Europe 14 - Day 16


Today was Sunday and the centre of Florence was getting crowded, so we decided to walk up the hill on the far side of the river to see the view of Florence from the "Piazzale Michelangelo". From there we headed back down the hill to the Arno River and crossed over on the Ponte San Niccolo. Our plan was to find the right bus that would take us east to the terminus at Il Girone and from there it would be a short walk to the Commonwealth war Cemetery where several of my father's Army mates are buried.

Piazzale Michelangelo

After an excellent breakfast at the Hotel, we walked down to the Arno and crossed to the south side on the Ponte alla Carraia. We walked along the riverbank to the Ponte Vecchio and then turned south towards the Pitti Palace. This is now an art gallery. After some deliberation, we decided not to enter the Palace as this would consume most of the day. Instead we continued east and took the steep narrow roads that climbed the hill, first Costa del Magnoli and then the curving Costa san Giorgio. This took us through a gate in the old wall and out of the old city. The road follows the wall down the steep hill (it looked flat on the map....) to a set of steep stairs that finally took us to the top and the viewpoint we were seeking. Here you get a magnificent view aross Florence with the River Arno below and the Duomo of Santa Maria del Fiore, and the Basilica de Santa Croce.

View across the rooftops from our hotel room.
I don't think they get many earthquakes here.
Complex patterns in the plaster.
On this side of the river it is all bicycles.
Looking along the Arno.
The Ponte Vecchio with a water boatman.
Actually its a single sculler leaving regular patterns in the river.
One of many marble statues - Carlo Goldoni (1707-1793), playwright. Born Venice, lived in Florence, died in Paris.
Narrow streets are everywhere.
The Pitti Palace.
The art gallery entrance - it was still early morning (10.15am) so not many people about.
The start of the steep streets.
A view back down to the Arno River.
The road gets steeper.
Approaching the gate in the wall.
Looking back into the old city.
Now the road goes downhill.
Another gate into the city.
The steps up to the top of the hill.
That's the wall we have just walked along.
But the view was worth it.


Piazzale Michelangelo

At the top is a broad park with a copy of the Statue of Michelangelo in the middle. It provides a broad panorama view across Florence. It is also a favourite place for all the hawkers, but they seem more erstrained here so I think the Police are keeping them off the Piazzale itself. There were plenty of them on the paths and steps on the way up.

The view across Florence.
Looking west along the Arno with the Ponte Vecchio in the distance.
Central Florence with the Tower on the Palazzo Vecchio and the Dome of Santa Maria del Fiore.
A closer view of the Dome of Santa Maria del Fiore.
Basilica di Santa Croce.
The Palazzo Vecchio.
The Ponte Vecchio across the Arno River.
The north end of the Ponte Vecchio with part of the Uffizi Gallery on the right,
Close up of Il Duomo.
I was there.
The noise below was a wedding party.
Who departed in a a stretched car complete with pink ribbons.
That left the wedding guests to toss each other around...
and to leave the road strewn with confetti.
We went back to the view.
Behind us Michelangelo's David watched over the hawkers.
Local artwork.
Tourist trinkets - aprons were popular.
The umbrellas were thoughtful - it rained later.
These are colourful - how much for three?
Very dressed up, but it was Sunday.
More art, but not up to the standard of the sculpture.
Looking east, there is rain out there.
Going down the hill, the arches form ferneries..
Towers were once popular here.
Today its bubbles for the tourists.
Looking back uphill.
Porto San Niccolo was once another gate in the wall (made of bricks, but that's another song....)
Looking across the Arno to the old Mint.
In a shop window - just in case you had forgotten where you were and who were the most famous residents.
The Arno is deep here.
Ponte a San Niccolo.

Florence Commonwealth War Cemetery

After crossing the Arno we found the correct bus stop to take us to the Commonwealth War Cemetery. But we needed a bus ticket - you can buy them everywhere the guidebooks tell you - souvenir shops, newsagents etc. That is correct, but NOT on Sunday. they are all shut. We found a newsagent - yes they sell bus tickets, but no, we have just sold out....@#$%^*!! After a long walk around this part of Florence we found the right place and purchased two tickets, went back to the bus stop and soon the bus arrived. At that point we discovered you can purchase tickets from the driver....

The bus took us to the terminus at Il Girone, east of the city and close to the Arno River. From here it is a short walk to the Commonwealth War Cemetery. My father never made it to Florence during the war. He was wounded a few miles to the south, the sole surviver of his platoon who were all killed by a shell burst. They are all buried in the Florence Cemetery, along with many others killed on the night of 30 July 1944.

Sign on the road.
The entrance gates.
From the entrance you look across the Cemetery.
With the Stone at the far end on the banks of the Arno.
From the Stone looking back to the entrance.
Part of the decoration at the Stone.
The Arno River.
The New Zealand section of the Cemetery.
Another section.
The New Zealand section is well tended with flowers.
The graves of my father's mates.
L.J.C. Medway.
C.S. Murfitt
T.W. Molloy
J.H. McNeil
W.A. Wicken
D. Valintine
Standing beside Ces Murfitt's grave.
Back to the entrance gates.
Part of the description - 243 New Zealanders are buried here.
A circular panorama from the centre of the cemetery.

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Last updated: 12/10/2014