S: Italy Trip, Volume 2
BC: On to Pisa
FC: Tuscany Florence, Montecatini Term,Lucca
1: Hotel Rivoli
2: The Ponte alla Carraia is a five-arched bridge spanning the River Arno. The bridge was originally built in 1220, reconstructed in 1274 and 1333 due to flooding and again after it was destroyed by the retreating Germans during the Second World War in 1944.
3: Pick your mode of transportation in Florence; Drive, ride, pedal or walk | The Column of Justice, a Roman shaft originally from the Baths of Caracalla with the statue of Justice on the top in the center of the Piazza Santa Trinita.
4: Church o Santo Spirito -- Built to be a twin to S. Lorenzo Church, but the facade was never finished. The interior is one of the finest examples of Renaissance architecture Open air vendor market at Piazza S. Spirito. | Open air vendor market at Piazza S. Spirito.
5: Palazzo Pitti Medici palace dates to 1457. Now contains the Royal apartments, the Palatine Gallery, the Gallery of Modern Art, the Museo degli Argenti and the Museo delle Carrozze. The Boboli Gardens behind the Palazzo Pitti were commissioned in 1549. Among the sights are the Buontalenti’s Grotto, the Amphitheater with the Roman Basin and the Egyptian Obelisk at the center and Neptune’s Fishpond
6: Inside Palazzo Pitti atrium. Through the arch are the Boboli Gardens.
7: Inside the arch is a fountain and painted ceiling.
8: The original Ponte alle Grazie was constructed in 1227. It was rebuilt in 1345 with nine arches. Two of the arches were filled in during 1347 in order to widen piazza dei Mozzi. Structures were built on the bridge but these were eventually abandoned and were removed in 1876 to make way for railway track. In August 1944, the bridge was destroyed by the Nazi army as they withdrew in World War II. The new bridge was completed in 1953. While the new design is harmonious with the surrounding city, its modern design and construction materials do not reflect its predecessor.
9: The Ponte of Santa Trinita (Holy Trinity) bridge, is the oldest elliptic arch bridge in the world. The bridge was constructed from 1567 to 1569. Its site, downstream of the equally remarkable Ponte Vecchio, is a major link in the medieval street plan of Florence, which has been bridged at this site since the thirteenth century. The wooden bridge of 1252 was swept away in a flood seven years later and was rebuilt in stone and destroyed in a flood in 1333. The bridge of five arches was destroyed in the flood of 1557. Four ornamental statues of the Seasons were added to the bridge in 1608, as part of the wedding celebrations of Cosimo II De Medici with Maria Magdalena of Austria. On August 8, 1944, the bridge was destroyed by retreating German troops, but reconstructed in 1958 with original stones raised from the Arno or taken from the same quarry.
10: The Ponte Vecchio Bridge, the oldest in Florence, spans the Arno River at its narrowest point where it is believed that a bridge was first built in Roman times. The Roman piers of the Ponte Vecchio Bridge were made of stone and the superstructure of wood. The bridge first appears in a document of 996. After being destroyed by a flood in 1117 it was reconstructed in stone but swept away again in 1333. It was rebuilt in 1345. It is also the only bridge that was not destroyed during the retreat of the Germans allegedly by an express order by Hitler. The bridge consists of three segmental arches: the main arch has a span of 98 ft the two side arches each span 88 ft. Butchers initially occupied the shops; the present tenants are jewelers, art dealers and souvenir sellers. Above the shops is the Vasari’s Corridor which allowed Cosimo I to reach Palazzo Pitti from Palazzo Vecchio without running any risks by walking among the people.
11: Meeting our tour group in the middle of the Ponte Vecchio Bridge to begin our tour of Florence.
13: Uffizi Gallery was commissioned by Cosimo I De’ Medici for administrative and judicial offices for Florentine magistrates in 1560 and took 20 years to complete. Medici died before it was finished and his son, believed it too nice for offices, turned it into an art gallery which now holds paintings and sculptures.
14: Palazzo Vecchio is the town hall of Florence. Building begun in 1294 as a Palace-Fortress, the tower was added in 1310. Modifications were made between 1343 and 1592 include the nine coats of arms of the city communes under the arches. Although most of the palace is a museum, it still remains the symbol of local government. It has housed the office of the mayor of Florence since 1872, and it is the seat of the City Council.
15: Neptune fountain, statues of David, Hercules and Cacus at the entrance to Palazo Vecchio, located in the Piazza della Signoria.
16: Looking into the Loggia Dei Lanzi from Piazza delle Signoria with statues of Persus, Hercules and the Centaur.
17: Statue Rape of the Sabines, first to use movement in statue with spiral carving. Statue of Persus, and the back side showing the face of the sculptor on the back of the head.
18: Equestrian statue of Cosimo I De’ Medici Grand Duke of Tuscany is situated in the center of the square of Piazza della Signoria, and the Palazzo Vecchio where he lived. | Different views of the Piazza.
