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Old 11-17-2010   #61 (permalink)
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The second photo in your review of Hotel Al Ponte Antico is absolutely beautiful. Looks like a painting. Love it.
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Old 11-17-2010   #62 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Luv2Dance View Post
The second photo in your review of Hotel Al Ponte Antico is absolutely beautiful. Looks like a painting. Love it.
It IS beautiful, isn't it? You can thank the owner of the hotel for that one ~ I got it from the Hotel Al Ponte Antico website.
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Old 11-17-2010   #63 (permalink)
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It IS beautiful, isn't it? You can thank the owner of the hotel for that one ~ I got it from the Hotel Al Ponte Antico website.
I've noticed the "ahhhh, it looks like a painting" surreal feeling...throughout your trip report. Not just this one...but the capture with the gondola and the bridge sparked my response, mostly.

Every installment of your report has been awesome and I look forward to seeing your thread pop up; knowing there is something new to look at and learn about.
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Old 11-17-2010   #64 (permalink)
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Exclamation The Duomo

Once we got checked in at our B&B, we set off to explore Florence. After all, we only had about 24 hours to see what the city was all about!

FIRST ~ because Mike got so sweated out and parched from our hike to the B&B from the train station, we decided to find a place to get a beer or two. We walked away from the Duomo ~ towards Piazza Della Santissima Annunziata, where we found a little gelateria which had sidewalk seating and served birra ala spina (draft beer). We sat there and enjoyed our beer while watching all the various activity in the Piazza. Florence seems to be LOADED with students, and there were quite a few sitting on the steps of the buildings surrounding the Piazza.

Piazza Della Santissima Annunziata is apparently also known as Piazza Due Fontane (two fountains square), as there are two identical fountains out in the middle of it. You can see one of them over to the right in this photo. Notice all the bicycles. There were LOADS of them in Venice ~ along with the ever-present motor scooters that you see all over Italy ~ except in Venice....



The "creatures" (not sure just what they were supposed to be ~ reminded Mike and me of the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz.





After taking a look around the Piazza, we turned back towards the Duomo to check it out.



Notice the "Do Not Enter" sign ~ that's been changed to a guy carrying a board! We saw these all over Florence! Must be some students with time on their hands...



The Duomo is simply AMAZING!! It's the 4th largest church in the world. The cathedral, which is actually named Santa Maria di Fiori was begun in 1296. During the original construction, there was not enough engineering knowledge to contruct a free-standing dome, so that portion was left open until Brunelleschi designed and supervised the construction of the massive brick dome in 1415.

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The dome was not built until the early 15th century, when Filippo Brunelleschi, a goldsmith and sculptor, began to make statues for the cathedral. Gradually he became interested in the building itself and built some smaller parts of it. In about 1415 he prepared a design for the dome that he daringly proposed to build without the aid of formwork, which had been absolutely necessary in all previous Roman and Gothic construction.
He built a 1:12 model of the dome in brick to demonstrate his method; the design was accepted and built under his supervision from 1420 to 1436.

Brunelleschi's dome consists of two layers, an inner dome spanning the diameter and a parallel outer shell to protect it from the weather and give it a more pleasing external form. Both domes are supported by 24 stone half arches, or ribs, of circular form, 2.1 metres (seven feet) thick at the base and tapering to 1.5 metres (five feet), which meet at an open stone compression ring at the top. To resist outward thrust, tie rings of stone held together with metal cramps run horizontally between the ribs. There are also tie rings of oak timbers joined by metal connectors. The spaces between the ribs and tie rings are spanned by the inner and outer shells, which are of stone for the first 7.1 metres and brick above. The entire structure was built without formwork, the circular profiles of the ribs and rings being maintained by a system of measuring wires fixed at the centres of curvature.

Brunelleschi obviously understood enough about the structural behaviour of the dome to know that, if it were built in horizontal layers, it would always be stable and not require timber centring. He also designed elaborate wooden machines to move the needed building materials both vertically and horizontally. Having all but equaled the span of the Pantheon in stone, Brunelleschi was hailed as the man who "renewed Roman masonry work"; the dome was established as the paragon of built form.
The building is simply breathtaking, and its MASSIVE size adds to that feeling.



The exterior walls are finished in beautiful panels of green, pink and white polished Italian marble. GORGEOUS!





The detail work on the building is simply amazing.





Because of the massive size of the building, it was impossible for us to get photos of the entire thing.





There were lots of tourists and tour groups around the building ~ and gypsies trying to get the tourists to give them money.



When we first went past the Duomo on our way to the B&B, we saw a VERY long line snaking along one side of the building. Later on, we figured out it MUST have been the line to climb up to the top of the gigantic dome! Notice the people all around the top.



The bell tower was enormous too.



NOTHING about this structure was small in any way. The city of Florence was filled with artists. We purchased a really lovely small water color depicting the Duomo, bell tower and surrounding buildings for a reasonable €10. I already have the painting framed and up on the wall of our computer/travel room.




Last edited by JoanieBlon; 11-17-2010 at 06:29 PM..
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Old 11-19-2010   #65 (permalink)
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After viewing the magnificent Duomo, we set out to see some of the rest of the city. Here's a map to give you an idea of what the layout of Florence looks like.

Both the Duomo and the train station (Stazione FS Firenze S.M. Novella) are are pretty obvious on the map. The little red dot to the north of the Duomo is the location of Soggiorno Panerai B&B. The green dot a bit south and west of the Duomo is the Piazza della Repubblica. The tiny blu dot a bit further south and a bit to the east is the Piazza della Signoria ~ the location of the Florence City Hall ~ the Palazzo Vecchio. The tiny purple dot further south and along the Arno River is the Ponte Vecchio ~ the Medieval bridge famous for its gold and jewelry shops.



The exterior of Florence City Hall has a number of beautiful statues, including a copy of Michaelangelo's David. This copy stands where the original was for centuries. The original is now on display in the Galleria dell' Academia so as to provide protection from the elements and possible vandalism.

Here's the Palazzo Vecchio viewed from the Piazza della Signoria.



Detail of the area showing crests located along the upper part of the building.



This fountain shows the God of the sea, Neptune, in his chariot drawn by massive (sea?) horses.



Detail of the horses.



Here is the statue of David copy, which is directly to the left of the entrance to the building.



A view of David from across the Piazza della Signoria. The small statue just left of the entrance to the building is Adam. Eve is on the right side, but not visible in this photo.



This statue to the right of the door depicts Hercules and Cacus.



In an area along the Piazza known as the Loggia della Signoria (also called Loggia dei Lanzi), there are MANY statues on display. Here is one in bronze depicting Perseus holding up the head of the Medusa.



Flags ~ the European Union with its 13 stars, the Italian flag, and the banner of Firenze with the fleur di lis.



Another shot of Neptune, showing a steeple in the background.



There were horse-drawn carriages available for rides around the Centro (Chen-tro) Historico. Notice the canvas covers on the horse's ears. I assume these were to cut down on the street noise ~ cars and motorcycles ~ that might startle the horse. In Rome I saw some that were actually knitted! This horse also had full blinders to prevent him from being startled.



Here's a horse enjoying a snack. No ear covers, but he has partial blinders.



Walking through the narrow Medieval streets of Florence on a brilliantly sunny Fall day brings a contrast of sunlight and shadows.



This restaurant was advertising the freshness of the ingrediants used for cooking by this attractive mushroom display on a small table longside the doorway. This was VERY common in Rome ~ we saw large displays of mushrooms and vegetables there outside of restaurants.



We continued on our way ~ generally heading in the direction of the Arno River. We passed through the open courtyard of the very famous Uffizi Gallery where this large poster was on display advertising one of the featured collections.



We finally arrived at the Arno River and were a bit puzzled to see ALL these locks on a chain barrier there.



After returning home, I found out what these represent. They are Lucchetti d'amore or "locks of love." There was a tradition for lovers to walk out onto the Ponte Vecchio, attach a lock to the fence there surrounding the statue of the artist Bellini, and then throw the key into the Arno River, symbolizing the unbreakable bond between them.

The locks on the fence around the statue got really out of hand ~

Quote:
Last winter the council set a team of metal cutters to work removing the 5,500 locks which had accumulated on the railings. They finished this week .

Meanwhile, city police have been told to watch over the busy tourist site and to slap a 50-euro fine on anyone who tries to attach a lock.
Where we saw the locks was on long chains running alongside the Arno River, so I assume that lovers must be attaching them there now to avoid the €50 fine.

This is a view of the very famous Ponte Vecchio with its gold and jewelry shops. We didn't walk out onto the bridge...better to avoid temptation! Our doctor told me that he bought "way too much gold" during a visit there....



Looking away from the Ponte Vecchio.



We decided not to cross over the river, and so didn't get to see the Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens. Something to look forward to on our next trip!

We decided to wander back in the general direction of our B&B, looking out for a place to eat along the way. Here are a few shots of scenes in Florence that we saw.



This building was being worked on, and so a protective cover up depicting the façade of the building was in place.



