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Livorno Shore 2

Livorno (Leghorn) was founded on a former auxiliary Pisan port between 1576 and the early 17th century, on the orders of the Grand Duke Cosimo I who made it Tuscany's main outlet to the sea after the Pisan port was filled in. Originally constructed to a pentagonal design and with a still visible orthogonal street system, the town grew in the 19th century; it suffered serious damage during the last War and now has a modern appearance.

Livorno is the port closest to Florence and Pisa.  Florence is about an hour or hour-and-a-half away by bus, through the beautiful Tuscan countryside, where we saw vineyards and olive trees.

Go to     Florence     or     PISA

Livorno Buses in Livorno
Livorno - look closely for the medieval wall in the center of the picture Do we have to get off the ship for shore excursions?
Florence  (Firenze)
FLORENCE, capital of the region of Tuscany, has a population of around half a million inhabitants. It spreads on the banks of the Arno, almost in the middle of the Italian peninsula. Florence is a popular tourist destination in the summer (read … mobbed!)
Founded by the Romans in the first century B.C., Florence began its rebirth after the decadence of the barbaric ages, and reached its highest pinnacles of civilization between the 11th and 15th centuries, as a free city, balancing the authority of the Emperors with that of the Popes. In the 15th century, it came under the rule of the Medici family, who later became the Grand Dukes of Tuscany. This was the period when the city was at the height of its glory in art and culture, in politics and economic power. In 1860 Tuscany became part of the Kingdom of Italy, of which Florence was the capital from 1865 to 1871.

Florence contains an exceptional artistic legacy.  Works of the founders of the Italian Renaissance, of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, along with those of many generations of artists, are gathered in the city's many museums. In Florence, thanks to Dante, the Italian language was born; with Machiavelli modern political science was born; and with Galileo, modern experimental science. Up to the time of Charlemagne, Florence was a university town. Today it includes many specialized institutes and is an international cultural center. Academies, art schools, scientific institutes and cultural centers all contribute to the city's intense activity.

Florence Map (with clickable hot spots)

Click the orange circles to see the main spots we saw ...

Florence hillside Barb and Chris Arno river
Hillside enroute into the old city Barb and Chris Arno river
Santa Croce

The Franciscan Basilica of Santa Croce was constructed from 1294 through 1442.  The façade, which is now quite elaborate, was left undecorated; in fact it was not completed until 1857-63, more or less at the same time as the Belltower was rebuilt to replace the original one which had been struck by lightning.  A huge church (115 m long), covered with frescoes inside, it is overshadowed by the more famous Il Duomo.   Santa Croce is known as Italy's Westminster Abbey because of all the Italian monarchy buried there - for instance, Michelangelo and Galileo are both buried inside.  We didn't have the time to go look ...

Santa Croce Santa Croce facade Santa Croce
Santa Croce Facade The square is full of pedestrians and vendors and little shops
Barb Frescoes
Barb, checking out the shopping Frescoes
Galleria dell’ Accademia   (Official website, in Italian)

First we took a taxi to the Galleria dell' Accademia, which is where the original "David" is housed.  We were clever and bought tickets in advance.  This was a very good thing - the lines were very long and we would not have made it into the museum before our bus left again for Pisa.

This museum was commissioned in 1784 with a decree that all the schools of drawing in Florence were to be united into a single Academy and that it was to contain a gallery of paintings by old masters to help the studies of the young artists. It is still here in the buildings that once belonged to the Hospital of San Matteo and to the nearby convent of San Niccoló (which is probably why it is such an ugly building!)  The principal attraction is Michelangelo’s David.   David is hue – 13’ 5” tall – and the detail such as veins in the hands is unbelievable!  

See other great images of David

David David David
Il Duomo of Florence, Santa Maria del Fiore

Originally named Santa Maria de Fiore, the current cathedral and its predecessors span 600 years of Florentine history.  The term "Duomo" is apparently derived from the conflation of the two Latin words Dominus (Lord) and Domus (house) through medieval Italian: a cathedral is "the house of God" — domus Dei, or domus Ecclesiae

The Cathedral, Bell tower, and Baptistry all share the same square.

Traditionally empty of pews, up to 10,000 people could congregate freely in the cathedral's vast interior. On Easter Sunday 1478, the Duomo was the site of the city's most infamous murder - Giuliano de'Medici was brutally stabbed to death in front of the congregation.

It was surprisingly bare inside, aside from the ceiling.  We squeezed our way inside the side entrance and took a peek rather than stand in line.  Florence was mobbed and we just didn’t have the time to stand in line anywhere.

Aerial photo of Il Duomo

Aerial view of Il Duomo
You can see how tightly packed the city is

Bell Tower

The Cathedral was constructed from 1296 to 1436, although the center was uncovered until the great dome was built in the 1430’s.  The facade wasn’t given its covering of white Carrara, green Prato and red Siena marble until the nineteenth century. 

Duomo

Il Duomo The Apse
Il Duomo - main entrance The Apse
Inside Il Duomo Facade
Inside Il Duomo Facade
Barb and Chris Mom and Barb Mom and Boar
One of Chris' typical poses Ooooh, more pastries ... Legend has it that if the coin rolls into the slot below, you will return to Florence some day
Enroute to our next destination, we stopped and bought stamps.  What a confusing ordeal that was!!  We also stopped and bought Gelato, which was actually a bit disappointing ...  and the streets were mobbed.    Of course we stopped and shopped enroute to our final destination ...

Ponte Vecchio

This is the oldest bridge and it crosses the Arno River at its widest point.  This structure with three stone arches replaced a wooden bridge which had crossed the Arno River at this spot since Roman times.   After the flooding of 1333 it was reconstructed with a double row of shops.  In 1565 the east-facing Vasariano Corridor above the shops was built and the back-shops were added in the seventeenth century giving the bridge its actual structure.  Originally it was all butcher shops – but now it houses mostly jewelry and a gallery.   Apparently the new shops smell much better than the old one.

Ponte Vecchio
Ponte Vecchio Ponte Vecchio Pedestrians on the bridge
Ponte Vecchio Viewing the river The crowd
Barb and Mom Shops Leaving
Walking the Ponte Vecchio Above the Ponte Vecchio Leaving the Ponte Vecchio
Barb shopping Street River Arno
A key tourist sport - SHOPPING! Typical pedestrian street River Arno
River view
Looking off of the Ponte Vecchio
River view
Pisa

Piazza dei Miracoli (Plaza or Field of Miracles)

We reboarded the bus, and rode for about 30 minutes to the university town of Pisa.   We walked into the older part of town, into the Plaza of Miracles, where we would see the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  The plaza contains three spectacular buildings; the Baptistry, cathedral, and bell tower (Campanile) The leaning tower is actually the bell tower of the cathedral. 

Piazza map

Inside the Piazza Gate Baptistry Barb and Chris

Inside the gate into the Piazza dei Miracoli

The Baptistry Inside the Piazza
Inside the Piazza
Inside the Piazza (look at all the shopping along the edges!)
Church and Tower Barb and Mom Church and Bell Tower
Church and Bell Tower   Church and Bell Tower

Work on the tower began in 1173; and was completed in 1360 after nearly a century of inactivity and numerous attempts to correct the “leaning”.  The tower is now about 10 degrees off of vertical - or nearly 9 feet!  In person, the amount of leaning is spectacular.

Tower Mom and Chris Tower from back
Leaning Tower Aren't we cute? The Leaning Tower, from behind the church
 

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