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Florence, Fiesole & Pisa

Firenze (Florence)

Just over an hour away from Celle, on the A11.  Museums, galleries and of course the Statue of David, and the famous Ponte Vecchio. We find that taking the train from Altopascio is better than by car, as parking can be like London – difficult!  From Altopascio, you can park your car free.  The train is a slow train and will take about 1 hr 40 mins.  The train station in Florence is in the centre of the city and the shops and museums are all in walking distance. If you want to visit the museums – avoid Monday – they are all closed!  At other times you will experience queues, unless you book in advance, online.  The leather market is very large and worth a visit, many leather jackets etc., to choose from.

The city lies on the River Arno  and is known for its history and its importance in the Middle Ages and in the Renaissance, especially for its art and architecture. A centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of the time, Florence is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance –  it has been called the Athens of the Middle Ages.

Florence is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world and its artistic,  historic and cultural heritage and impact in the world remains to this day. The city has a major impact in music, architecture, education, cuisine, fashion, philosophy, science and religion. The historic centre of Florence contains elegant squares, Renaissance palaces, academies, parks, gardens, churches, monasteries, museums, art galleries and ateliers. The city has also been nominated, according to a 2007 study, as the most desirable destination for tourists in the world.

The city boasts a wide range of collections of art, especially those held in the Pitti Palace and the Uffizi,  Florence is arguably the last preserved Renaissance city in the world and is regarded by many as the art capital of Italy.

FIESOLE 8 km (5 miles) above FLORENCE (The Sky above Florence)

It was probably founded in the 9th-8th century BC, as it was an important member of the Etruscan confederacy, and this can be seen from the remains of its ancient walls.

The first recorded mention o2.5n the town dates to 283 BC, when the town, then known as Faesulae, was conquered by the Romans. In pagan antiquity it was the seat of a famous school of augurs, and every year 12 young men were sent to Rome to study the art of divination. 

The Roman theatre of Fiesole is still used.  

The Catherdral of San Romolo closes at 12pm which is a great shame as it is very beautiful and has many interesting and precious works of art and includes frescoes dating back to the 16th century. The bell tower dates back to the 11th century. 

ALL THIS – JUST OVER AN HOUR AWAY!!!!

PISA

Pisa is identified by the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  You can go up the tower now, but by appointment only.  This can be booked online.  Each year, many thousands of people walk across the Piazza dei Miracoli and take a quick snap-shot, but don’t pay much attention to the River Arno, at least not the same attention as they pay to the same river flowing through Florence.  In Pisa,  the roads along the River Arno are as beautiful as those in Florence and in the past Pisa also had its own ‘Ponte Vecchio’, the Ponte de Mezzo with shops that were removed when the bridge was altered.

A recommended trip is a boat trip along the Arno.  A boat can be taken from a berth in the San Rossore Natural Park and slowly makes it way towards the centre of the town.

Like Venice, Pisa was founded on islands in a lagoon on the delta of the Arno and was only 3 kilometres from the sea and not 12 as it is today.  The successful development of the town was due to its importance as a port and, during its period of splendour, Pisa ruled Sardinia, Corsica and also the Spanish Balearic islands.  It is therefore along the river that you can see the more important traces of its past, displayed like a history booking opening before your eyes. Beautiful buildings were erected by the richest families that rules the town in the middle ages, but when Florence subjugated Pisa, all these families fled, some to Spain and France.  The fine climate later brought poets, musicians and writers from all over Europe and they lived in these houses on the ‘lungarnie’.