Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Our Trip to Tuscany: Florence

The great holiday recap continues.

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After our day in Siena it was time to explore Florence. How I wish we'd had more time in this city which I'm sure contains more history than my whole country. We barely had time to scratch the surface.

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The highlight of the day was meeting the lovely Blandina, who blogs over at la griccia. We were a lot later into Florence than expected but Blandina showed endless patience before we finally met up at one of Florence's best known monuments, her Duomo.

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It really was like meeting an old friend - Blandina is exactly the warm, gracious and fun-spirited woman I'd imagined her to be while reading her blog. We had several hours together and I don't think there was a five minute stretch when one of us wasn't talking.

She led us through the crowded city, taking us to a few nearby sites. The Piazza della Repubblica - hard to believe this was once a ghetto area before being reclaimed to commemorate the unification of Italy in the 1800s.

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The Fontana del Porcellino - rub his snout for good luck and drop a coin through his mouth to ensure you will return to Florence. The original was cast in 1612, this one which Blandina is holding my daughter up to accost is a copy.

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Wikipedia tells me there are 13 replica boars located all around the world - including Sydney, Australia and Aix-en-Provence (10 minutes away from me)! Might have to go and see if I can find it. Anyone else have one nearby?

We then moved on to the Piazza della Signoria, where amongst many things we got to see the Palazzo Vecchio (left) and the Loggia dei Lanzi (right).

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Then it was on to the Ponte Vecchio. Here is the famous medieval stone bridge as seen from above the city:

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Once the domain of butchers who used the river to carry away their slaughtering slops, the bridge is now home to souvenir sellers and some very nice jewellery stores.

It was super busy when we were there:

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The view out from the midway point:

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There's nothing like having someone guide you around a city they know well. Blandina was a walking Lonely Planet book - she had something to tell us about nearly every building or square we passed - the mister and I had a great time.

After the Ponte Vecchio, Blandina took us to a fantastic sorbet shop so we could reward the kids for their lack of whinging (we run a fair few blackmailing rackets around here) and then it was time for us to part ways.

We headed back past the Duomo, enjoying one last look at that gorgeous facade:

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We drove back via the Boboli Gardens and stopped to take some panoramic shots over the city.

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Had to take a photo of these lamp posts on the terrace overlooking the city. The Marzocco, or Heraldic Lion, is a symbol of Florence. I think it's a great idea to incorporate a theme into your lamp posts, but I've got to say, these are a little weird. Three legs? No body? And what exactly is going on under there?

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You could spend weeks exploring Florence, drinking in the history, culture and beauty. I'm sure one day I'll come back and do just that - after all, boars don't lie.

And many, many thanks to Blandina for making a great day close to perfect.

14 comments:

  1. Your pictures are fabulous! Although I was happy to get out of there before the hordes of tourists infested that beautiful city (that Ponte Vecchio traffic - need I say more?) - your photos tugged at my hearstrings a little. I used to stretch just past where that guy with the camera is standing in the last photo before around Viale Michealangelo...In fact, I've hardly been able to go back to look at my Italy photos since I've been back these last 2 weeks & claiming "I'm so over Florence" - but your perspective reminds me of how much I loved it and and was lucky to call it home for over a year. Beautiful, Kirsty - and thank you.

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  2. Dear Kirsty, I had a lot of fun being with your family for while. Your children have the nicest manners I have ever seen, besides being beautiful and never complaining. I enjoyed our time together and being in your and your husband's company.
    Your post about Florence is a pleasure to read...and so many nice words for me!

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  3. Weird lamp posts indeed! I remember the Ponte Vecchio being just like that when I was there many years ago! Thanks for another lovely tour!

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  4. so beautiful.....seems u had a lot of fun....

    http://www.etsy.com/shop/Rosabellebyvasu

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  5. That church is just something else! It takes my breath away every time. Gorgeous!

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  6. I am travelling to Italy in September and going to Florence amongst other places...I am actually staying near the Boboli gardens so thanks SO much for this "entree" of this seemingly beautiful city...I am so enjoying your tour...thanks for sharing it with us all

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  7. Your photos of Italy have brought back many wonderful memories...my husband asked me (3 yrs ago) if you could visit one country which one would it be? Of course my answer was Italy and so he took me there for my 50th. Sadly we had little time to explore Florence as I was ill the day we stayed there, we would love to return one day. from Jenny McH

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  8. Wonderful photos Kirsty - I have stood on the terrace overlooking this impressive city - it was pouring with rain but the atmosphere was electric. You have captured the Tuscan colours beautifully.

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  9. Breath taking photos! I threw coins in the Trevi fountain about 23 years ago - hope I get to go back soon.

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  10. Such beautiful pictures, again! Florence is so amazing, I also would like to return one day with more time than an afternoon and see the Uffizi and to appreciate the other sights and atmosphere better.

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  11. LMAO. I haven't visited for a while, so I was scrolling down to find the oldest post I hadn't read. Great pictures of beautiful landscapes, gorgeous countryside, magnificent architecture, and in amongst it all, Daniel Craig? I love how you manage to work him or Hugh into the occasional post. Not gratuitous at all. Haha.

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  12. Again, prefect pictures of an amazing city... We spent 5 days in Florence and even then it was hard to leave, because we wanted to see so much more! Very special that meeting with Blandina, I will go and check out her blog right away.

    Hugs, Maaike

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  13. how lucky to spend day with that lovely lady from arcane. i am certain that she is every bit as gorgeous as she seems in her blog and emails. it sounds like a great time was had by all

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  14. Thanks for sharing your wonderful photos! I lived in Florence for one summer during college and crossed the Ponte Vecchio and passed by the Duomo every day - your pictures bring back great memories! It looks like you guys had fun and saw all the hot spots. While I lived there, the tourists always made me smile - I just didn't eat where they did as I was determined not to pay a coperto. :)

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