwise known as the Town Hall), which is to it's left from this viewpoint. The river Arne (same river as in Pisa) runs through town and the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), recognizable by the shops built across it, is one of four or five bridges spanning it. Large sections of the city wall can be seen as well as features such as the Boboli Gardens, the National Library and numerous other churches and palaces dotted around. A hazy back drop was provided by the foothills of the Appenine mountain range.
By 7:00 am next morning, we were inside the city gate heading for the tourist spots before they filled with vendors.
Along the way we witnessed a bookshop delivery - not a delivery to a bookshop but the delivery of a book shop. The entire stocked kiosk was winched down from a van, wheeled into place and quickly unfolded to start business for the day. So began our tour of Florence.

Bobili Gardens and part of the city wall
Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) toward sunset

Same bridge next morning - pretty durable eh?

Santa Maria del Fiore facade. The detail on this building is
outstanding as the next half dozen or so snaps try to convey

Detail of large window and the dozen figures
Main door and central mosaic

Detail of central mosaic
Side mosaic
The other side mosaic - exciting, isn't it?
Detail of a few of the figures
The Catheral Dome undergoing maintenance
The door with my handy scaling device

A detail of the bronze door

The Baptistery - sadly in need of maintenance

Giotti's Bell Tower adjacent to the Cathedral

Pallazo Vechio, in the large L shaped Piazza della Signoria
square, is the civil and municipal center
of Florence serving as the Town Hall

The Piazza della Signoria, like an outdoor museum,
is graced by numerous exhibits such as the Neptune
grouping shown here

Here is Neptune himself, frozen in mid-streak
Another copy of Michael Angelo's David along with other
classical sculptures stand alongside the building

The Loggia dei Lanzi, an open sided building populated
by numerous statues, faces into the square

Possibly some of the most expensive retail space in the
world, the buildings across the Ponte Vecchio house
exclusive jewelry, clothing and other artsy-fartsy emporia

Not to be left out, Florence also has its
ration of impossibly narrow streets

Similat to pre-Katrina New Orleans, the ground floor
of many residences have been given over to
housing automobiles rather than people. Parking
is otherwise difficult to come by.

Italy qualifies as the land of the scooter. With the climate making
their year round use feasible, the price of gasoline and the
paucity of parking, it is little wonder that these
ferocious little beasts are so popular. In the cities,
pedestrians have to "caveat scooter" as they flit in
and out of stationary traffic to be first in line at
the start of the next "Race" when the light goes green.
On the open road, the underpowered ones are usually seen
leading a lengthy procession of frustrated motorists, while
the more macho machines roar along the white line in the
middle of the road skillfully dodging traffic in both directions.
Considerable parking is space allocated to these little terrors,
presumably encouraging their use.

No comments: