Florence in Two Days: Day 1

I couldn’t say enough times how perfect the location of San Gimignano was in Tuscany for taking day-trips, we were only about an hour outside of Florence – and we took advantage of this two days in a row during the week.

Florence was b-e-a-utiful, and there was so much to be seen and done we definitely could not have conquered the city in just the two days we had there. Thankfully, Kyle did his research and had for us two Firenze (Florence) Cards, which proved to be worth every penny and saved us a countless amount of time. The Firenze Card gave us access to almost all of the museums and sites with pre-paid admissions (they aren’t free like museums in DC) and let us skip the lines – if we did not have one, it would have been impossible to see and do all of what we were able to.

We parked the car outside the city walls, and walked into Florence over the Ponte Vecchio – which is an old bridge with stores along it, and was very crowded and a bit underwhelming (or overhyped) in my opinion. Regardless, there were some great views.

Florence Ponte Vecchio collageFlorence Ponte Vecchio 1

The main piazza (from what I could tell was the main one), Piazza della Signoria, was outside of a fortress/palace/town hall, the Palazzo Vecchio, and displayed a large number of sculptures. The two below are my favorite, the one on the left, I believe according to Rick Steves, is one of the first pieces of art made to be viewed at any angle. The fountain on the right, I know nothing about, but I love the attitude in his face.

Piazza della Signoria Loggia dei Lanzi collage

Inside the fortress/palace/town hall, the Palazzo Vecchio, was more art featuring naked men (wahoo!), maps, and history of Italy and Florence. The sculpture below represents the triumph of Florence over Siena (thanks again, Rick Steves), however I think it just looks hilarious and confusing. Palazzo Vecchio - Florence over SienaPalazzo Vecchio Map Room

If you’ve been following the blog, you’ll recognize the style of the outside of the cathedral in Florence, it looks quite similar to the Duomo in Siena, Siena had built theirs to compete with Florence.  The inside, however, is not as decorative. Quite plain in comparison to Siena’s “cover every inch” decorating philosophy.
Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore Duomo di Firenze Florence Cathedral 2 Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore Duomo di Firenze Florence Cathedral inside 1Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore Duomo di Firenze Florence Cathedral dome

We didn’t do any shopping in Florence at all, however there were quite a lot of stores (and adorable guard dogs). Florence shopping pup DSC_0860

As the museums were closing that evening, we walked along the river and scaled a very steep hill (maybe a mile high), with a fresh pizza and bottle of wine, in order to watch the sun set over the city. It was crowded up there, and we were sweaty from the climb, but it was worth it.   DSC_0878 DSC_0879 DSC_0887 DSC_0891 DSC_0894 DSC_0904 DSC_0906

I know I was there, and I took the photos, but I’m even now still in disbelief over how beautiful this city was. Anyone booking a flight to Florence right now? Take me with you!!

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Short Trip to Siena

San Gimignano was perfectly located for day trips to other parts of Tuscany – one rainy morning we hit the road and traveled to Siena, about 45 minutes away. Siena was a great city I wish we could have spent more time in, but we had enough time to walk the streets window shopping, tour the Siena Cathedral (Duomo), and have dinner in the Piazza del Campo.

Here is Kyle, looking quite touristy:

DSC_0718This is the Duomo di Siena, which was definitely the most beautiful cathedral I’ve ever seen, or could imagine. Every piece of this place is covered in art and history.  If you’re ever there, I recommend paying a little extra for the tour – there is too much going on around you to comprehend on your own.
DSC_0725 DSC_0727 DSC_0740 DSC_0741 Check out these floor tiles, throughout the cathedral there are flowers that look quite … 1960’s … and not 1300s. DSC_0743 DSC_0744At some point in history the city of Siena decided they wanted to expand the cathedral, and began work on the “new” cathedral which would have beed a major addition. It never went through, but in Italian fashion they didn’t tear down what they had built – so today you can climb up into the “front” of the new cathedral and look out on the city and beyond into Tuscany. 
DSC_0792DSC_0775 DSC_0777 DSC_0784 DSC_0786Can you believe they race horses in this space? I, can not.
siena Piazza del CampoThe next post will be about our visit to Florence!