European Adventures: Pisa & Florence

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Buongiorno! Our European adventure along the Mediterranean coast continues and the next stop is Tuscany, a region in the central part of Italy. Our ship docked at the Port of Livorno, and our day trip included the cities Pisa and Florence.

DSC01766Upon arriving at Pisa, the weather was quite gloomy and we were quite scared that it might ruin our day trip. Thankfully, we only experienced light rain in some parts of the day. Of course, our trip to Pisa was all about the Leaning Tower. It is actually the bell tower of the cathedral, which are both located at the Square of Miracles (Piazza dei Miracoli).Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetDSC01792

After our short visit to Pisa, we proceeded to our next stop – Florence. The travel time was around 1 1/2 to 2 hours so we grabbed the chance to get some rest and be ready for an afternoon of walking.

Our first stop was Santa Croce Church (Basilica of Santa Croce), the resting place of icons such as Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and Galileo Galilei. A Monument to Dante also stands in front the church.

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The next stop on our Florence walking tour was the Piazza della Signoria. It can be considered as an open-air gallery, with numerous sculptures displayed, such as David (the original is in the Galleria dell’Accademia) by Michelangelo, Hercules and Cacus (1534) by Bandinelli, and Nettuno (1575) by Ammannati.

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The Piazza della Signoria has been the center of political life in Florence since the 14th century with the prominent Palazzo Vecchio overlooking the square.

 

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After an Italian lunch, we continued our walking tour and had some time to marvel at the beautiful Duomo. The Piazza del Duomo was bustling with people when we were there, and numerous souvenir shops, gelato stands, cafes and restaurants lined the surrounding streets.

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Our last stop for the day was Galleria dell’ Accademia, where we lined up for quite a few hours to see the original David sculpture by Michelangelo.

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Aside from the sculpture of David, which is probably the most famous sculpture in the world, we also got to see more sculptures and paintings by different Italian artists.

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That’s it for our day trip in Pisa and Florence!

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See my other posts on our European adventures:

 

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European Adventures: Milan

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Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Another day, another city. Better yet — another country! Upon waking up on the third day of our Mediterranean Cruise, we were already in Italy. When I started to realize that travelling was one of the best things to do in life, this country was definitely included on my bucket list. Delicious food, magnificent ruins, big churches, and not to mention the beautiful language. I wish I could speak Italian, but the next best thing is listening to it all day!

First stop on our Milan tour – the famous Milan Cathedral or the Duomo di Milano.

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The Duomo is the fifth largest Christian church in the world (outdone by St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil, Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York and Seville’s Cathedral).

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Aside from being one of the largest and oldest churches in the world, it is said that there are more statues on this cathedral than any other building. There are 3,400 statues, 135 gargoyles and 700 figures that decorate the Duomo.

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After taking pictures at the Cathedral, we did some strolling, shopping and snacking at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. It was time for some gelato, coffee and tiramisu! We also found some souvenirs and pasalubong for our loved ones back home.

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Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a magnificent shopping arcade, covered with a glass and iron roof. The interior of the impressive five story structure is decorated with patriotic mosaics and statues.

Our last stop for the day was Sforza Castle.

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Sforza Castle (Castello Sforzesco) was originally a Visconti fortress. Later, this iconic red-brick castle was home to the mighty Sforza dynasty, who ruled Renaissance Milan. The castle’s defences were designed by the multitalented da Vinci; Napoleon later drained the moat and removed the drawbridges. Today, it houses seven specialised museums, which gather together intriguing fragments of Milan’s cultural and civic history, including Michelangelo’s final work, the Rondanini Pietà, now housed beautifully in the frescoed hall of the castle’s Ospedale Spagnolo (Spanish Hospital).

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Oh, and I was able to steal a shot with this! Expo Milano 2015.

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It was a short day in Milan but I’m glad to have seen and learned about some of its iconic structures. Milan, I’ll come back someday! (I still have to see Da Vinci’s The Last Supper)

To read other posts on our European adventures, click on the following links: