Exploring Florence

We spent 3 fabulous days in Florence, and there is so much to see. Like Venice, Florence is photogenic. It loves the camera! Enjoy some of the sights with us.

Casa Santo Nome di Gesu
Casa Santo Nome di Gesu

 

This is where we stayed in Florence – the Casa Santo Nome di Gesu. It was an excellent choice; the rooms were spacious and the interior was beautifully decorated. The rooms were simple, not luxurious, but comfortable. The prices were low, and  the staff was quite helpful.

This is the waiting area near the front of the Casa. Note the high ceilings and the beautiful windows. These are characteristic of the whole place.

the "lobby" of the Casa Santo Nome di Gesu
the “lobby” of the Casa Santo Nome di Gesu

Meeting room on first floor of Casa Santo Nome di Gesu in Florence.
Meeting room on first floor of Casa Santo Nome di Gesu in Florence.

This meeting room was right around the corner from our room on the first floor. Note the high ceilings, the nice furniture and decor. It is a very comfortable, pleasing room. There are several other similar ones on both the first and second floors.
This is the main stairway in the convent where we stayed in Florence.

main stairway, Case Santo Nome di Gesu
main stairway, Casa Santo Nome di Gesu

main staircase in Casa Santo Nome di Gesu
main staircase in Casa Santo Nome di Gesu

This is the main staircase in Casa Santo Nome di Gesu, the convent where we stayed in Florence.
This is the ceiling painting in one of the meeting rooms on the first floor.

ceiling in Casa Santo Nome di Gesu
ceiling in Casa Santo Nome di Gesu

Painting over our bed.
Painting over our bed.

This painting was hanging over our bed in our room at the convent Casa Santo Nome di Gesu.
Instead of a hotel, we selected a convent for our place to stay in Florence. We spent four nights at the Casa Santo Nome di Gesu, which was a simple but beautiful place to stay. This is a photo of their chapel.

Chapel at Casa Santo Nome di Gesu
Chapel at Casa Santo Nome di Gesu

Our group, crossing the Arno
Our group, crossing the Arno

Here is part of our group, crossing the Arno River in Florence on the way to our “Introduction to Florence” walking tour. Linda (as always) is in the lead, and behind her you can see Steve, Joyce, and Jean (partially hidden). Kelsey and Paul are in the back, and Julia is back there with them, I’m sure. Karen and Doree did not make this trip.

Steve walks the baby
Steve walks the baby

Julia always needs her baby carriage, but she often doesn’t want to use it. So she gets carried, and somebody else gets to wheel the carriage. This time it was Steve’s turn.
It was a nice morning and the Arno crossing was especially beautiful.

Crossing the Arno, Thursday morning in Florence
Crossing the Arno, Thursday morning in Florence

This is a typical street in the central area of Florence.
This is a typical street in the central area of Florence.

This is a typical street in the central area of Florence. Several things to note:
– the architecture of the buildings
– the use of every possible inch of parking space
– the narrow width; and this one is more wide than most!
– the number of people walking; and this street is emptier than most!
– the absence of signs; it’s often quite difficult to learn what street you are on, or to locate a certain address
– the sidewalks; this street has really wide ones. Many times they are two feet wide, or less
It’s fun to walk the streets of central Florence and just check out the shop windows. Shopkeepers work hard to make them attractive.

Sewing and fabric shop window
Sewing and fabric shop window

belts on display
belts on display

Street vendors abound throughout central Florence, and displays like this one sit out on many sidewalks. I snapped this one near the entrance to the Ponte Vecchio.
This boar sits just outside one of the many market squares in central Florence. Tradition says that if you rub his nose, you’ll come back to Florence. So he has a shiny nose.

Bronze boar with lucky nose
Bronze boar with lucky nose

mugs in a shop window
mugs in a shop window

mugs in a shop window
The latest fashions are on display in the Florence shop windows.

Fancy shoes in shop window
Fancy shoes in shop window

street scene near the Accademia
street scene near the Accademia

Here’s the mob of people lined up to get into the Accademia so that they can see Michelangelo’s David, just as our tour group exits that museum. 
A perfect view of the Ponte Vecchio and nearby buildings from the next bridge down.

reflection view of the Ponte Vecchio and the Arno
reflection view of the Ponte Vecchio and the Arno

The "street" of the Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence.
The “street” of the Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence.

Looking up the Ponte Vecchio from the northern entry point, it doesn’t look like a bridge at all. It’s just another street with shops. And tons of people.
This is the shopping scene on the Ponte Vecchio. All of the shops on the bridge are selling jewelry and other precious items.

Shops on Ponte Vecchio
Shops on Ponte Vecchio

Shop window in Ponte Vecchio
Shop window in Ponte Vecchio

This is one of the shop windows in the Ponte Vecchio. I want that pencil cup.
This is the only river view possible from the Ponte Vecchio. And it’s partially blocked by a row of plants.