Two tiny cars ~ quite appropriate for Florence, with its narrow, crowded streets.



Notice the sneakers on this local girl...the one on the corner lighting the cigarette is dressed in the "typical" local fashion. The sticker on the 3 wheeled car indicated that it was a "motorized rickshaw."



The ever popular motorscooters and motorcycles. I have a feeling that riding these around on the cobblestone streets when it's raining might be a bit scary!



A lovely, ornate window.



I liked these windows with "bottle bottoms" glass.



A doorway detail. Winged lions seemed to be highly popular all over Italy.



A religious niche with interesting lamps.



More interesting doorway detail.



As we walked along, we came upon these sidewalk artists. You could see past days' works fading out along the street.





We eventually found ourselves in the very large Piazza della Repubblica. Here was a highly popular sidewalk cafe. Too crowded and touristy (€ € €) so we decided against eating there.



There was a lovely carousel in this Piazza.





This carousel was very ornate with beautiful paintings on the walls and ceiling.



The ticket booth was ornate as well ~ decorated with love scenes and cupids. Wonder what the children think about all this?



Note the style of dress of the two local girls taking their babies out for a walk. One of them is wearing American style white sneakers....



In the area around Piazza della Repubblica, there were quite a few tourist shops. Leather goods ~ bags, jackets, belts boots, & shoes ~ are offered for sale all over the city.



Homer Simpson was REALLY popular around here! We saw quite a few students wearing various styles of Homer tees. We also saw "Duff Beer" for sale! I'd LOVE to watch/hear The Simpsons in Italian!



We have guests visiting from England for a few days, so I won't be able to continue my trip report while they're here ~ we'll be out and about doing the "tourist" thing. Hopefully I should be able to finish up our experiences in Florence on Monday afternoon....
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Old 11-25-2010   #66 (permalink)
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Thumbs up

I'd die for a real pizza and a spritz in my hometown, Treviso...
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Old 11-25-2010   #67 (permalink)
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I'd die for a real pizza and a spritz in my hometown, Treviso...
Today I enjoyed a very good Campari spritz with my "Italian" Thanksgiving lunch at Trattoria Lauro Ristorante here in Tampa. Homemade crusty hot bread, pasta e fagioli, and veal scallopini with mixed wild mushrooms and fresh rosemary in a white wine sauce. The veal came with fusilli with a pomodoro sauce. It was a GREAT lunch and GREAT service!

But then....what's a spritz compared to living in Paradise?
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Old 08-31-2011   #68 (permalink)
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[cut...]
Pizzas are NEVER served sliced! People eat them with a knife and fork.
[cut...]
well that is the way real pizza is served and eaten

nothing weird about it

I know this is an old post but I couldn't resist in replying
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Old 09-23-2011   #69 (permalink)
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Joanie, you're like having the Travel Chanel right here on PlayaInfo. Thanks for another outstanding Trip Report. Italy is on our bucket list. I need more vacation time damn it. Kim went many years ago(Rome, Florence, Venice). She liked Florence the best and Venice the least. Florence is where her family is from so that makes sense. Was surprised that she didn't care for Venice that much. Me, I think I could spend a whole week just in Rome.
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Old 09-23-2011   #70 (permalink)
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Joanie, you're like having the Travel Chanel right here on PlayaInfo. Thanks for another outstanding Trip Report. Italy is on our bucket list. I need more vacation time damn it. Kim went many years ago(Rome, Florence, Venice). She liked Florence the best and Venice the least. Florence is where her family is from so that makes sense. Was surprised that she didn't care for Venice that much. Me, I think I could spend a whole week just in Rome.
Thanks for your kind words.....I feel pretty embarassed, as I never did finish this trip report..... . Just ran out of steam and ambition about doing it. Maybe one of these days I'll finish it up with the Pompeii and Rome portions. Mike and I LOVED Pompeii ~ both the ruins AND the small city ~ and Rome! Rome was INCREDIBLE!!!
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Old 08-05-2012   #71 (permalink)
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Thanks for your kind words.....I feel pretty embarassed, as I never did finish this trip report..... . Just ran out of steam and ambition about doing it. Maybe one of these days I'll finish it up with the Pompeii and Rome portions. Mike and I LOVED Pompeii ~ both the ruins AND the small city ~ and Rome! Rome was INCREDIBLE!!!
Well I think you should definately finish it!
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Old 12-02-2012   #72 (permalink)
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I am still working on my trip to Italy in May...it is shaping up like this...thanks Joanie for inspiring me....

