Venice, Florence and Siena, we gave them a day each – long enough for general impressions only – but the crush of other tourists made it quite sufficient. All three are World Heritage Sites - Italy unsurprisingly has more than any other country in the world.
Mum and I had been here on our European odyssey (in fact to all three of these cities) and back then I had considered it the most romantic city ever - not the sort of place I really wanted to be with me Mum (no offence Mum). But Zeke was instantly un-impressed with the place, reckoned the buildings were run-down, dirty and shabby, and even though the boats were great he couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. And seeing it through his eyes he certainly has a point, many of the city’s buildings appear to have some serious problems.
|The Grand Canal is still magnificent with the church of Santa Maria della Salute in the background, and I’m smiling coz this time I was there with my sweet-heart.|
|And the Plaza St Marco is still a fabulous urban space.|
|Zeke just couldn’t resist pushing a few over.|
|The boats we all loved, delivery boats, garbage truck boats, gondolas ...|
|... but somebody should tell this gondolero that answering your mobile phone on the job doesn’t quite fit the image.|
Florence is the traditional home of the Medici family, one of Europe’s most wealthy and successful dynasties, and through the Renaissance they were great patrons of the arts. Much of the fabulously rich artistic inheritance still on display in this city can be directly or indirectly attributed to them.
|The Boboli Gardens, the gardens of the Medici family residence.|
|The jewellery shop lined Ponte Vecchio, the covered bridge across the Arno |
that links the Medici family residence with the centre of town. It used to have stinky butcher shops on it, but under Medici orders they had to go!
|Above the city at the Piazzale Michelangelo is this copy of David, the original being carved from a single enormous block of fine white Carrara marble by Michelangelo in 1504 when he was just 29 years old.|
|The view across the city from the Piazzale Michelangelo.|
|The Piazza Della Signoria, where the original David stood until 1873. It is now protected in a museum and another copy stand in its place. The amazing tower, the 94m Torre d’Arnolfo was completed in 1340.|
A medieval hilltop town (though it has grown so much in recent years it’s hard to pick), Siena’s houses are a symphony in shades of pink, orange, brown and yellow, baking under the Tuscan sun.
|The colour sienna.|
|Some of the town’s shop displays are exceptional.|
|Piazza del Campo, site of the town’s famous horse race!|
|I was more appreciative of some of the tiny backstreets away from the crowds.|
|Siena street lighting!|
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