Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A bike ride in Florence

As we have done in other major cities, we joined a guided city bike tour to see the sights and learn some history.

 Our guide today, Julia, is Italian and has done 5 years at University studying the history of Italy.
The riding today was a little less relaxing because of the crowds and the cobbled roads, coupled with some narrow streets and a few vehicles. 

At one point, Russell got bumped on the elbow by a passing van.  He couldn't go anywhere because of the parked van on the other side.  He stayed upright and no damage done.
The photo below shows 2 flood levels of the city.  The one under Di Santa Croce was the last one in 1966 when the Arno River flooded the whole city.  Since then, dams have been put in place to prevent it happening again.

Places visited today included the Duomo (another church. In fact, it is in the top 5 in size in the world.  It is quite spectacular with its decorative marble work, but not quite as spectacular inside as others.

The Medici family ruled Florence for a very long time, having 3 large residences in the city.  They were incredibly wealthy and when they said jump, it created an earthquake in the rest of the world!
They wanted an Arc de Triomph like Paris, so they had one built which formed part of one of their residences.

The building below is one of the oldest remaining in Florence.  It dates back to the 1200s.

Doors are pretty impressive right through Europe.  This one an example of grandness.

The Ponte De Vecchio below is a the only remaining original bridge to cross the Arno River.  The Medicci family had this bridge built to access their summer residence on the other side of the river.
They had a private passage that was largely unknown.

During WW2, Italy were aligned with Germany in the early stages.  Hitler visited Florence and adored the Ponte De Vecchio.  Later during the war, when Italy had changed its allegiance, it was the only bridge in Florence not bombed and destroyed.  When Germany had occupation of Italy, it is believed that many Italians flexed via the secret passage and escaped to survive.

Beautiful river scenes in the other direction too.  Along with our bikes.

We rode to the other side of the river which is now the "suburbs", where the locals live.
Our ride went back over the Ponte De Vecchio, well it was just a walk because of the crowds.

Further on, we came to the Uffizi Gallery, where there is a replica of the statue of David, along with others of Hercules , and Cosmo Medicci

The ride finished, the weather very warm and humid, so a little lazier during the afternoon.  Russell spent ages at the train station getting train tickets for Wednesday, while I did some more washing.
We followed this up with a pleasant afternoon drink.  
A day time view from our balcony.

Off to dinner, so Ciao.

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