Time to rest our weary legs and put pen to paper (or bits to interweb) after some action packed days.

Bruce meanders along the winding Tuscan countryside taking us to historic walled villages of Volterra and San Gimignano, then on to Florence!!


We entered Volterra through the large walled gates of the city. IMG_0740      IMG_0721

Bev stumbled upon a couple of bikes she fancied and one even had her name on it.IMG_0733 IMG_0729

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We laughed at this amusing sign outside the “PEPERITA” restaurant.


After a pleasant stroll around Volterra, we drive across to San Gimignano passing interesting modern roadside art!



Voila! Yes, I am standing here in San Gimi!! & yes it is a beautiful, but crowded, hilltop village distinctive with it’s 11th century towers! Different stone colours create colourful pictures.

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The many modern art galleries displayed spectacular works for sale, like this one in the window! Would love to buy this guy of wire on a swing for our back garden!!IMG_0821


Let’s visit Florence – or Firenze as they now call it! Many puzzling signs, which direction do we take?

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Florence’s golden age (renaissance) arrived in the 15th century under the Medici Prince Lorenzo il Magnifico!!IMG_0961

We had booked a 3 1/2 hour guided walking tour of Florence. Emmanuel was a local and very passionate about Florence and everything Florentine.


It included a tour of the Uffizi Gallery – Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci (this one painted when he was only 20 years old) and  Michelangelo’s circular family portraits.


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(Michelangelo was commissioned to produce the paintings after his “David” statue gained fame – he was now a successful artist!. His David statue was made from a single block of marble that was not being “used” at the time.  It was so remarkable it established his reputation so he then accepted commissions. The ” HOLY FAMILY” circular picture here was commissioned for an agreed price of 40 ducats, however the rich man that was to pay said “too many naked men in the background so I am not going to pay!!”. As a result, Michelangelo went on to sell it for three times the agreed price – his reputation was building!!)


Bev took “time out” to recline on the sofa feeling overwhelmed by it all . . . . .  whilst Mark had a chat with with his cousin, ZEUS (2nd century AD)” Can you see the resemblance??

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Many eye-catching buildings in Florence, the Gothic Duomo with it’s enormous dome (you can see people up there, they walked up 414 steps (then down again)!! These golden doors of the battistero took Lorenzo Ghiberti 27 years to produce. He had just spent 21 years producing another pair of doors on the same building!!

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The Roman battistero (white and green marble) one of the oldest buildings herein Florence.


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By LucarelliOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4834476

Beautiful, ancient bridges make for great photos – daytime and nighttime! Ponte Vecchio with its many jewellery shops  – it was very crowded.

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Walking back along the cobbled streets we stumbled upon tiny St Mark’s Church which doubles as a tiny Opera Theatre by night!! We bought last minute tickets for tonight’s performance of CARMEN, sung in French. More about it here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carmen

It was an amazing experience. The church had wonderful acoustics and the opera singers were 1st class!!

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Our second day in Florence we visited “Michelangelo’s David” with tickets we had pre-booked two days earlier to avoid the long queues! It is truly an amazing 15th century work of art made out of one block of abandoned marble!!


Making our way back to Bruce we enjoy some funny signs and interesting sights! What do you think of these white police hats & this elderly lady’s graffiti car?! We looked at so many Italian leather bag shops but, alas, couldn’t find the right one for Bev!!!!

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This happened on the morning of our visit to this area!!

From BBC: A section of the embankment of the River Arno in central Florence collapsed on Wednesday morning, sending part of the road and at least 20 parked cars into a newly formed ditch. 
The collapse took place very close to the famous Ponte Vecchio, a medieval covered bridge over the Arno.
The hole is about 200m (650ft) in length and 7m (23ft) across.
Firefighters believe the chasm has been created by the failure of a large water pipe beneath the surface.