Posted by: Debra Kolkka | May 22, 2016

A walking tour in Florence

I was invited to take a walking tour in Florence by The Roman Guy, a group doing guided tours of Rome, Venice, Milan and Florence.

Even though I know Florence quite well I thought it would be fun to see it from another point of view.

We met at 8.00am in the Piazza San Marco, underneath the statue.

Walking tour Florence

Our guide was Chiara, a delightful young woman brimming over with enthusiasm.

Walking tour Florence

The first stop was the Accademia museum to see its most famous resident, Michelangelo’s magnificent David. First up is the concrete model of the sculpture we would see later in the Piazza Signoria. It is rare for these to still exist.

Accademia

I see the copy of David in front of Palazzo Vecchio regularly, but there is nothing like seeing the real thing in this beautiful setting. David takes your breath away just by standing there.

David

Chiara’s knowledge is extensive and we could sense her love for her subject. She had some great stories about Michelangelo and his work in Florence.

There are lots of other things to see in the museum and we were given some time to wander about. There are lots of religious paintings and a gallery of faces.

We then walked towards the Duomo and once again Chiara had some tales to tell. She showed us the spot where David was supposed to be placed. I think he would have been completely lost up there on the roof…at the bottom of the slide bit.

Duomo Florence

We stopped to admire the gorgeous doors to the baptistery, and Chiara pointed out some of the fine detail. The doors are copies of the original doors which are now kept in the Duomo museum.

Baptistery doors Florence

After the Duomo we headed for the medieval section of Florence, with a quick stop at the workroom for the Duomo, where we could see where repair work is carried out.

It was fun to walk through the narrow streets, with a reminder from Chiara to look back for glimpses of the Duomo.

Florence

Florence was once a town of tower houses. Residents competed with each other to have the highest tower. The more money you had, the bigger the tower.

Florence tower house

Most have been reduced in height, but the communal tower is still original. This was the city office and nobody’s tower could be higher than this one.

Florence tower house

Nearby is the house where Dante Alighieri was born. It is now a restaurant.

Dante's house Florence

There is a Dante museum in the area as well. Perhaps a visit is in order to find out why he always looks so stern.

Dante Alighieri

Orsanmichele was our next stop. It is the fabulous church which was once a granary. It is possible to see where the open arches were filled in when the building was converted.

I have often wondered why the statues sit in the alcoves on the sides of the building. The building renovation was paid for by the various guilds, the equivalent of today’s unions. The more money they gave, the more elaborate the alcove and the better the position. It was a form of advertising.

The best spots were beside the doors and these alcoves had bronze statues instead of cheaper marble ones.

Orsanmichele Florence

Inside is the beautiful Gothic Tabernacle by Andrea Orcagna (1355-59) built off centre because the columns were already in place. It is made of beautiful carved marble, yes, even the curtain around the Madonna is marble.

Orsanmichele Florence

Orsanmichele Florence

It is still possible to see the chutes where the grain would come down from above.

Orsanmichele

A little further on is the Straw Market. This is what Orsanmichele looked like before the conversion.

Straw Market Florence

No visit to Florence is complete without patting the snout of Porcellino, the bronze of a wild boar. (beside the staw market) If you place a coin in his mouth and it falls into the grill below good luck will be yours.

Porcellino Florence

Piazza Signoria is the big and impressive piazza filled with giant sculptures. There is the David copy beside the door of the Palazzo Vecchio, where the city administration operates today…the old tower would not be big enough now.

Palazzo Vecchio

Behind the sculpture opposite David…

Palazzo Vecchio

…is the graffiti said to be done by Michelangelo.

Michelangelo graffiti

The Loggia opposite is like an open museum and lovely Chiara had more takes to tell about these. The bronze by Cellini (1545) of Perseus beheading Medusa has a face at the back…who knew? The photo is taken with the light in precisely the wrong place, which is why it is fuzzy.

Piazza Signoria Florence

Piazza Signoria Florence

Here is the finished marble sculpture of the concrete one we saw in Accademia.

Piazza Signoria Florence

We walked past the Uffizzi with its huge lines of people waiting to get it and walked via a back street to the Ponte Vecchio. On the way Chiara pointed out the olive tree planted to commemorate the bomb set off my the Mafia in 1993 that killed 5 people. There is also a recently erected memorial on the side of a building above.

Olive tree Florence

Bomb memorial Florence

The Ponte Vecchio was the perfect place to end our tour.

Ponte Vecchio

Chiara had lots of excellent suggestions for things to see and do in Florence.

I had a great 3 hours revisiting old friends and learning new things about them. I think a walking tour is the very best way to see a city, especially with a knowlegeable local who loves her subject.

Thank you Chiara…and The Roman Guy. Look them up if you are visiting Florence, Rome, Milan or Venice.

For Florence Tours click here.

Click  The Roman Guy for details of all their tours

 


Responses

  1. I love walking tours! My husband and I did one in Venice and it was well worth the time and cost.

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  2. I am certain that, although you have seen these treasures many times, the walking tour was a real treat. There is always something new to discover….

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    • I love to find out new details about familiar things.

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  3. Thank you VERY MUCH for the article and the well taken photos! A jewel of a posting, it has brought me back to my times in the city….!

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    • I love Florence, so any chance to explore is great.

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  4. Parts of this tour sound good- especially the medieval section and more unusual bits, but most is focussed on the very well known which is good for some travellers. I would love to find a walking tour of Florence that takes in more birth places, more medieval remnants and walls, old workshops, churches with works by Masaccio and so on.

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    • I learned a lot on the tour even though I am familiar with most of the places we visited. I didn’t really know about the tower houses, so that was great. I wonder if they do tours according to special requests…must ask.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Different perspectives and local information just adds to your already extensive knowledge of Florence. Glad you enjoyed the tour.

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    • I learned lots, and enjoyed the tour Chiara was a delight.

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  6. So much to see, so little time. I was quite impressed with our tour guide on our day in Florence.

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    • Florence is full of great stuff. Luckily I can visit often.

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  7. So many familiar sites in your pictures, it takes me back to my trip! Thanks for sharing.

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    • Florence is a great place to do a walking tour. I really enjoyed this one.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Love walking tours – usually relaxing – did one locally and learned about all the different trees planted on the grounds

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  9. I have been following The Roman Guy for quite some time on social media. Hope to do a tour with them like you did. Sounds like a great day Debra!

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  10. Thank you Deb and Chiara for an excellent tour of Florence. I did a tour about 15 years ago so it was wonderful to have this refresher.

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  11. Wonderful Debra! I always love walking tours because you learn so incredibly much. It is great for bloggers too as it always gives us fun tidbits to post. Florence is such an amazing city. Thanks for the post!

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  12. A great guide makes the world of difference! They can really open up a city and tell you things that you didn’t already know 🙂

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    • Chiara was excellent. She really loves her subject.

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  13. We, sadly, did not get to Florence on this just ended trip. Your excellent post inspires us to make sure to go, and follow the “Roman Guy” on our next trip!

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    • I know a lovely guide in Lucca for next time.

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  14. I fell in love with Florence all over again… and then some. 😉 Orsanmichele is the one I didn’t know about. There is just too much to see and explore in Florence not to miss anything. If I’m to do a walking tour, Florence would be a good choice for it.

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    • Orsanmichele is one of my favourite places in Florence. I was happy to get more information on this gorgeous spot. Walking tours are great.

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  15. […] the year there were many visits to lovely Lucca, fabulous Florence, marvellous Modena, Castiglione Garfagnana with Victoria, Bologna and Parma with Cathy for the […]

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