While staying at Benabbio, our wonderful friend, Debra, offered to escort we ladies on a day trip to Florence. On an overcast, drizzly morning, we drove to Lucca station and braved an hour long white-knuckle bus ride along the autostrada to Firenze (a much nicer name than Florence). We alighted the bus at the Piazza di Santa Maria Novella.
The Basilica di Santa Maria Novella was stunning,
a sample of thing to come.
Our first stop was Caffe Giacosa for coffee and calories
followed by an amble along the main shopping street, window shopping along the way because we couldn’t afford to stop and buy.
Debra pointed out this interesting chap watching from the street corner.
We made our way to the Duomo di Firenze and with the sun shining it was absolutely breathtaking.
Nearby, the Baptistry, one of the oldest buildings in the city, constructed between 1059 and 1128, displayed its spectacular Eastern Doors. Described by Michelangelo as the Gates of Paradise, the panels took 27 years to complete.
There was a very long queue to see inside the Duomo so we opted to climb the 414 very narrow stone steps to the top of Giotto’s Campanile.
The view, as we climbed, was stunning
and looking down on the Duomo highlighted the intricacies of the façade.
There are seven bells in the tower and as we were standing at the top taking in the panorama of Firenze,
all seven rang in the hour of mezzogiorno, a truly memorable moment.
A quick look at where we had been
and our excursion continued to the Piazza della Signoria and the statue of David
in the shadow of the Palazzo Vecchio, the town hall of Firenze.
He is in good company with Neptune, Hercules and Perseus
and a bit further on, more friends at the Galleria degli Uffizi.
On the wall of the Palazzo Vecchio is a Michelangelo graffiti, a profile etched in one of the stone blocks.
The Ponte Vecchio was our next destination,
a medieval stone bridge spanning the Arno River
and occupied by an array of beautiful shops.
It was first built in 996AD and after being swept away twice, was rebuilt in 1345. Downstream….
is the Ponte Santa Trinita, destroyed in 1944 by the retreating German troops. The original stones were retrieved from the river or taken from the same quarry to reconstruct it in 1958.
Debra finally let us have a break and we lunched at Trattoria Bordino, a small ristorante in a very quiet lane.
After a wonderful meal and a little vino,
we were fortified for the afternoon. We visited the Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, the longest continually operating pharmacy in the world. The sculptures and frescoes were magnificent as we wandered through the many rooms.
Founded in 1221 by the Dominican Friars, all products are still handmade in Firenze.
Our day was coming to a close and after a quick look around the leather market, we boarded the bus for Lucca and another animated drive home. Thank you, Debra, for those very special memories of Firenze.