Europe 14 - Day 15


Today we headed from Rimini back inland by train, first to Bologna and then transferring to the train to Florence. Once at Florence, our hotel was only a short walk from the station, across the Piazza Santa Maria Novella. After checking in we headed out into the crowds to have a first look at Florence and to get our bearings. We were here for three days so there was no hurry to see everything.

Rimini to Florence by train

The first train was a slow local one, but the train from Bologna to Florence was a new high-speed train. We waited on the platform at Bologna along with a few others, both local Italians and a few tourists. The difference was obvious. After a while a casually dressed woman came along holding out a cup and asking for money. She was not successful as far as we could see but Bologna has a long platform. A few minutes later another woman came back the other way also holding out a cup for money. After she had passed we realised it was the same woman. After walking the length of the platform she had turned her coat inside out so it was a different colour, rearranged her hair and changed her hat - presto a "different" beggar!

The railway station at Rimini.
Passing fruit trees.
Apples I think.
More Arborio rice.
Hay bales - at least these cattle are getting square meals...?
A field of onions.
And of tomatoes.
This where they will end up - in jars of pasta sauce.
Processed perhaps by solar power.
The sign for our train.
One of the fast trains.
The train to Rome is running 15 minutes late.
The Rome train.



We arrived at the station in Florence - another big station crowded with people. The hotel was only a short walk away so we pushed our way through, past the buses and taxis, down the small alley beside the church and there it was, the Grand Hotel Minerva. We found our room, had a nice cup of tea (One of the few hotels that provided a jug, tea and coffee) then headed out into the crowded streets. This was Saturday and there were crowds everywhere. Down to the river - the Arno and the famous bridges. The oldest bridge is the Ponte Vecchio where all the jewellery shops are located and this was especially crowded. From there it was a short walk to see the Cattedrale di Santa Maria Del Fiore - Il Duomo for short.

The view from the Florence station towards the Piazza Santa Maria Novella.
From the piazza, the front of the Basilica Santa Maria Novella.
Across the square to other hotels and cafes.
But just beside the Basilica was our hotel..
The room was quite small but had good furniture including a jug to make tea!
Walking down towards the Arno River....
you pass statues, monuments ...
and Renaissance architecture everywhere.
These are a modern form of Italian design.
The Arno River and the Ponte Santa Trinita.
The Ponte Vecchio from a distance,
And close up.
Crowds on the bridge.
All looking at the jewellery shops.
But not many buying anything.
Cameos from Naples were popular.
In the centre of the bridge is a space to view the Arno.
Such as this view.
And on a building is this memorial: Gerhard Wolff
German Consul born in Dresden
later a twin city with Florence
He adopted a decisive role
for the salvation of the Ponte Vecchio (1944)
from the barbarism of World War II
was instrumental in the release
of political persecuted and Jews
in the dramatic phase of the Nazi occupation
Placed by the Commune on ll April 2007 to record
the award of honorary citizenship.
The southern end of the bridge.
The north end looking towards Il Duomo.
In the centre - even the Police use cellphones.
The bronze bust of Cellini.
More crowds as we head towards the Palazzo Vecchio - the Old Palace.

Piazza Della Signoria, Il Duomo and back to the hotel

We followed the crowds from the Ponte Vecchio towards the Palazzo Vecchio. The Old Palace lies on the edge of the Piazza Della Signoria where the Statue of David (replica) the Fountain of Neptune and various other marbles (real) are found. There is also a life-sized atatue of Cosimo Medici on his horse. From here it is a short walk to Il Duomo - the largest cathedral in Florence.

Part of the Ufizzi Gallery with various marbles.
Some of the marble statues of classic Roman scenes.
Yet another building getting a facelift - they hide the scaffolding behind a clever printed cover.
The replica Statue of David standing where the original was first placed.
Nearby is Neptune.
Neptune with the Palazzo Vecchio in the background.
Cosimo Medici on his horse.
The Cathedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore - Il Duomo.
Giotto's Belltower beside the Cathedral.
The Tower - I climbed to the top the next day.
Another view of the Cathedral.
The side exit.
The elaborate front of the Cathedral.
Across the top are 12 statues.
Mural over the main entrance.
Close up view of the detailed panelling - in stone.
Crowds thronged the piazza.
There are books and souvenirs everywhere.
In the middle of the crowds, dust and heat are - horse and buggy rides!!
Behind the horse you can see scaffolding covering the Baptistry. This is the door.
Heading away from the Cathedral along the narrow streets.
What's he doing here??
Soon you are reminded that Pinocchio is Italian and the writer Carlo Collodi came from Florence.
Back to our hotel.
The square was planted in pink roses.
The hotel and square at night.
Street vendors were trying to sell parachute lights - you can see the bright blue arcs in the sky.

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Last updated: 12/10/2014