The first port of call in Italy was the port town of Livorno, which located on the coast of Tuscany, Italy. The location on the coast is home to around 161,000 people. However with the tour that I choose today Livorno itself was not on the agenda today.
Being that I was in this particular area of Italy, there were two cities that were must see. This included both Florence, and Pisa, and really seeing that I was going to be here were hard to pass up. It was a good thing that today was a longer day in port, or seeing both cities would be near impossible, at least seeing them in any sort of detail.
The area of Italy, that is Tuscany, is an area that has been featured in many Movies and really once you get here it does not disappoint. The countryside is just as green and just as beautiful as the movies portray the area to be. Although most of the time that we were able to see the countryside was when we were on the bus, I still managed to capture this picture.
The day started with a visit to Florence, a fairly historic town with many interesting sights. To cover the most interesting points of the city it was time to leave the bus and take a walking tour. In a large number of cities in Europe walking makes seeing a city much easier, as many of the streets are relatively narrow and are far from ideal to get a tour bus through. Besides there are often a large number of other tourists around who often pay little attention to the traffic.
The first place we visited was the cathedral, Duomo which was Brunelleschi’s masterpiece. However opposite the Cathedral was the Baptistery, in a separate building. The baptistery of the cathedral, had to be built in a separate building as you could not enter the cathedral if you had not been baptised. One of the interesting features of the baptistery is the doors; they have been made up of about 10 bronze reliefs. While I would have liked to get a photograph of the whole door, the number of people in the area made this impossible, so instead here is one of the reliefs.
Still at the Cathedral there was another really interesting feature, the Bell Tower. This seems to be something different in Italy to what I have come across in most other countries I have visited that the Bell Tower is a separate building to the Cathedral. Sometimes built in a slightly different style, while other times such as this case built to match the cathedral in Pink, Green and white Marble.
Carrying on the walking tour a little further on we arrived at the square in front of Palazzo Vecchio, which has been the seat of government for many hundreds of years. In front of the this building is the location that was originally home to Michelangelo’s David, nowa-days the statue that stands here is a replica, while the original is housed now at the Accademia Gallery in Florence. This move was made to preserve the original from the elements.
The final main stop on the tour before lunch was at a bridge crossing the Arno River, named Ponte Vecchio. This bridge is quite historic with records mentioning the bridge as early as 996; however it has been destroyed by floods twice and rebuilt. The view back along the riverfront of Florence from the bridge though is quite a nice outlook, and something that you can see from the viewpoint in the centre of the bridge.
Tuscany was one place that I really have wanted to see for some time, even though the visit to Florence was quite short, it helped to give me some idea of what the area is like. This is I suppose one of the benefits of taking a cruise, you get to sample quite a few places and then at a later date you can choose to make a return to visit those places that you liked again. Florence and the region of Tuscany is one of these areas that I will visit again.
If you have visited Florence I would like to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to leave a comment below.