19: Part of the corridor built for the Medici family to travel from Palazzo Vecchio to Palazzo Pitti. | To avoid taxes, they expanded rooms overhead. | Located in the Loggia del Mercato Nuovo (straw market Il Porcellino), is the lucky pig which was. It is said that if you rub the snout of the pig, it will bring you good luck.
20: The Baptistery of San Giovanni was originally built in the 4th – 5th centuries near the north gate of Roman Florence. Its current appearance dates to the 11th – 13th centuries. Octagonal in shape, the exterior is faced with green and white marble. Particular striking are the three sets of bronze doors with their biblical scenes. In order to enter the Duomo (church), one had to have been baptized. Baptisms only took place on Easter Sunday.
21: The most famous of the three doors, are the east doors or Gates of Paradise. They are divided into ten panels which depict Stories from the Old Testament. Portraits of the artists are found in the frame around the panels. | Angels appear at the Sacrifice of Isaac | Joseph sold to the merchants
22: The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore is dedicated to the young saint who died a martyr in Caesarea. When the seventh century church of Santa Reparata could no longer contain Florence’s growing Christian community, Cambio was commissioned to design a cathedral to be built right over it. Work began on the new Duomo in 1296, continued until 1375 when the Santa Reparata was torn down and the original design was altered until construction of the dome could be designed. The church was consecrated in 1436 The unfinished facade of the Duomo was torn down in 1587. In 1871, a design was approved for the new facade and work was completed in 1887. The facade uses the same type of marble previously used in the rest of the building – carrara white, Prato green and Marmma pink, and was done in 19th –century Gothic style.
24: Above the three portals with Stories of Mary are three lunettes with, Charity, the Madonna with the Patron Saints of the City, and Faith; the pediment over the central portal has a Madonna in Glory. The statues of the Apostles and of Mary are set in the frieze that runs between the rose windows at the sides and the one in the center.
26: 518 feet long by 125 feet across the nave and aisles and 295 feet across at the transept
27: The Italian Gothic architecture shows a strong feeling for vertical and horizontal space.
28: Giotto's Campanile was built from 1334 to 1359 under three architects. It stands 278 feet on a base of 47 feet square and houses seven bells.
29: Referring to the Pantheon in Rome, a concrete, single shell dome was not feasible due to it large size, 171 feet above the floor and spanning 144 feet. Brunelleschi choose to use a double shell, of sandstone and marble. The airy dome employed ribbing with tie beams and bricks set in herringbone patterns. | The octagonal lantern is crowned with a gilt copper ball and cross containing holy relics. This brings the dome and lantern to 375 feet.
30: Gelato time. Mmmmm gooood. | Tthe Ospedale degli Innocenti, commissioned in 1419, was originally a children's orphanage, There was a door with a special rotating horizontal wheel that brought the baby into the building without the parent being seen. This allowed people to leave their babies, anonymously, to be cared for by the orphanage. | The equestrian statue of Ferdinando I dei Medici, located in Piazza SS. Annunziata, is practically a twin the one of Cosimo I in the Piazza della Signoria.
31: Palazzo dell'Arte della Lana, completed in 1308, was the wool guild of Florence and saw all the processes from the raw baled wool through the final cloth.
32: Scenes between Montecatini Terme and Florence (opposite page) | Passing through Proto, home of the biscotti. | Waiting for the train at Montecatini Terme
34: Santa Maria Novella Began construction in 1246 and completed in the mid 14th century. The facade was remodeled between 1456 and 1470.
36: The Bargello (castle) with the tower of Volognana is counterbalanced by the Campanile of the Badia. The Bargello housed the police chief and was employed as a prison; executions took place in the court yard until they were abolished by in 1786, but it remained the headquarters of the Florentine police until 1859 and it then became a national museum.
37: The Basilica di Santo Croce (Holy Cross) is the largest Franciscan church in the world and a minor basilica of the Roman Catholic Church. Its most notable features are its sixteen chapels, many of them decorated with frescoes by Giotto and his pupils, and its tombs and cenotaphs. It is the burial place of some of the most illustrious Italians, such as Michelangelo, Galileo, and a monument to Florence Nightingale. Construction of the current church, to replace an older building, was begun on 12 May 1294 and was consecrated in 1443.
39: In keeping with the Franciscan tradition, the interior is simple and stately. Walls which once were covered with frescoes are now lined with tombs and monuments. The floor is covered with old tombstones for the entire length of the nave which has a trussed timber ceiling.
42: The tomb of Michelangelo | The monument to Galileo
43: Marble pulpit by Benedetto da Maiano
45: The Pazzi Chapel and Museo di S. Croce
46: The Arno River
47: Porta S. Miniato, gate in the road, to piazzale Michelangelo
48: Forte di Belvedere was built on the hilltop for strategic military purposes is now used for important international exhibitions.
50: Views overlooking Florence
51: Ponte Vecchio Bridge
53: Basilica di Santo Croce | Biblioteca Nazionale
54: Palazzi Vecchio | Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo)
56: The Israelite Temple, inaugurated in 1882, is the symbol of liberation from the ghetto.
