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Sailing Through History V-Florence and Pisa, Italy

A walking Tour into Italy's Past

If there is a city in the world that can be called a "work of art" in my opinion, it is Florence, Italy. Florence, the capital of the region of Tuscany, has a population of around half a million inhabitants. The city spreads on the banks of the Arno, between the Adriatic and the Tyrrhenian seas, almost in the middle of the Italian peninsula. It is a city known for commerce and culture, art and science. Florence is one of the most beautiful and ancient cities in Italy and the world. It gave to birth many of the men who have more profoundly influenced the course of human history in every field of knowledge, art, literature and philosophy. Botticelli, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci all left their mark on Florence. Florence is known as the "cradle of the Renaissance for its monuments, churches and buildings. The best-known site and crowning architectural jewel of Florence is the domed cathedral of the city, Santa Maria del Fiore, known as The Duomo. Michelangelo's David stands behind the doors of the Galleria dell'Accademia, and works by da Vinci and other Italian masters can be found in the Uffizi Gallery.

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We began our day in Tuscany with a drive through the wine region. Mile after mile of vineyards and farm land could be seen through the large windows of our tour bus. On the outskirts of Florence I could see the bridge over the Arno river and then the buildings came into view.

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The tour bus dropped us off near the central part of the city, the streets were very narrow and there were lots of people milling around. Our tour guide gave us a few minutes to take photos in the plaza, so I took that opportunity to duck into a small restaurant to buy an espresso.
The weather was perfect that morning, sunny and warm and there were tables and chairs in the plaza where one could sit and drink their coffee and enjoy the views. The was even a carrousel there for children of all ages to enjoy.

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Our guide described the amazing history of Florence as we walked as a group down the street behind her. When we crossed a busy street and turned a corner, I stopped dead in my tracks on the sidewalk, totally stunned at what I was seeing. Never before had I seen such ornately constructed buildings in my life! The art work was breathtaking!

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When I had recovered my equilibrium, I started taking lots of photos as our tour guide led us to the Duomo and the Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross) the principal Franciscan church in Florence, and a minor basilica of the Roman Catholic Church. It is situated on the Piazza di Santa Croce, just south east of the Duomo. I found the site totally fascinating because it is the burial place of some of the most illustrious Italians in history, Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli. Our tour included entry into the Basilica, so I was actually able to see the tombs of these famous and infamous men.

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Upon leaving the Basilica we walked a few streets over to a small restaurant where we stopped for lunch. One of my goals on this trip was to sample the native cuisine of the area and I was really glad our tour included this fantastic meal. We all sat down family style to enjoy homemade lasagna and other pasta dishes with bread and lots of Italian wine. The food was so good! By the time lunch was over we were barely able to walk back to our tour bus for the trip to Pisa that would round out our day.

The drive to Pisa did not take long. Pisa is a city in Tuscany, Central Italy, on the right bank of the mouth of the River Arno on the Ligurian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Pisa. Although Pisa is known worldwide for its Leaning Tower (the bell tower of the city's cathedral), the city of over 87,500 residents contains more than 20 other historic churches, several palaces and various bridges across the River Arno. The city is also home of the University of Pisa, which has a history going back to the 12th century. Because of time constraints in getting back to the ship before sail away, our time in Pisa was short. The tour bus let us off for the long walk to the site of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and we struggled along, really tired now after all the activity and food in Florence.

I must say that the walk to the tower was well worth the struggle. The sight of the Tower was really beautiful in the afternoon sun. I took photos and just spent time gazing up at the structure, once again pondering the winds of fate that had brought me to a place I thought I would never see in my lifetime. All to soon it was time to go. We slowly made our way back to the tour bus, taking time to buy some mementos to take home. Our visit to Tuscany had been wondrous, and now it was time to move on.

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Coming next, the lost city of Pompeii and the Almalfi Coast of Italy.

To be continued.......

Posted by Gerriv 17:47

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