Right after breakfast we boarded a bus for the 90-minute trip to Florence. The day's tour guide was a native of Livorno. She apologized for the seediness of the industrial area we had to drive through to reach the highway, and said most of the town was very nice. Along the way to Florence she gave us facts about the area we passed through.
When we reached the city the bus had to let us out on the perimeter because the old city streets were so narrow.
The tour lasted for almost two hours. Our guide did a great job showing us the city highlights, including the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, which was completed in the 15th century. Legend is that the church was founded by St. Francis.
The tour did not include the inside of the Basilica, but Tony and I visited it during our free time. In addition to the beautiful Gothic architecture and stained glass windows, the sanctuary contains the tombs of Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and Galileo.
|Machiavelli resting place|
Unfortunately, the Baptistery (a separate building across the Piazza del Duomo) was being renovated in anticipation of a visit by Pope Francis in November. The building was covered with plastic adorned with a replica of the original. The tour guide told us that one of the highlights of the building is its bronze doors. I'll have to wait until my net trip to Florence to experience them.
|Baptistery under wraps|
Right before our tour ended our guide took us to the Ponte Vecchio bridge over the Arno River. The bridge dates to the 1300s, and was the only structure across the Arno River that wasn't destroyed in World War II.
|Ponte Vecchio bridge|
Five years ago today: Are You Paying Attention?