Florence, capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, is renowned as the cradle of the Renaissance. Our 1987 bus tour of Italy was immediately and totally enchanted by its natural beauty and the splendour of its magnificent heritage of artistic, architectural and cultural masterpieces.
An immediate attraction was the majestic Duomo, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fioro, one of the largest Cathedrals in the Christian world. Built in the 14th and 15th centuries, it is noted for its magnificent terracotta-tiled dome built by Brunelleschi. The facade of the Cathedral is relatively new, having been constructed in the late 19th century. Doors of the adjoining Baptistry are world famous, decorated with scenes ranging from Adam and Eve to Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.
Flanking the Cathedral and Baptistry is the 14th century Giotto Bell tower.
The political centre of Florence, the Piazza della Signoria, seemed like an open air museum with its many statues. Those of Hercules and Perseus holding the head of Medusa were most impressive.
The Galleria dell’Accademia display of Michelangelo’s superb “David” sculpture was a popular attraction.
We spent two full days in Florence, being entirely on our own after a Saturday morning guided tour. For us the best part of being there was the pleasure of walking everywhere with no vehicles allowed in the city centre during the daytime.
The entire inner city is honoured as a World Heritage site.
The galleries like the fabulous Uffizi and the Pitti Palace, former home of the Medici family, were wonderful to see but mind boggling at the sheer number and variety of great paintings and sculptures. Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” and da Vinci’s “Annunciation” were among numerous masterpieces on display.
Outside the galleries, we were dazzled by the beauty of the Ponte Vecchio, the arched medieval bridge adorned with goldsmith, jewellery and souvenir shops. Happily, it emerged undamaged from world war devastation, the only bridge over the river Arno to do so.