June 5, 2019
Livorno is located in central Tuscany and is the gateway to Pisa and Florence.
Today we chose to go on a tour to Florence called “Fascinating Florence”. It was a 10 hour tour and we were delighted to find out that there were only 10 people on the tour! That made it a terrific day since the group was so small.
Here’s our sail in and the port. There are a lot of ancient towers and walls in all of these cities. Most of the walls have been destroyed but some pieces of them remain.
Our guide was Antonella. The trip to Florence took about 90 minutes and she gave us a lot of information about Tuscany and Florence, which is the capital of this region in central Italy.
Approximately 3 million people live in Tuscany and about 350,000 of them live in Florence.
The area is well known for agriculture, especially wine and olives and also for tourism in Florence, Pisa, Lucca, Siena and San Gimignano.
We have been to all of those cities before on our trip to Italy with the family back in 2001 and really enjoyed them, so it is time to do some of them again.
From the 13th to the 16th centuries, this era of creative freedom encouraged the genius of Dante, Donatello, Michelangelo, Giotto, Botticelli, da Vinci and Machiavelli to create some of the world’s most noted masterpieces.
Our first visit in Florence was the Galleria dell Accademia which contains the masterpiece – Michelangelo’s David. Antonella encouraged us to study some of Michelangelo’s unfinished sculptures which are in the same gallery. Some were to be created for the Pope at the time, but they were never completed. The David is the only fully completed sculpture.
Here are the unfinished ones – which are genius in themselves.
And the David is just amazing. Michelangelo studied cadavers to get every detail just right. Antonella was so helpful as we studied this sculpture – she pointed out aspects such as the facial expressions that we might not have noticed in the same way. The sculpture was outside for 300 years before it was moved. There was damage to one finger and a wrist which was repaired. There is now a replica in the spot outside where this original once stood.
Another sculpture in this gallery is the Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna. Other paintings by Botticelli and Renaissance masters are in the gallery as well.
Here is the copy that is outside.
The Accademia was first a school, so there is another whole area of sculptures that were done by students. Some of them have holes in them because the students were studying proportion.
Antonella took us on an extensive walking tour of the main sights in Florence. She explained the influence of the Medici family who were bankers that gathered influence in Florence in the 15th century. They were great lovers of the arts and of architecture and were wealthy so could contribute to the city in many ways. They ruled as a political family and were the most powerful families in Florence.
This is their family crest which is found on many buildings in the city.
Florence is called the “City of the Lily” and it gave birth to the Renaissance and changed the way we see the world. The churches, medieval towers, Renaissance palaces and museums and galleries contain some of the most outstanding achievements of Western history.
Here are some examples.
These are the famous golden Gates of Paradise on the Baptistery of St. John. You can’t get too close to them but even from a short distance they are impressive.
The many churches are just amazing in the detail of the frescos, stained glass and paintings that adorn the inside and the statues on the outside. The Duomo is the reddish dome in the first photo.
And the Church of Santa Croce contains 270 tombstones that adorn the floors of the church along with the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli and others. It is a huge place.
Of course we had a wonderful lunch in Acqua Al 2 which was recommended by friends on the ship. Then we had gelato at Antonella’s favorite shop.
Here are some other sights from the city, including the ones from the terrace overlooking the city on our way back to the ship.
This is the famous Ponte Vecchio over the Arno River.
Amazing day. On the way back we went through the countryside – lots of vineyards and beautiful landscapes.