Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Florence and Lucca

The Cathedral in Florence. Quite incrediblly ornate

The skyline of Florence from the Palazzo Pitti

Okay, so before I put Italy back in its box of sunshine and accept the fact that its autumn here in the Netherlands and distinctly chilly, I'll just post a few pics of Florence and Lucca.

I was quite overwhelmed by Florence with its phenomenal art and history. Every street seems to have some great church, museum, gallery, palazzo or historic piazza, and I spent three hours in just one of them. There is so much to see, you could spend a month there and not get round to everything. Maybe there's even too much altogether.

Two views of the Arno from the Ponte Vecchio

The day I went, there were wall-to-wall tourists because the museums and galleries were all free (for the weekend) - just my luck! It didn't help me though because I couldn't get in to the places I wanted to see at first and I ended up at the Palazzo Pitti, which is more of a walk from the centre, but worth every step. What a wealth of paintings and sculptures they had there! To see Titians, Del Sartos and Raphaels that I have only ever seen in books was quite amazing, and the Roman sculptures on display were..well..quite breathtaking.

The highlight, though, was going down a backstreet and into a beautiful church where three young musicians were practising. Maybe I've mentioned this before, but it was so lovely to listen to the organ, flute and clarinet of these three youngsters being played with so much love and joy in such heavenly (Yes, I mean it) surroundings.

The following day I went to Lucca, which is also very beautiful. Surrounded by high fortifications and with its narrow medieval streets leading to the old Roman amphitheatre, now a market place, it is a history lovers dream. The cathedral is magnificent as is the old baptistry with its archaeological ruins on display beneath the main aisles of the church. I thought of Maria when I went there!

When I arrived I had to buy a ticket to go in and see the ruins. I always head for archaeological sites when I know they are there as this was originally my career choice back in my student days. The ladies at the desk asked me where I'd come from, so I told them I'd come from Holland. Looking very crestfallen, they said they had information about the ruins, but only in German, French and English. Would English be alright for me? I answered yes, of course, with suitable seriousness and thanked them kindly before walking away chuckling. As it happened, it wasn't much use as the English was so incomprehensible, I couldn't follow the information easily at all, but it was kind of them to offer, wasn't it? Maybe they'll organise some Dutch leaflets for next year. I wonder what they'll be like...

Anyhow, I explored the rest of the town and liked it very much. It's a bit too touristy -again- for me, which is why in the end I preferred Pisa, but it's well worth a visit.

The medieval streets and Piazza's of Lucca are beautiful

One thing I should say about Italy is that the trains are fantastic - cheap, frequent and everything is in both Italian and English, including all the announcements. Given this, I'm still very surprised at how little English the Italians themselves speak.

One part of the old amphitheatre in Lucca

Well, I think I've done with the Italian blogs now...get back to reality again, VallyP. That Tuscan sun is now just a memory.


  1. I need a vacation. To Italy. Now.

    Beautiful pics, Val. It makes me really want to go there.


  2. Just a memory...but what a memory to recall upon! :)

  3. Looks great. Really makes me think I have to go there sometime.

  4. I so want to go to Italy...!!! This just confirms it, thanks so much Val!

  5. Maybe they had Dutch literature, but the Dutch complained about the grammar so much they gave up!

  6. It will have to be a very large package!
    It sounds like there was so much to do and see. The cathedral is magnificent in its ornateness - breathtaking!
    I really love the photo of the alley between the apartments. Do people actually live there? I know it's probably a silly question, but I cannot imagine life in such cramped apartments... unless it's barge life, the reason for which I can understand.
    And I, too, prefer to visit less touristy areas. It's more like becoming immersed in the life, rather than looking in upon it through a window.
    The daughter of a good friend of mine lives in Italy, having married an Italian an recently giving birth to a son. She has done a great job of learning the language. I can't remember where they live, though - the north, I think.

    Thanks for the wonderful guided tour of Italy!


  7. Oh Anne Marie! If you go now, I'll meet you there!

    You too Grace!

    You must, Stu! We are so close here. Europe is on our doorstep!

    String, you'd better join Anne Marie, Grace and I. We'll bask in Italian sunshine.

    Lol Tim, maybe they did!

    Dale,I kind of think living in these narrow alleys is part of what makes Italy charming. You can reach across the passage and shake your neighbour's hand...or shout at them as the case may be! The only thing I missed was boats on the rivers. I really felt the rivers lacked life, but then maybe that's because I've got used to seeing the vibrancy on the waterways here.

  8. Yes, Val, I agree about the charm. Personally, I just don't think I could do it for any extended amount of time. It would be fun to visit and immerse myself for a while, though!


  9. I was walking through Rotterdam tonight and saw a theatre (I think it was a theatre) called Luxor so I thought of you... not in a creepy stalker way.

  10. LOL Stu, I always think of me when I see it too ;-) Well, my blog anyway. When are you going to drop round??

  11. Yes, we have to sort that out :) I was just trying to find your meail address to email you. We're pretty busy at the moment but should have some more time next month.

    Are you on Facebook by the way?


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