Venice 3 nights Hotel American Dinesen
Florence- 3 nights La Dimora B&B
Siena- 3 nights Hotel Palazzo Ravizzi
Montepulciano- 3 nights Hotel Albergo Duomo
Sorrento- 4 nights Gran Hotel de La Ville
Rome- 5 nights Albergo Cesari
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Old 12-03-2012   #73 (permalink)
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Cool Wish I Was Going Back to Italy!

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Originally Posted by Jacko View Post
I am still working on my trip to Italy in May...it is shaping up like this...thanks Joanie for inspiring me....

Venice 3 nights Hotel American Dinesen
Florence- 3 nights La Dimora B&B
Siena- 3 nights Hotel Palazzo Ravizzi
Montepulciano- 3 nights Hotel Albergo Duomo
Sorrento- 4 nights Gran Hotel de La Ville
Rome- 5 nights Albergo Cesari
Sounds like you have a WONDERFUL trip lined up! I'd LOVE to go back to Italy....but I also want to go back to Greece, Spain, the UK, and Turkey!

Montepulciano is my wine of choice when it's offered on menus when we dine out.

I took a quick look at the place you are staying at in Rome and it looks well located and nice. You might want to check out where Mike and I stayed while we were in Rome ~ The Best Pantheon B&B which was absolutely FANTASTIC! The location was AMAZING! Close to everything in Central Rome ~ the Pantheon, the Vatican, the Campo dei Fiori, the Largo Argentina, where Ceasar was assasinated, the Coloseum, etc. Mike & I would DEFINITELY stay here again, should we return to Rome.

Best Pantheon B&B is a small place ~ I think there are perhaps only 5 rooms. It's on the 2nd floor of an old, historic building and there's no elevator to that floor, so you do have to haul your luggage up. It's IMMACULATELY clean, and very modern. A HUGE breakfast is brought to your room each morning which includes cereal, breads, meat, cheese, yogurt, fresh fruit, fresh squeezed orange juice, coffee, tea, etc. Free WiFi and computer access are included in the price. Mike and I stayed in the "Deluxe" room, which faces out onto Vitorio Emmanuelle. It had a queen bed, flat screen TV, mini-fridge, sofa, dining table, and the tiled bathroom had a LARGE, 2 person Jacuzzi with a shower arrangement.

In spite of our room facing out onto the major thoroughfare, it was very quiet.

Here's the TripAdvisor reviews and photos.

BTW ~ I still feel a bit guilty that I never finished this trip report....I need to go looking for my photos and see if I can still recall all the neat things we saw and did!

Last edited by JoanieBlon; 12-03-2012 at 02:03 PM..
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Old 12-03-2012   #74 (permalink)
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Sounds like you have a WONDERFUL trip lined up! I'd LOVE to go back to Italy....but I also want to go back to Greece, Spain, the UK, and Turkey!

Montepulciano is my wine of choice when it's offered on menus when we dine out.

I took a quick look at the place you are staying at in Rome and it looks well located and nice. You might want to check out where Mike and I stayed while we were in Rome ~ The Best Pantheon B&B which was absolutely FANTASTIC! The location was AMAZING! Close to everything in Central Rome ~ the Pantheon, the Vatican, the Campo dei Fiori, the Largo Argentina, where Ceasar was assasinated, the Coloseum, etc. Mike & I would DEFINITELY stay here again, should we return to Rome.

Best Pantheon B&B is a small place ~ I think there are perhaps only 5 rooms. It's on the 2nd floor of an old, historic building and there's no elevator to that floor, so you do have to haul your luggage up. It's IMMACULATELY clean, and very modern. A HUGE breakfast is brought to your room each morning which includes cereal, breads, meat, cheese, yogurt, fresh fruit, fresh squeezed orange juice, coffee, tea, etc. Free WiFi and computer access are included in the price. Mike and I stayed in the "Deluxe" room, which faces out onto Vitorio Emmanuelle. It had a queen bed, flat screen TV, mini-fridge, sofa, dining table, and the tiled bathroom had a LARGE, 2 person Jacuzzi with a shower arrangement.

In spite of our room facing out onto the major thoroughfare, it was very quiet.

Here's the TripAdvisor reviews and photos.

BTW ~ I still feel a bit guilty that I never finished this trip report....I need to go looking for my photos and see if I can still recall all the neat things we saw and did!
Thanks, Joanie! I was hoping I could tease you out to finishing off this excellent report!
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Old 07-31-2013   #75 (permalink)
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Touring Italy ~ Venice, Florence, Pompeii & Rome!

That's Cool idea .... Thanks for sharing.
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