Florence, Siena and Pisa

So, it’s about time to tell you about our Italy adventure. I am sure you don’t mind if we don’t name all the churches we have visited (there are really a lot of them) and focus a bit more pictures than on text.

A comfortable Swiss Train brought us via Milano to Florence in just about six hours. For our accommodations in Italy we decided togive home stay a try, and it’s cheaper too (through www.airbnb.com). Our hostess in Florence was Giovanna who had her apartment just 10 minutes from the train station and within walking distance of all sights. Our room was nice and clean and even had its private bath room. The only negative thing to mention was the 5 story climb we had to do several times a day. (Hazel: It’s a whooping 6 storeys up! In Singaporean standards)

After a short rest we started to explore the city. One of the many beautiful things about Florence is that virtually all sights can be reached by foot and strolling through the narrow streets is a nice experience by itself. As for the whole trip we have been lucky with the beautiful warm weather. The city presented itself with a lot of sunshine and summer-like temperatures.

Florence has about 370’000 inhabitants and is the capital of the Tuscany region. The city is famous for its culture and often considered the birthplace of the renaissance epoch. In the 15th century Florence was also one of the richest and most prosperous cities in Europe thanks to the Medici Family, who a rich banking family. A lot of this richness is still present in form of elaborately decorated churches and renaissance buildings throughout the city. The main church of Florence is the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore better known as Duomo. Like with many other churches in Italy one is always surprised how they managed to build something that impressive with only (from today’s point of view) primitive tools. For sure also Pizza and Gelato is part of the Italian culture which we couldn’t miss on our first day.

Day two turned out to be our Florence cultural day. Our first stop was the Uffizi which is the most important museum of Florence. Thanks to our pre-reserved tickets we skipped the queue and went right into the building. Already the building and its rich indoor design is impressive by itself.  The gallery is huge and contains pieces mainly for the renaissance era (and some from the late baroque epoch).  The most well-known pieces are The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli and The Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci.

After a few hours in the Uffizi (yes, it’s big) we walked to our second highlight of the day. The David by Michelangelo – yes, that’s the guy with no underpants (David and not Michelangelo for sure). Created in 1501 this sculpture is situated in the Galleria dell’Accademia although two identical copies can be found in the city. The sculpture on its podium is really impressive but as often hard to describe why this is so (one of the “you need to be there” moments).

Dinner was in a small family run restaurant which showed the best of Italian hospitality. A night stroll through the city ended our second day. Hazel ordered tomato soup, thinking that it was watery n savoury. But she was served a bowl of red mush. The red mush was very tasty thou, the tomato soup was been soaked with bread. 

The next day was declared museum-free instead we “climbed” the local hill south of the river. As you can see on the pictures the panorama view was nothing short of impressive. As all city-tourists know, exploring a city can be quite tiring and therefore we ended this day early after a nice pizza.


 Another beauty of Florence is its proximity to other great Tuscan cities such as Siena and Pisa. And so Siena was our first side trip.

Our first stop after the one hour bus ride was the Duomo and while queuing for tickets we even bumped into a former work colleague of Kevin (also in Italy the world seems to be small). The inside of the 12th century church is impressive and the eyes are sometimes almost overwhelmed by all the details and fine paintings at every corner. It even contains a sculpture by Michelangelo (he was really a busy man).

The afternoon we spent exploring the old town which is an UNESCO world heritage side. Various small streets lead to the Piazza del Campo which is the main square of the town. On this square twice a year a famous horse race is held which attracts tens of thousands of people. As there were no horses that day we decided to just enjoy the atmosphere and hang around a while in the afternoon sun.


Okay, not much to say about Pisa as we all know the main reason to go there is the leaning tower. The tower is situated next to a big church (no surprise there) and it is really leaning (no surprise either). We have to say that nevertheless we were surprised about how much you feel the skewness when you are climbing the tower. Not walking straight without having had a beer or two is indeed a strange feeling. Countless tourist were trying to pose by proping up or kicking down the tower. We even saw a few tourist laying on the grass with their legs up in the air!!!

Tired from the walking and Museums of the previous days we decided that the tower was all what we wanted to see in Pisa for that day.

Back in Florence we headed for a local festival and indulged ourselves with a Brazilian BBQ (read “a lot of meat”), which was not very Italian but very yummy. The BBQ pork ribs were to die for! Hazel was not very incline to share her food that meal. 


On our last day in Florence we started our day with a visit to the local grocery market where we stocked up on bread and Parma Ham for our short afternoon trip to Fiesole which is on the outskirt of the city. After arriving there we took a nice afternoon walk through the small village and the nearby forest where we pick-nicked and enjoyed our well-deserved Parma Ham (since then Hazel always heads for the Parma Ham in the supermarket). Legend has it that Leonardo Da Vinci tried his flying device from one of the hills in Fiesole. As the village is elevated it offered excellent views of Florence.

In summary Florence and its surrounding towns are really worthwhile a visit. Its cultural richness and easy accessibility makes it a very enjoyable city which we left with very good impressions.

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