Trip Start Oct 01, 2009
Trip End Oct 15, 2009

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Flag of Italy  , Tuscany,
Monday, October 5, 2009

How could you top Venice you say?  Florence of course! 

The home of the Renaissance and birthplace of our modern world.  So we said goodbye to Venice and boarded an ESA (high speed) train from Venice to Florence.  The train station in Venice was easy to get to via Vaparetto and the station was easy to navigate.  Glad I made my reservations on line and could board with the receiptI printed at home. 

We enjoyed the wonderful 90 minute commute to the heart of Florence and an easy taxi ride to our hotel.  Thank goodness the train had losts of spare seats.  We needed to move to the other end of the car - the end not close to the bathroom.  Evidently, they do not empty it as often as Amtrak.

The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore is the cathedral church (Duomo) of Florence, Italy, begun in 1296 in the Gothic style to the design of Arnolfo di Cambio and completed structurally in 1436 with the dome engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi. The exterior of the basilica is faced with polychrome marble panels in various shades of green and pink bordered by white and has an elaborate 19th century Gothic Revival facade by Emilio De Fabris.

The cathedral complex includes the Baptistery and Giotto's Campanile. The three buildings are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site covering the historic centre of Florence and are a major attraction to tourists visiting the region of Tuscany. The basilica is one of Italy's largest churches, and until the modern era, the dome was the largest in the world. It remains the largest brick dome ever constructed.

The cathedral is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Florence, whose archbishop is currently Giuseppe Betori.

The exterior walls are faced in alternate vertical and horizontal bands of polychrome marble from Carrara (white), Prato (green), Siena (red), Lavenza and a few other places. These marble bands had to repeat the already existing bands on the walls of the earlier adjacent baptistery the Battistero di San Giovanni and Giotto's Bell Tower. There are two lateral doors, the Doors of the Canonici (south side) and the Door of the Mandorla (north side) with works of art of Nanni di Banco, Donatello, and Jacopo della Quercia. The six lateral windows, notable for their delicate tracery and ornaments, are separated by pilasters. Only the four windows, closest to the transept, admit light; The other two are merely ornamental. The clerestory windows are round, a common feature in Italian Gothic. The floor of the church was laid in marble tiles in the 16th century.

The Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross) is the principal Franciscan church in Florence, Italy, and a minor basilica of the Roman Catholic Church. It is situated on the Piazza di Santa Croce, about 800 metres south east of the Duomo. The site, when first chosen, was in marshland outside the city walls. It is the burial place of some of the most illustrious Italians, such as Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Foscolo, Gentile, Rossini, and Marconi, thus it is
known also as the Temple of the Italian Glories (Tempio dell'Itale Glorie).

The Basilica became popular with Florentines as a place of worship and patronage and it became customary for greatly honoured Florentines to be buried or commemorated there. Some were in chapels "owned" by wealthy families such as the Bardi and Peruzzi. As time progressed, space was also granted to notable Italians from elsewhere. For 500 years monuments were erected in the church including those to as pictured Michelangelo's Tomb.

The Ponte Vecchio ("Old Bridge", Italian pronunciation: [ˈpɔnte ˈvɛkkjo])[1] is a Medieval bridge over the Arno River, in Florence, Italy, noted for still having shops built along it, as was once common. Butchers initially occupied the shops; the present tenants are jewelers, art dealers and souvenir sellers. It has been described as Europe's oldest wholly-stone, closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge,[1] but there are far older segmental arch bridges such as AlconÚtar Bridge. The Ponte Vecchio's two neighbouring bridges are the Ponte Santa TrinitÓ and the Ponte alle Grazie.

We stayed at the Antica Dimora Firenze.  This small, genteel residence conserves the personality of a traditional Florentine home. The finely-appointed bedrooms are furnished with comfortable canopy beds and elegant antique furniture. Each room has been individually designed and painted in restful colors and the hand-painted bathrooms have been decorated with careful attention to detail.  Wonderful place and great folks that ran it.
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Linda on

Just read your first 2 blog entries. We are leaving for italy December 15. We will be in italy for at least 30 days. We cannot wait, staying at the American Hotel in Venice and also Residenza Johlea, same B&B group, in Florence. Yo ur travel blog is very informative.

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