“Florence is one of those cities that most of us want to experience at least once (but most likely hundreds of times)!” – unknown
Florence, as foreigners and tourists call this city, is known to locals as Firenze. Previously, it was called Florentia in Latin, then Fiorenza in Old Italian.
Here is the Florence skyline from the Piazza Michelangelo where you can see the view of the Cathedral, Palazzo Vecchio and the Ponte Vecchio.
Two days in Florence is not enough to explore the iconic highlights of this city, but too bad, that’s the only time we have on this European tour.
And our first day was a bit dark and gloomy but our parkas made it bright and cheerful.
There are many cities in Europe that are walkable, and Florence, Italy is one of them. By wandering the cobbled street, alleyways and backstreets, there were so much to discover like old churches, pastry shops and beautiful empty streets away from where all the tourists are.
Florence, like many Italian cities, is known for its churches. First stop is the Basilica of Santa Groce, which is Located in the Piazza Santa Groce. This church is truly beautiful with its front facade coloured green, pink and red marble panels in contrast with the marbled white stone. It was constructed at a similar time as the Duomo thus it has the same features. But aside from being one of the biggest Franciscan churches in Italy, it is also famous for being the burial place of well known people such as Galilei, Michelangelo and Machiavelli.
In the front of the Basilica, on the left hand side, is a marble monument dedicated to Dante Alighieri by Enrico Pazzi to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Dante’s birth.
We went walking through the cobbled streets until we reached a quaint little shop with anything and everything relating to Pinocchio . Who hasn’t heard of Pinocchio, the wooden puppet whose nose grows every time he lies. Le Avventure di Pinocchio was published by Carlo Lorenzini (pen named Collodi) and he was a Florentine. This shop is named Bartolucci Shop Firenze and it’s like a magic spell was cast to me… looking at all the wares they have and even taking a photo with Mr Pinocchio himself.
On our way to more churches, we passed by the Museo Casa di Dante, which is a 3 floor museum about the life and works of the great Italian poet, Dante Alighieri. Disappointed that we didn’t have enough time to go in.
Now, you will know that the Duomo is just around the corner, when you see the crowd just getting bigger and bigger.
The Cathedral Complex in Piazza del Duomo consist of the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, Giotto’s Bell Tower and the Baptistery of St John which are all part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This is one of the most celebrated cathedrals in the world, located in the centre of the old city, the Florence Cathedral or the Duomo stands out for miles amongst the other olden style architecture in Firenze.
The Florence Cathedral is a Gothic structure that was begun in 1296 and completed by 1436. The dome that covers the cathedral was the largest dome in the world at the time when it was designed.
The Giotto’s Bell Tower is red, green and white marble campanille. It is a fair way to the top and if you are fit enough, I believe that the bird’s eye view is breath taking.
The Florence Baptistery, also known as the Baptistery of St John is part of the of the Duomo complex and is octagonal in shape. It is a religious building in honour of St John, the patron Saint of Florence.
The Gates of Paradise is the main gate of the Bapistery located in the front of the cathedral. This seventeen-foot tall, three ton bronze doors has become an icon of Renaissance, one of the most famous works of art in the whole world. We stood there for quite a while admiring the workmanship of the door panels.
More walking and so much more to see.
Aside from the famous Duomo and the Basilica of San Groce there were a lot more churches to be seen. Here are some of them.
Church and Museum of Orsanmichele is famous because of the sculpture of saints placed in niches or tabernacles on all four sides of the church.
We also happened to pass by the San Gaetano also known as Church of San Michele is a Baroque church in Florence, located in the Piazza Antinori.
San Giuseppe is a Baroque architecture Roman catholic church near the Piazza Santa Groce..
We believe these are doors to other churches which we failed to find out.
And it was amazing to see people wearing costumes and performing, some wares being sold in the streets and wine…great wine with lunch.
And that was our first day in beautiful Florence.
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