Ponte Vecchio view
Ponte Vecchio view

Shop window in the Ponte Vecchio
Shop window in the Ponte Vecchio

Shop window in the Ponte Vecchio
Gasoline is very expensive in Europe, so bicycles and motorcycles are very popular. Unfortunately there are no lanes for them, so they are constantly weaving in and around cars and pedestrians, showing little mercy and less sense. Apparently it is almost as difficult to find a place to park your bike as it is for your car.

Motorcycles and bicycles
Motorcycles and bicycles

Steve and Gelateria
Steve and Gelateria

Here Steve is demonstrating one of our favorite activities – visiting a Gelateria. We had gelato every day, sometimes more than once. It is so good!
We saw many, many signs with the “eria” suffix. Any shop that sells anything can be a “eria.” A gallery becomes “galleria.” A pasticceria is a sweet shop. A place to buy perfume is a profumeria. A restaurant is a trattoria. You get the idea.

Gelateria sign
Gelateria sign

Stone mosaic flower portrait
Stone mosaic flower portrait

We visited this stone mosaic shop with our tour guide and they showed us how they use precious and semi-precious stones to make these beautiful mosaics. They look like paintings but they are actually all made of stone. The craftsmen were in the store, and you could watch them being made. The results are stunningly beautiful but very expensive. Joyce bought a little one. (I snapped this photo from the sidewalk before hearing that photos were not allowed.)
This is the stone mosaic that Joyce bought at the store where they make them. 

Joyce's stone mosaic
Joyce’s stone mosaic

pretty door
pretty door

I don’t know what this door leads to, but I thought is was especially attractive. Look at the designs in the archway, and the pillars.

Carousel in Piazza della Repubblicca
Carousel in Piazza della Repubblicca

For a short period of time in the 19th century, Florence was the capital of Italy. During that time some major changes were made; most of the city walls were torn down, and they put up a triumphal arch (as seen in Paris) in their newly created Piazza de la Repubblicca. Within the piazza they installed this carousel (also like Paris).
The church of Santa Croce in Florence, Italy.

The church of Santa Croce in Florence, Italy.
The church of Santa Croce in Florence, Italy.

Santa Croce church
Santa Croce church

Walking alongside the Santa Croce church we saw the first wheelchair we’d seen in Florence. Apparently Italians who have trouble walking just have to stay home. I was pleased to see a ramp – a rare thing in Italy – on the side of this church.
Here Karen poses beside a sculpture out in front of the Santa Croce church. It’s pretty big.

Karen at Santa Croce church
Karen at Santa Croce church

Tourists pass by the Duomo in Florence, Italy.
Tourists pass by the Duomo in Florence, Italy.

Tourists pass by the Duomo in Florence, Italy. It’s hard to get a picture of the Duomo – except for the dome on top – because it is so huge and the space around it is so narrow. Walking by it is an overwhelming experience.
The bell tower of Florence’s cathedral dwarfs Karen as she stands beside it.

Karen by bell tower of Duomo
Karen by bell tower of Duomo

Duomo doors
Duomo doors

Doors of the Florence cathedral, or Duomo as it is called.
Detail of one of the doors to the Duomo

Detail of one of the doors to the Duomo
Detail of one of the doors to the Duomo

Corner sculpture on Duomo
Corner sculpture on Duomo

On the corner of the Duomo, this man watches the tourists pass by.
doorway in Florence

doorway in Florence
doorway in Florence

Karen and I had lunch here just before our tour of the Uffizi Gallery.
Karen and I had lunch here just before our tour of the Uffizi Gallery.

Karen and I had lunch here just before our tour of the Uffizi Gallery.  I set my iPhone down on the table here and walked away from it when lunch was over. Less than a block away I missed it, went back and it was gone. I looked up and one of the servers handed it to me, without a word. I thanked her and left.
This is a bad photo, but the only one I got to identify the house wine at Le Fonticine restaurant. This is where we ate dinner on Thursday night in Florence.

Le Fontecine wine
Le Fontecine wine

The left side of the table at Le Fontecine
The left side of the table at Le Fontecine

Doree, Jean, Steve, Kelsey, and Julia await their food at Le Fontecine restaurant in Florence.
Paul, Joyce, and Linda. The seat between Joyce and Linda was set for Bob Mulkey, our friend from Salem Alliance Church who now lives in Italy. He was supposed to meet us for dinner but didn’t make it because of the failure of Italy’s train system. Karen didn’t make it either, because of pain in her knee.

Right side of table at Le Fontecine
Right side of table at Le Fontecine

Dave and Doree at Le Fonticine
Dave and Doree at Le Fonticine

Dave and Doree at Le Fonticine
This was my dinner order at Le Fontecine. It’s wild boar, in a delicious sauce. On the right are sweet onions which have been marinated and are really sweet.

Wild boar dish at Le Fontecine
Wild boar dish at Le Fontecine

The taxi line at Florence train station
The taxi line at Florence train station

When we arrived in Florence the rain was pouring down (thunder and lightning even) and we had to scrap our plan to walk. So did everyone else, and as a result the taxis were overwhelmed with business. It took over an hour to get through this line, because there were so few taxis available.
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