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Italy: Trip of a Lifetime. Part 7

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One of the views of Florence from the Piazzale Michaelangelo

These posts, accompanied by photographs, record our recent stay in Italy. Having thoroughly enjoyed it, we’re sharing our experience. You’ll get the (almost) full story of our travels, activities, and experiences; warts and all, in instalments.

Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4. Part 5. Part 6.

24th September, Monday.

Our first breakfast in the spacious dining room at Hotel Balestri, revealed they offer a full Continental selection as well as bacon, sausage and egg for those in search of traditional English fare. I prefer to eat like the locals, if possible, when overseas. The waiters serve coffee, tea, and toast if required, and the rest is self-service from a sensible array of foods, easily accessed. It’s a pleasant space and a good experience.

Afterwards, we walked along the riverside and then across the Ponte Alle Grazie to the other side to explore the old city and climb the bank for panoramic views of our side of the river.

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An ancient tower, undergoing restoration, on the south side of the Arno.

We walked quiet roads, past a tower under restoration and up the steep, winding curves that led us to the Piazzale Michelangelo, high above the river.

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On the Ponte Alle Grazie, crossing the river.

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On the climb to the Piazzale.

The way passes through parkland and provides ever broader views of the city as the climb progresses. We stopped frequently along the route, gazing at the ever-changing view across the Arno, as the city was revealed.

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In the Piazzale Michaelangelo.

The Piazza is a large open paved area with statues, some small market stalls, and benches for visitors to rest after that steep climb. Although there were a lot of people up here, the wide, open area allowed us to feel unconfined as we studied the many different groups wandering the square. We met some charming Mexican grandparents with their cute 2-year-old twin girls, who were attracting a lot of attention, and had a brief, friendly chat with them.

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The statue that dominates the large square.

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How does a sculptor mange to make hard, cold, bronze look so much like flesh? Amazing!

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A view of the city wall as it climbs the hill.

A pleasant rest with an ice cream on one of the benches, followed. Then more pictures of the city spread below across the river. Very lovely views.

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And a different view of the statue.

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The views from up here are simply stunning.

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Couldn’t resist this brightly coloured modern bike in this ancient setting.

As we were considering which route to use to descend, a young couple from America engaged in conversation with us. We learned of the best route down from their experience, which enabled us to descend in comfort whilst seeing more of this beautiful place.

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Sometimes, you just have to give in to the urge and do the ‘tourist’ thing.

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And, there we are; Florence viewed through a sculptured frame in the Rose Garden. I had to wait a good ten minutes to obtain a shot with no other people in it!

There’s a Rose Garden, with some sculptures, on the way back down and we paused there for a while as I tried to get a picture using one of the sculptures as a frame.

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View over the city from the Rose Garden.

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On the way back down, we came across a guy selling hats in the shade. Couldn’t help thinking he’d have done a lot more trade in the sunny square above!

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There’s the Ponte Vechio again. Hotel Balestri is the pale grey building just above the small tower in the foreground, right.

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I was amused by what someone had done to this road sign just outside a local trattoria.

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The climb past the ancient walls is quite steep and the walls rather impressive.

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This ancient olive caught my eye as we rested in its shade.

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Back on level ground, we sought somewhere to eat.

The route back down took us past older residential properties along winding narrow streets. At the bottom, we wandered along the side of the river (you can’t access the river itself for most of its route through the city, but there are a couple of access points that give visitors a chance to get closer and walk along parts of the riverbank rather than the roads). We found a pleasant trattoria, Pizzaria Dante, and had a light lunch and then wandered the river-side roads a little more before returning to the hotel for a brief siesta.

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An Italian Banksy, or maybe the real thing?

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We dared cross the Ponte Vechio on our way back to the hotel.

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The concrete weir that forms a lagoon near the Ponte A Vespucci.

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One of the smaller, quieter piazzas.

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Setting sun as we prepared for dinner.

Dinner was at Ristorante Toto again, where we met a brother and sister from Turkey; the young woman a student of sculpture and the young man studying finance. Both were concerned at the world in general and Erdogan’s restrictive and unjust rule in particular, and we had a long and wide-ranging chat with them over our meals.

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Those scooters get everywhere!

Another walk by the river before we settled down for the night after another interesting and fulfilling day.

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A beautiful end to a splendid day!

19 Responses to “Italy: Trip of a Lifetime. Part 7”

  1. Valerie Allison

    I have really enjoyed Stuart’s series so far but I have to say I found the juxtaposition of dialogue & photos in this post particularly confusing & irritating. I decided to ignore the photos & just read through all the text again. Then I went through the photos with their text . This greatly increased my enjoyment of the whole post & I’m glad I persevered.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • stuartaken

      A valid observation, Valerie. I’ve edited the post to make it less fragmented. Hope this makes it easier for visitors to read. Now I’ll go through the remaining posts and do the same!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      • Valerie Allison

        I found this layout much easier to follow & enjoy. Thank You for the wonderful memories.

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
        • stuartaken

          Thanks for the suggestion, Valerie. I’ve now also modified today’s post (Part 8) and will do the same for the rest over the next few days.

          Liked by 1 person

          Reply
  2. Darlene

    A fabulous day. Was that the real statue of David or a copy? It is amazing no matter what! You really made the most of this trip, ate like the locals and made friends with other travellers. That’s what memories are made of.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • stuartaken

      Thanks, Darlene. The ‘David’ in the picture is a copy (the ‘real’ one is inside a museum and the queues are very long) most art experts say there is so little difference between the original and this copy that the queue is not reaaly worth the time.
      We talked with a lot of different people, from many different places, and the most striking aspect of that cmmunication was just how similar we all are. Shame the world is full of folk looking for differences, when the similarities are so obvious, eh?

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      • Darlene

        I so agree. The more I travel the more I realize we are the same. And the differences make us unique and interesting.

        Like

        Reply
    • stuartaken

      Food is such a part of the locality, wherever you go, Bojana, that to ignoreit seems a real shame to me. Valerie, unfortunately, has a medical condition called disgusia, which is a distortion of the taste function. It renders a lot of food inedible to her, so she always has to go for the bland dishes. Even so, she’s willing to try most things at least once. I, on the other hand, can eat almost anything, and usually do!
      The frame was a great idea from the scuptor: placed in just the right area. The Rose Garden contains quite a number of sculptures, but we didn’t see them all as we’d dropped in only for a brief rest.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

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