58: Views of Florence from Piazzale Michelangiolo
60: Chiesa di San Salvatore This Franciscan church dedicated to St. Cosmas and St.Damian was paid for the the rich merchant Castello Quaratesi and by the Calimala Guild, whose symbol dominates the facade. | Called by Michelangelo the "comely peasant girl", the church has a simple aisle-less nave with side chapels, and a sober decoration in pietra forte.
61: The | Among the more interesting works of art are the early 16th century stained glass, two 15th or 16th century wooden "Crucifixes" and panel-paintings by Giovanni da Ponte, Neri di Bicci, Rossello di Jacopo Franchi and the school of Fra Bartolomeo.
63: Church of S. Miniato Al Monte (constructed 1013 to 1207) is a basilica standing atop one of the highest points in Florence, described as one of the finest Romanesque structures in Tuscany. There is an adjoining Olivetan monastery. The present site was built on the site of a 4th century chapel. Adjacent to the basilica is the Monumental Cemetery (known as "of the Holy Gates").
65: on to Montecatini Terme | Hotel Albergo Belvedere
66: Outside the hotel Albergo Belvedere | Looking up to Montecatini Alto from our hotel .
67: For centuries, Montecatini's hot springs have been identified as a center for regeneration, well-being and beauty; and these extraordinary gifts come from the waters spouting from the depths of the earth. | Terme Tettuccio is a famous spa in Montecatini Terme. Tettuccio refers to a small roof built in antiquity that was found over the spring that feeds the spa.
68: Downtown Montecatini Terme
69: Bunker built during World War II
70: Downtown Montecatini Terme | Our tour guides, Christian and Raymond
72: The funicular opened in 1898 and has two coaches: Gigio & Gigia. It is one of the oldest operating funicular in the world and reaches upward to the heart of the old uptown on a breathtakingly steep track. The track is 1,050 meters (3,445 feet) long with a 202 meter (663 feet) rise which, in its final steepest point, reaches a 38.5% slant.
74: Our ride in the the funicular to Montecatini Alto
77: Montecatini Alto is the original Montecatini settlement, lying a few hundrd metres above the 'new' town. The views from here are splendid, and the delightful Piazza Giusti is home to some good bars and restaurants.
79: Pieve di San Pietro
81: Inside Pieve di San Pietro
82: Tramontana Castle, Rock of the Old Castle, in Montecatini Alto
83: The bells of the Bell Tower
85: Scenic views from Montecatini Alto
86: Lucca is a city in Tuscany, Central Italy, situated on the river Serchio in a fertile plain near the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Lucca. | The city walls enclose the old town; they're the best-preserved Renaissance defense ramparts in Europe. The present walls, measuring 115 ft at the base and 40 ft high, replaced crumbling ramparts built during the middle ages.
87: The walls were never used to defend the town from enemy attacks. It became precious in 1812 when it saved Lucca from being swept away by a flood.
88: Street views of Lucca
89: The Church of San Paolino was built in the early 1500's and entitled to Lucca's first bishop. | Guacomo Puccini (1858 - 1924) was an Italian composer of opera. | St. Michael Church
90: A church on this site has been documented since 795 but the present San Michele (Michael) in Foro dates mainly from the 12th century (1143 onward). The marble facade is an example of the style and flair the the Lucchese brought to the Pisan Romanesque school of architecture.
91: The west front is spanned by seven ground level arches and then surmounted by four tiers of galleries, using imaginatively designed columns. Dragon-slaying St Michael, wings outstretched, rests on the friezelike peak of the final tier. The pizza outside which was once the old Roman forum.
92: A narrow gray band decorated with inlaid geometric shapes and a few creatures connects the lower and upper facades. The blind arches are supported by a variety of little marble columns. Some are carved with zigzags, some have been inlaid with darker marble to create intricate designs, and some are covered in whimsical sculptures. A menagerie of real and mythical animals in white inlaid marble against a dark green marble background.
93: Santo feast day in September is when the crucifix (normally in the Duomo) bearing the "face" of Christ is hauled through town in a candlelit procession to commemorate its miraculous journey to Lucca.
94: Church of S. Giusto, with Romanesque facade, built in the 16th century, is the most ancient example in Lucca of a palace with central courtyard and loggia. The main door is decorated by a large lintel carved in pinewood (12th-13th century). | Church of S. Gionanni was Lucca's first cathedral until the 8th century. Recent excavations have uncovered the original floor with the base of the pillars and the crypt (5th-6th century)
95: Palazzo Micheletti is an admirable example of environmental respect and perfect urban positioning ordered in the second half of the 16th century. | The use of the ashlar-work marks the doors, windows, lintels and building corners. | The church of S. Giovanni is seen in the background.
96: The facade of the Cathedral of San Martino remains unfinished lacking the last row of small loggias and the tympanum. The asymmetry is derived from the right arch being much smaller the the other two. The facade in the only authentic Romanesque part and it is the most original and significant part of the church.
97: The central portal, the lunette shows Christ rising to Heaven between two angles; on the lintel, the Apostle and Mary attending the Ascension
98: The streets of Lucca.
101: Special dinner at the former Medici Villa (in the stables).