Before I left Bologna, I wanted to at least SEE some of the city. From my hotel, I took a circular route around town. Whatever was in my path, I stopped to see!
What an impressive gate! I wonder how far back it dates.
As usual, churches are always outstanding. I loved the colors in this one.
I also loved the small statues tucked into the facade.
On the opposite side, the church had battlements. Interesting.
Another (surprise, surprise) lovely church.
Was this a mini bell tower?
I tucked down this street for a moment to take a picture. It just looked so inviting!
How's this for cool? A place just perfect...
... for parking two wheeled vehicles, even though it's a LOT older than motorized bicycles!
That gate from a different angle. Look at the detail on the roof!
Just before it was time to ride out of Bologna, I came across this castle but had nowhere to stop. Solution: take a quick picture in the rear view! :)
The ride from Bologna to Florence was pretty. There were still changes in elevation but they were quite a bit gentler. The hillsides were covered with agricultural fields.
At the turnout where I stopped to take the picture.
In no time, I was in Florence at Salesiani dell Immacolata...
... a high school complete with dormitories, an urban playground...
... and a neighbouring church.
I dumped my bags then went down the street to catch a bus to downtown Florence. What should I come across but the Apple Store, Italian style.
Thus, ladies and gentlemen, my first look at the Apple iPad was "in Italian"!
Once I got off the bus, I walked down Via Ricasoli towards...
... the Duomo.
This is one terribly impressive building.
It has huge carved wooden doors...
... with intricate detailing...
... and door knobs you're not going to find at any hardware store.
It has towers...
... and domes and...
... it's decorated...
with green and red marble.
Many different reliefs and some Coats of Arms!
The stone columns are "sculpted"... very fancy!
The main doorway is spectacular...
Beautiful bronze reliefs decorate it top to bottom.
You're so overwhelmed by the doors themselves that you're likely to miss the rich detail in the arch above.
Across the street, done in striped white and green marble...
... is the Battistero di San Giovanni.
It has golden (guilded bronze) doors called the Gates of Paradise.
This panel depicts the story of David.
This panel depicts the story of Joseph. The panels were created by Lorenzo Ghiberti during the 15th century.
The north door of the Baptistry is at least two stories high.
The door is covered with gorgeous bronze reliefs...
... also created by Lorenzo Ghiberti.
Near the north entrance to the Baptistry.
A lovely old clock which told time quite nicely, thank you very much.
Since motorized traffic is not allowed in these areas, carriage rides are a natural fit.
This little piggy certainly catches your eye and leads you into the barre where excellent food is available. I know because I ate lunch there.
From the Duomo, I walked down Via Camillo Cavour where I met up with Dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-dah, Dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-dah...
... Batman!
I also went in here because on the door, they said they could help the (lowly) tourista with anything!
And I needed help! I needed to charge the SIM card on my phone but I was having trouble finding a place to do it. Andrea, pictured here, was MORE than helpful. Not only did he find me a place to do this (not as easy as you might think), but he directed me to my next stop (Galleria dell'Accademia), AND upon my return to this street, he helped me load the credit into the phone (again, not as easy as it sounds when a taped voice is prompting you in 100 kph Italian).
A door knocker along Via Camillo Cavour.
A wooden bicycle built from Leonardo da Vinci "blueprints".
Inside, there were other models of da Vinci design but unfortunately, a tour wasn't available at the time.
Mario of Altrimondi who makes handmade silver jewellery. Hmmm... wonder who bought one of his silver rings...
Some of Mario's creations.
On the first street outside the "pedestrian traffic" only zone, buses are plentiful but notice that the parking spots are designed for scooters and motorcycles only.
My interest in this door? The inscription done in Roman script above it...


I guess in 1784 Petrus was a doctor of liberal arts. Now this building houses the Accademia di Belle Arti a.k.a. Galleria dell'Accademia which houses Michaelangelo's David.

I waited in line for admission with these two young people who took my picture with David...
... OK, bad joke... but really, who would wear one of these except to joke around??

I wish I could have taken a picture of the REAL David. He is absolutely awe-inspiring. To me, the next most impressive thing in the Galleria were the musical instruments including a Stradivarius violin and viola. I ached to pick them up to hear their strings reverberate. Also in the Galleria were many large "iconic" paintings from churches.

On the way out of the Galleria, these wallets and handbag caught my eye...
Braccialini is a VERY impressive handbag and accessory store and I DEFINITELY would have bought something there if I could have afforded it!! Even their website is impressive:
On my way back to Piazza del Duomo I came across Hannibal Lector. Luckily he was tied up at the time and I successfully escaped his presence!!!
Other interesting things I saw on my way back... this doorknob...
... tihs mosaic elephant...
... and paper dresses! This dress was made of crepe flowers.
This one of cardboard, poster style.
This one was also poster board...
... and my favourite was made of flower seed packets.
Along Via Camillo Cavour, I came across this gated courtyard.
When they opened the gates, they invited me in. Later I found out this was Palazzo Medici Riccardi (1460).
After passing the Duomo once again...
... I went down Via dei Calzaioli where there were more stores along the way with impressive goods.
Other interesting details along the way... this intercom system...
... these great doors...
... and Orsanmichele Chiesa e Museo.
Via dei Calzaioli runs into Piazza della Signoria featuring the Palazzo Vecchio with...
... Fontana del Nettuno right beside it.
... and his nymphs.
An Italian lion with the French Fleur de Lis.
A little gruesome but well sculpted.
In front of the entrance to the Palazzo is a copy of David.
Although this version is impressive, he's doesn't inspire the awe of the real thing.
He does cast a large shadow though! :)
On the other side of the entrance to the Palazzo.
Statua equestre di Cosimo I de' Medici just north (left) of the Fontana del Nettuno.
They sure like gruesome statues in this Piazza! This one is housed in the Loggia della Signoria west of the Palazzo Vecchio.
This and the next three pictures are of other statues in the Loggia.
As I walked along the courtyard of the Galleria degli Uffizi, I saw many artists drawing their surroundings and also portraits. I thought this artist was capturing his subject quite well.
The Galleria degli Uffizi celebrates many famous Italian artists and scholars in sculpted form.
... and Donatello to name two.
When you exit the Galleria degli Uffizi courtyard, you find yourself along the river.
A covered walkway leads you to...
... Ponte Vecchio.
Ponte Vecchio should really be called Ponte Oro for all the gold shops it houses!
Although their are "residences" above the shops, I learned that they are no longer occupied.
The amount of gold (oro) you see in the windows of all the shops could finance a trip to the moon.
This necklace and bracelet could finance AT LEAST two more trips to Italy. Not saying I wouldn't buy them if I won a lottery though! :)
Anyone for blue tones?
"Tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree..."
Half way across the bridge, at its peak, you can step out to get a view of the river.
A view of the covered walkway on the north side of the river...
... and a view of the south side.
I stopped at Frilli, evidently the oldest shop on the bridge.
This lady is a great (or great-great) grandchild of the original owner. What did I buy there? A sterling silver (OK, OK, I already told you I couldn't afford the gold!) enamelled dolphin. Pretty!
I completely crossed Ponte Vecchio and ended up on Via de' Guicciardini on the south side of the river. This is Palazzo Guicciardini. Don't you love the inlaid decoration around its windows?
A very cool door knocker.
Palazzo Pitti... I think this is actually the "rear" of the palace. I never made it around to the front because the gardens were closed by the time I walked there.
Walking down Via de' Guicciardini back to Ponte Vecchio, there were many shops on the east side of the street that sold some interesting items.
Beautiful but "wild" silk ties...
... all leather golf bags...
... and very cool men's shoes and belts.
When I got back to the bridge, this musical artist (complete with CDs for sale) was "singing for his supper". He was quite talented.
Looking west towards the setting sun from atop Ponte Vecchio.
All of the gold stores on the bridge were closing down for the night.
Every one of them had some form of wooden shutters and ornate metal bars.
As I walked east, I took a slight detour down a small side street called Via de' Girolami just because it "looked cool".
A little further down, I came back out to the riverside.
On the river, crews were practising.
This I loved. A mini soccer (football) field. Note that there is netting behind the nets and along the riverbank. Still, a solid kick might accidently get redirected OVER the netting and then someone would have to get wet!
Walking down Lungarno Generale Armando Diaz towards Ponte alle Grazie.
Camera di Commercio Industria Artigianato e Agricoltura. People were leaving work and there were a lot of empty (2 wheel) parking spots.
Some poor guy wasn't going to be happy when they came out from work. With the way the bikes are all sandwiched into spots, it's amazing things like this don't happen often.
Ponte alle Grazie.
The inscription on this monument reads:
"Ai Forte
Cadendo a Mentana
Sacraromo Roma
Alla Libera Italia"

After a bit of quick research, I found that in 1867 the Battle of Mentana (north and east of Rome) was fought between the Italian patriot Garibaldi and the French. The battle was one of a number of fights fought in Italy's struggle for independence.

Once I reached Ponte alle Grazie, I headed north on Via de' Benci where I saw this HUGE and incredibly cool door knocker.
A small outdoor barre on Via de' Benci at Borgo Santa Croce.
Why were all the bleacher seats set up in front of the Basilica di Santa Croce, I wondered as I sat down for dinner at one of the many sidewalk cafes surrounding the space. Evidently, people sit down to dinner, just as I was, then attend"Circolo Teatro del Sale" which is an outdoor theatre.
When I had finished a delicious dinner, I went to get a better view of the Basilica.
From there, I walked down Via Antonio Magliabechi towards this interesting building.
Cassa Di Risparmio Di Lucca Pisa Livorno, a financial institution.
I looped back to Via de' Benci where I found a shop selling custom motorcycle clothes and helmets. I know a few people who would love this particular helmet.
I eventually found a bus stop which returned me to the Salesiani dell Immacolata. Since I was late getting back, I had to use a special magnetic key to open an entrance different than the one I'd originally come in by. This lovely garden area was just inside that entrance.
This is the map of my route to Firenze. The map below is the area of Firenze that I explored.
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