Saturday, October 25, 2014

Our first afternoon in Florence...

We arrived back in Florence, dropped off our rental car and headed to our hostel.  Unfortunately Steven wasn't with us, as the hostel was full, however, we hung out for as long as possible in the meantime together.  This is the view from the hostel window - a view of the Florence Cathedral.

We waited in the hostel resting for the other to arrive.  Jay, Kelly and xx.  Once they had all arrive and we had had suitable amounts of cups of tea and cookies provied by the hostel, we set out to explore..

The River Arno, which cuts through the old part of the city, is as much a character in Florentine history as many of the people who lived there. Historically, the locals have had a love-hate relationship with the Arno – which alternated between nourishing the city with commerce, and destroying it by flood.

This is just out the door from our hostel.

We wandered down to the Ponte Vecchio... Built very close to the Roman crossing, the Old Bridge was until 1218 the only bridge across the Arno in Florence. The current bridge was rebuilt after a flood in 1345. During World War II it was the only bridge across the Arno that the fleeing Germans did not destroy. Instead they blocked access by demolishing the medieval buildings on each side. On November 4, 1966, the bridge miraculously withstood the tremendous weight of water and silt when the Arno once again burst its banks.

We then headed to the Piazza della Signoria to check out all the amazing artworks and buildings surrounding. First up is Bartolomeo Bandinelli's Hercules and Cacus.

Benvenuto Cellini's statue Perseus With the Head of Medusa.

The subject matter of the work is the mythological story of Perseus beheading Medusa, a hideous woman-faced Gorgon whose hair was turned to snakes and anyone that looked at her was turned to stone. Perseus stands naked except for a sash and winged sandals, triumphant on top of the body of Medusa with her snakey head in his raised hand. The body of Medusa spews blood from her severed neck. The bronze sculpture and Medusa’s head turns men to stone and is appropriately surrounded by three huge marble statues of men: Hercules, David and later Neptune. Cellini breathed new life into the piazza visitor through his new use of bronze in Perseus and the head of Medusa and the motifs he used to respond to the previous sculpture in the piazza.

The sculpture is thought to be the first statue since classical times where the base included figurative sculpture forming an integral part of the work.

A reproduction of Michelangelo's David...

The Fountain of Neptune is a fountain in Florence, Italy, situated on the Piazza della Signoria (Signoria square), in front of the Palazzo Vecchio. The fountain was commissioned in 1565 and is the work of the sculptor Bartolomeo Ammannati.


The Palazzo Pitti (Italian pronunciation: [paˈlattso ˈpitti]), in English sometimes called the Pitti Palace, is a vast mainly Renaissance palace in Florence, Italy. It is situated on the south side of the River Arno, a short distance from the Ponte Vecchio. The core of the present palazzo dates from 1458 and was originally the town residence of Luca Pitti, an ambitious Florentine banker.

The palace was bought by the Medici family in 1549 and became the chief residence of the ruling families of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. It grew as a great treasure house as later generations amassed paintings, plates, jewelry and luxurious possessions.

In the late 18th century, the palazzo was used as a power base by Napoleon, and later served for a brief period as the principal royal palace of the newly united Italy. The palace and its contents were donated to the Italian people by King Victor Emmanuel III in 1919.

The palazzo is now the largest museum complex in Florence. The principal palazzo block, often in a building of this design known as the corps de logis, is 32,000 square metres.  Unfortunately it was closed when we were there, so I could only take photos of the exterior.

We ate at a restaurant that we had to queue up for, apparently the best in Florence, so while everyone queue up, I took some photos of the surrounding area, which was very beautiful...

And here we all are - the famous five, plus the photographer (me), not shown!

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