The port town of Livorno was the first port for my cruise in Italy. Livorno is a city on the northwestern coast of Italy in the area of Tuscany. The town is home to around 160,000 people but is not on my agenda today. There are many reasons to visit this area of Italy, from the stunning countryside to cities such as Pisa and Florence.
The Tuscan countryside is often found as the backdrop for some movies. The portrayal of the area from what I can see has been relatively accurate. The bus trip between locations is just like a movie reel of ever changing scenes. Without a scheduled stop in the countryside, I snapped this shot from the window of the bus.
Florence is located 90km east of Livorno with the tour bus taking about 1.5 hours to reach the first stop. Once we arrived in Florence, it was time to take a walking tour. Even though it had been raining in a city like Florence walking is the only practical way to see anything. With many tight and narrow streets, it would be impossible to navigate a tour bus through the mass of people.
Dome of Florence Cathedral Baptistery
The first stop for is the Dome of Florence Cathedral, with is the masterpiece of Brunelleschi. Opposite the cathedral is the Baptistery, which is associated with the Cathedral. The Baptistery is built as a separate building because if you must be baptised, to enter the Cathedral.
The Baptistry has a rather interesting feature built into the doors. There is a total of ten bronze reliefs that make up the two doors. They are of a similar design to the photo below, but all depict different scenes. I would have liked to photograph the whole door, but the volume of people made this impossible.
Dome of Florence Cathedral
The Dome of Florence Cathedral has a rather striking Bell Tower. The Bell Tower forms part of the cathedral and appears to have been built with the Cathedral. The exterior work on the Bell Tower matches the rest of the Cathedral and is adorned in pink, white and green marble.
Continuing on from the Cathedral to the square known as Piazza Della Signoria. In this square is Palazzo Vecchio the town hall of Florence. It is also in this square that a replica of a very famous artwork sits, Michelangelo’s David. The original sculpture is housed in the Accademia Gallery in Florence. The move is a step to preserve the original from the elements.
The last stop in Florence before lunch was a famous bridge that crosses the Arno River, named Ponte Vecchio. Ponte Vecchio is named in historic records dating back as early as 996. However, is has been destroyed by floods twice and rebuilt. The bridge does give quite a nice outlook back along the Florence waterfront over the river.
Basilica of Santa Croce
After a break for lunch, there was one more stop in Florence before continuing to Pisa. The Basilica of Santa Croce is a rather important historic site. It is the principal Franciscan Church in Florence and a Minor Basilica of the Roman Catholic church. However, it is also the burial place of some very famous people over the centuries. Including Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Foscolo, Gentile and Rossini. It was fascinating to see the monuments erected inside for each of these people.
There is a dormitory to the side of the Basilica where the Franciscan Friars used to reside. However, today it houses the Scuola Del Cuoio or Leather School. A beautiful courtyard separates the dormitory and Basilica, a place for contemplation.
There was a small amount of free time before leaving the city of Florence. Over lunch, I pinpointed a couple of spots I wanted to take a look at on the map and took a little walk. In the end, the map turned out not to be so useful, and I did not see much extra.
The next destination for the tour is Pisa, about 80km from Florence or around an hour and fifteen minutes drive. The primary destination in Pisa is the Leaning Tower of Pisa. To visit the area, though, you must park in a designated area and walk around 1km.
Leaning Tower Of Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa has seen significant restoration works in recent years. The work has been restoration work with the aim to stabilise the tower. Before the work started, the tower was leaning at 5.5 degrees. Today the tower is much more stable and leans at just 3.99 degrees.
The restoration work on the Leaning Tower of Pisa was no small task. However, the works will allow the tower to remain without fear of falling. While maintaining the marble exterior in all of its glory. Seeing the Lower for yourself, it is an amazing building. Although I would have liked to have a chance to go up the tower. That is one of the negative sides of being on a cruise, lack of time to do anything not included in the tour.
Like the Cathedral we visited in Florence earlier, the Cathedral in Pisa also has a separate Baptistery. With the area laid our much better and a lot fewer people I was better able to get a photo. In this case, the Baptistery is a circular building, constructed of white marble. The construction matches that of the Cathedral and Leaning Tower of Pisa, with a red tiled roof.
Heading back to the bus I came across a rather picturesque scene. A bike leaning against the side of a house, not sure if it is in use still or not.
The area of Tuscany between Livorno, Florence and Pisa is just as beautiful as you can imagine. It could easily be an area that you come to visit and not want to leave, just like in the movies.