Sunday, November 8, 2015

Visits to Florence and Milan

The final segment of our Northern Italy adventure began early with another train ride to Florence from La Sepzia.

Our hotel in Florence was right on the Arno River's edge.
This was the view across the river from the balcony for our room.

We arrived at our hotel, Plaza Hotel Lucchesi just in time to catch a short downpour. Instead of taking our architectural tour that afternoon we quickly changed it to the next morning.  So we wandered around the city just enjoying the cool damp air.

Coming from Bahrain, the damp rain was a treat.

D is in the blue poncho and ES is in the green poncho. The dome for the cathedral is at the end of the street.

At sunset we went to the roof of the hotel to see if they had a view. I had heard the roof had a good view but I was still surprised.  One of the best views in Florence was on the roof of our hotel.  AMAZING!!!

Our first sunset in Florence.
That's a pool with a view!

The hotel had set up a frame for the perfect "Postcard" photo. I had fun shooting from all angles. 
I have to admit, it was a great idea to have the frame set up so you could take your own postcard shot.

After some great photos and wine, we ventured to the other side of the Arno River and had a wonderful meal in a local tavern. There was a taxi strike going on so we walked over and walked home again. 

Wandering around the old stone streets at night was great fun.
Check out the eyelashes on this little car.
Once again, our meal was fantastico!
I knew the morning sun would give us a perfect view of Florence from the roof of the hotel, so early the next morning we all met on the roof terrace for some pictures.  

It was my mom’s birthday so we took a photo of the rooftops holding a birthday greeting. The only problem was alerting her to check her email. She does not check email very often and I did not want to miss the opportunity to wish her a wonderful birthday.

Our architectural tour was again amazing. We wandered the streets of Florence looking up at the towers and stonework. Gothic architecture abounded.

Our guide, Aniko was wonderful.
Seems like I always take photos when everyone is looking up. 

One interesting fact that Aniko shared with us was the use of small openings in the walls of homes to sell wine.  These were called wine tabernacles or wine holes.  Here is a great article about the little doors and how they came in to being.  We saw them all over the place and kept hoping to find one that had some wine.  LOL

The small curved opening to the left of the door is the wine tabernacle.
Here is a wine tabernacle below a religious shrine.

When we reached the end of our tour in the plaza at the Accademia Gallery where Michelangelo’s David resides, I started to think Florence had almost as much charm as Venice. The architecture was impressive. The statues and fountains were unbelievable.

Our selfie with Michelangelo's David. 

Leather roses - the leather shops were abundant.

After a day of visiting the sites in Florence, my legs were worn out (still EXTREMELY sore from the long trek along the Cinque Terre). 

Doug wanted to climb to the top of the Il Duomo di Firenze (Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flowers) but the rest of us begged off.  He headed up the 800+ stairs while the three of us sat and drank wine at a cafĂ© in the piazza.

At the top of the cathedral is one of the Renaissance's great masterpieces, the Duomo's cupola. It was built between 1420 and 1436. 

Over four million bricks were used to construct the dome, all of them laid in consecutive rings according to a vertical herringbone pattern. The final product is 91m high and 45.5m wide. 

It is the largest brick dome in the world. I could certainly understand why my dear structural engineer husband wanted to see it up close.

We could see the brick dome from the roof of our hotel. It was extremely impressive.

Inside the dome.
The climb up the spiral staircase is relatively steep, and should not be attempted if you are claustrophobic. 

As you climb, snapshots of Florence can be spied through small windows. 

The final leg – a straight, somewhat hazardous flight up the curve of the inner dome – rewards with an unforgettable 360-degree panorama of one of Europe's most beautiful cities.

Hubby D took several photos at the top and I almost wish I had gone.
Read more:

That evening we enjoyed sunset on the roof again then ventured back to the old section of town. We ate one of the best meals of the trip at a local restaurant. It was over-the-top expensive, but fabulous.

Sunset with wine on the gorgeous roof of our hotel.
Fried zucchini flowers for an appetizer.

Very early the next morning, Hubby D and I left for Milan and our return flight to Bahrain. ES and NS were off to drive through Tuscany.

After we arrived in Milan and checked into our hotel, Uptown Palace Hotel we wandered around a bit. Finding ourselves at the Piazza del Duomo of Milan ("Cathedral Square"), we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon there. 

According to Wikipedia, this square is the main piazza (city square) of Milan, Italy. It is named after, and dominated by, the Milan Cathedral (the Duomo). 

The piazza marks the center of the city, both in a geographic sense and because of its importance from an artistic, cultural, and social point of view. Rectangular in shape, with an overall area of about 183,000 sq ft, the piazza includes some of the most important buildings of Milan (and Italy in general), as well some of the most prestigious commercial activities.

A photo taken of the piazza in 1909.

The Milan Duomo was built over nearly 600 hundred years in a number of contrasting styles and the quality of the workmanship varies markedly. Reactions to it have ranged from admiration to disfavour.

It is the 5th-largest church in the world and the second largest in Italy.

When Hubby D and I first saw it, we both said, “Fourteen Century Architect Gone Wild.”

We ended our evening on a roof-top bar overlooking the piazzo sipping cocktails as the sun slipped behind the ancient buildings. The evening shadow crept up the side of the Duomo and daylight finally bid us farewell.  

I have posted several videos from Florence and Milan on my blog. If you would like to see them, here is the link. Just click on "Video of Italy."  

It was a fitting end to a breathtaking trip to Italy.

Grazie to Italy and all the wonderful architecture. Grazie to our friends ES and NS for providing us the great information that made our trip the perfect adventure. Grazie to Hubby D for all the romance and beautiful memories I have of Northern Italy.

Molte Grazie for the adventure!


P.S. A very special GRAZIE to ES and NS for providing us with the motivation to go to Northern Italy, for taking us down the Cinque Terre trail and for making our trip the perfect adventure.

NS and ES at lunch in a wonderful outdoor restaurant in Florence.

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