Florence is a pretty amazing city. It is a fast-paced modern city and a magnet for tourists from all over the world,
with a wealth of artistic and architectural treasures from the Renaissance. We spent three full days in the city.

One of the true glories of Florence is its cathedral.
It was built in the fourteenth century and, in typical Tuscan style,
the whole of the exterior is lined with local marble--here, in white and pink and green.

The cathedral is known as the Duomo in Italian--a cognate of our English word "dome"--and the dome of the cathedral is impressive.
It was built by Brunelleschi, who invented his own way to support the dome's weight and to build it without scaffolding.

A climb up to the top of the dome offered magnificent views over the city.

Another of Florence's most famous sights is its main square, the Piazza della Signoria.
It is dominated by the city hall, called the Palazzo Vecchio, built in the fourteenth century.
It served as the official residence for the Medici Dukes of Florence in the sixteenth century.

All around the piazza are larger-than-life Renaissance sculptures. (It was the original location of Michaelangelo's
David, although that sculpture has since been moved into an art gallery and replaced with a modern replica.)

Here are two different views of the Ponte Vecchio or "Old Bridge" over the Arno River--also built in the fourteenth century.
It is lined with the shops that would have been built on the sides of any medieval bridge--an ideal location since everyone passed by!
You can also see the long gallery built above it as a way for the Medici dukes to walk from their palace on one side of the river
(the Uffizi Palace) to their palace on the other side of the river (the Pitti Palace) without having to mingle with the common folk!

Since the sixteenth century the Ponte Vecchio has housed the shops of the goldsmiths of Florence.

Here are photos of some of the other sights in this incredible city:

Outdoor patios to restaurants waiting the day's customers and a busy marketplace.

The stalls of the covered food market with their vast array of products.

Motorcycles for the city's inhabitants lined up along the street.

A marker showing the height of the water in the 1966 disastrous flooding of Florence, then with Joe standing below the same marker.
Many of the city's art treasures were damaged in the flood, but Florentines soon became world leaders in art restoration afterward.

It is supposed to be good luck to touch the snout of this boar outside the leather market.
(Florence has been a producer of leather goods since the Middle Ages.)

On the right, one of the few medieval towers still standing in the city center.

Another view of the Arno River, and a curious display of boar in a butcher shop (stuffed and seated at a table in Renaissance dress).

Piazza della Santissima Annunziata and Palazzo Medici Riccardi, both designed in the sixteenth century.

The churches of Santa Maria Novella (left) and San Lorenzo (right), both built in the fifteenth century.
The facade of one church has been covered in decorative marble, but work on the other stopped
before that marble facade was done, so it has only a plain and rough stone facade.

One of our favorite stops was at the Palazzo Davanzati, a fourteenth-century mansion furnished in the style of the day.
You can see that it is many stories high, built around a courtyard open to the ground floor and topped with a covered rooftop patio.
It has wonderful medieval wall paintings in some of the rooms, with small repeating designs not unlike modern wallpaper.

The interior courtyard of the Bargello Museum, our favorite of the many art museums
in Florence and which contains many sculptures of Michaelangelo.

The facade of the church of Santa Croce and its elegant cloister.


Click here to go to the second page of our photos of Florence.