Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Florence: Ponte Vecchio, River Arno & Piazzale Michelangelo

Hi and welcome.

This post is a walk along the River Arno from Ponte Vecchio. Then, after a bus ride up the hill, the view of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo. The weather truly cooperated and the afternoon light was stunning as it bathed Florence, enhancing its stunning architectural beauty.

I love this city. If you haven't been there, I hope these photos will convince you to go.

The river Arno is 241 Km long. It originates in
the Appenines and flows into the Ligurian Sea
at Marina di Pisa

The last big flood was in 1966. Part of the
embankment collapsed killing 40 people and
destroying works of art and rare books

New dams that have been built upriver have
greatly alleviated the problem of flooding.
You can see the Ponte a Santa Trinita,
first built in 1252

Che bello il Lungarno!

You can see how close the Duomo (Cathedral)
is to the river. This is the Ponte alla Carraia,
first built in 1218, it has had a colourful history
of collapses and being blown up by the Nazis.
What we can see now was rebuilt in 1948

Looking down river from the famous Ponte

Not many rivers are blue!

And here is the medieval Ponte Vecchio
(Old Bridge). It is alleged that Hitler gave
an explicit order not to destroy the bridge
during the Nazi withdrawal. All the others

The shops along the bridge were originally
butchers shops. Now they are jewellers,
art dealers and souvenir sellers

This is the narrowest point of the Arno. The
bridge first appears in a document of 996.
It was swept away on two occasions and the
present structure was built in 1345

Looking towards the source

Looking towards the sea

Fills this Libran with great pleasure!

The weir across the river

The neoclassic Chuch of San
Frediano in Cestello.
It was built in 1450

In between the "palazzi" is the Chiesa di Ognissanti
(All-Saints Church). Ognissanti was among the first
examples of Baroque architecture to appear in
Renaissance Florence

And now panoramic views of Florence and the
Arno valley from Piazzale Michelangelo which
was designed in 1869 by Florentine architect
Giuseppe Poggi

The river Arno making its way from the
mountains into Florence

The Basilica di Santa Croce. It is the largest
Franciscan Church in the World

The Synagogue of Florence was built between
1872-72 for the Sephardic Jewish community
of the city

Il Duomo as seen in so many postcards!

The vertical shot

The site of the Basilica di Sante Croce when first
chosen, was in marshland outside the city walls.
It is the burial place of some of the most illustrious
Italians, such as Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli,
Foscolo, Gentile and Rossini, thus it is known also
as the Temple of the Italian Glories

Ponte Vecchio is the first bridge.
Classic view of the river as it makes
its way to Pisa

A final view of Florence with the Duomo and
Palazzo Vecchio rising above the city.
Next time, the North Tuscan countryside

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Hi and welcome

Beautiful Florence.

The first time I came here was 1978. It takes my breath away every time I come back.

I hope you enjoy the photos, and if you have never been, go!

Piazza Santa Maria Novella A lovely square
just behind the railway station

The Church is the first great basilica in Florence,
and is the city's principal Dominican church

Silhouettes against the late
afternoon sky

Il Duomo di Firenze.
This eye-stopping Cathedral is
called Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore
Its construction was started in 1296!

It's a hard one to photograph. The
Duomo is vast but the space in
front is small. It encourages
you to find interesting angles!

There are three huge bronze
doors which date from 1899
to 1903. They are adorned
with scenes from the life of
the Madonna

A statue to the side of the door.
An archbishop, I guess

A section of the east door of the Baptistry called
"The Gates Of Paradise", crafted by Lorenzo Ghiberti
in 1400s.
The name was given after Michelangelo referred to
these doors as "fit to be the "Gates of Paradise"

A lovely building to the left of the Duomo

The central door. The mosaic
above depicts Christ enthroned
with Mary and John the Baptist.
Above in the niches are the apostles
and in the middle the Madonna
with Child

Fabulous facade on the corner of the square,
it is called La Loggia del Bigallo. Built around
1352, the Loggia was used as a shelter for lost
children and unwanted infants who were
abandoned to the care of the Company of Mercy

The Dome of the Duomo and
a small section of Giotto's Bell Tower

The Duomo was completed structurally in 1436
with the dome engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi.
It remains the largest brick dome ever constructed

Giotto's Campanile. It has a side
of 14.45 meters (47.41 ft), and
a height of 84.7 meters (277.9 ft)
The Bell Tower has seven bells

Piazza della Signoria is named
after Palazzo della Signoria,
which is also called Palazzo Vecchio

Neptune cuts a fine figure on
his fountain

David by Michelangelo

Il Palazzo Vecchio is the Town
Hall of Florence

And in the lovely narrow streets of Florence
you can find so many beautiful works of art.
The original graffiti perhaps?

Next time: grand panoramas of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Plymouth Barbican UK

Hi and welcome. I've just been on a trip to the UK and Italy. I spent two weeks in Plymouth. This blog shows you shots of Plymouth Barbican. The old harbour of Plymouth that survived the blitz during the 2nd World War

The weather wasn't great. Grey, cloudy and rainy, just as I remember it from when I was a child, but it does add atmosphere! Hope you enjoy the photos. Next time Florence, Italy

The Barbican is home to many sailing boats. While I was there the Americas Cup World Series took place in Plymouth Sound. A big coup for Plymouth. You can see sunny photos of Plymouth Hoe here

A barbican is a fortified gate, and here the
name probably derives from the gate of the
'Castle Barbican'. It no longer exists

Yachts but also old fishing boats
too. For centuries the Barbican
was home to Plymouth's fish
market and is still home to many

Walter Raleigh, Francis Drake, John Hawkins
and Captain Cook, all strolled through the
Barbican before setting off from this historic
area on their epic journeys around the world

Boats in Sutton Harbour. Cute name for the
first boat on the left

Many of the old buildings have
been renovated and turned into
pubs or restaurants

Diversity of cuisine is also in
Plymouth. Good to see the
tradition of BYO is still alive

One of the larger pubs and eating places. You
can get good real ale in these lovely pubs

The Cornish were famous for smuggling. But I
bet their neighbouring Devonians weren't shy
of the practice!

Classic scene

An older and small drinking hole

You can see Plymouth also has a "London Eye".
It wasn't there the last time I looked! Plymouth’s
60 metre high big wheel has 42 air conditioned

The Mayflower Steps from
whence the Pilgrim Fathers
set off to settle in America.
Convicts also left for Australia
from here. The flag and flowers
were left by Americas Cup competitors
to remember the victims of 9/11 on
the 10th anniversary of the tragedy

Looking across to Mt Batten. There used to
be a marine station of the RAF there. My father
worked there for many years


Captain Jasper's eating house. It all started
In 1978 when John Dudley, "The Cap'n" was
asked to help raise money for charity at
The Barbican Regatta. He built a small wooden
hut and sold BBQ'd food

The weather may be drab, but the Barbican is

Just luv Supertub!

Discrimination against hippies, but aren't
they extinct?

Typical old street in the Barbican

The sign for the Plymouth aquarium

Do come again for photos of Florence, Italy