Scenes from Tuscany, then on to Florence

I still had some neat pictures from the towns in Tuscany that we visited, that I wanted to share, but didn’t fit my story line in the previous post.

Several days in the villa near Cortona were very foggy. We went ahead and hiked up into the town of Cortona, and literally on the top of the hill that the town is built on, we got above the clouds and fog, and had some really neat views.


Once the fog lifted we could see the views we had been missing:


In Siena (and most other Tuscan towns) they have gorgeous painted ceramics -


… as well as interesting door decorations:


Even the smallest towns will have a church, with some having three (or 5 or 10!).


Also, I thought it was interesting that so many towns are walled, and the walls are still intact.



We have loved the first hand education on Italian wine, being able to taste ones from different locations, and having a mental image of the town or the area they come from. Also tasting the different levels of quality, and being able to put names to the tastes we prefer (will be very helpful in the future in restaurants!).

grapevines in the foreground and olive trees behind

grapevines in the foreground and olive trees behind

Florence is a much bigger city than any we visited in Tuscany. It too has a wall:


We went to so many museums that our heads and eyes were spinning trying to take in all the beauty around. Michelangelo was primarily a sculptor, and completed this Bacchus when he was only 22! (1497)


This “Holy Family” is his only completed easel painting:


The Uffizi Gallery (where we saw so many famous paintings by Botticelli, Lippi, Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian) has the largest collection of Italian art in the world. It was huge, and we almost literally ran through it, just to make it to all the main pieces. Steve was disappointed at all the art (and plaques to read) that we had to miss. We need to go back to Florence, just to spend another 2 days at the Uffizi alone! I was truly surprised at how much I enjoyed seeing all these Old Masters’ works of art (such gorgeous colors and neat perspectives up close) and being educated on the progression of painting technique through the Renaissance.

Caravaggio painted this head of Medusa on a shield:


Enough paintings already! As we advanced through the museums, I kept wanting to take pictures of all the masterpieces, then rightly concluded that I’d probably never look at them again. Sculptures on the other hand, were mesmerizing, and I usually took multiple pictures of a piece from all angles. In Rome, we had our breath taken away by the entire first floor of sculptures in the Borghese Museum, and the Bargello in Florence did likewise. (hint: these are strong recommendations for sculpture museums in these cities). Even though this post is on Florence, I wanted to include a favorite from the Borghese:


This is a sculpture by Bernini of “Apollo and Daphne” as she is being turned into a tree. Check out the fineness of the carving of the leaves between the two figures. This is marble!

Now back to Florence - here’s an interesting version of David in bronze by Donatello (over 50 years before Michelangelo’s David):


Enough art (for now)! We got a great view of the Ponte Vecchio (literal translation is “old bridge”) from the Uffizi Gallery:


The current version of this bridge was built in 1345, and it’s the only one of the many bridges over the Arno River to have shops actually built on it. The Vasari Corridor runs along above the shops and was a secret passage for the Medici to pass unseen from Palazzo Vecchio and the Uffizi Gallery over to the Pitti Palace (4 blocks from the bridge!).

I’ve just looked ahead and found that I have WAY too many more pictures from Florence to include (bore you with) in a single post, so I’ll end this one with a sneak peek at what’s to come: