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Stunning pictures in STONE! Pietre Dure Museum

I was originally headed for somewhere different entirely, but ended up wandering off and exploring a most extraordinary museum!  Along the way, some beautiful sights…

I have wanted to go here for ages!  The Pietre Dure Museo – essentially pictures made from stone!

~ Bella

Gucci Garden

The Gucci Garden Museum is dedicated to the iconic Italian fashion house, and includes classic Gucci clothing & handbag exhibits as well as an incredible room of mirrors!

I must admit, for me, it was in the category of sensory-overload and I didn’t explore the entire museum – but there were countless young people selfie-ing their way through…  It was an ‘interesting’ experience.


Piazza della Repubblica

Complete with stunning architecture, live music, and a carousel, visiting the Piazza della Repubblica was a wonderful experience!

“Piazza della Repubblica is a circular piazza in Rome, at the summit of the Viminal Hill, next to the Termini station. On it is to be found Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri. It is served by the Repubblica – Teatro dell’Opera Metro station. From the square starts one of the main streets of Rome, Via Nazionale. The former name of the piazza, Piazza dell’Esedra, still very common today, originates in the large exedra of the baths of Diocletian, which gives the piazza its shape. The exedra present in the baths of Diocletian was incorporated into the gardens built by Cardinal Jean du Bellay; on his death in 1560, the land was purchased by Cardinal Carlo Borromeo, and eventually came into the possession of Cardinal Alessandro Sforza in 1579. Between 1598 and 1600 the exedra was converted into a church. Then, in 1885, the Via Nazionale cut through the centre of this structure. The porticos around the piazza, built in 1887–98 by Gaetano Koch, were in memory of the ancient buildings on the same sites, while the basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri on the piazza is based on a wing of the baths (with its architect Michelangelo, using the tepidarium as one of the wings of its spacious Greek cross plan).”  Wikipedia

~ Bella

Ponte Vecchio

Walking across the iconic Ponte Vecchio was like entering another world…

“The Ponte Vecchio (“Old Bridge”, Italian pronunciation: [ˈponte ˈvɛkkjo]) is a medieval stone closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge over the Arno River, in Florence, Italy. The only bridge in Florence spared from destruction during the Second World War, it is noted for the shops built along it; building shops on such bridges was once a common practice. Butchers, tanners, and farmers initially occupied the shops; the present tenants are jewelers, art dealers, and souvenir sellers.[3] The Ponte Vecchio’s two neighboring bridges are the Ponte Santa Trinita and the Ponte alle Grazie. The bridge connects via Por Santa Maria (Lungarno degli Acciaiuoli and Lungarno degli Archibusieri) to via de ‘Guicciardini (Borgo San Jacopo and via de’ Bardi). The name was given to what was the oldest Florentine bridge when the bridge to the Carraia was built, then called “Ponte Nuovo” in contrast to the pons Vetus. Beyond the historical value, the bridge over time has played a central role in the city road system, starting from when it connected the Roman Florentia with the Via Cassia Nuova commissioned by the emperor Hadrian in 123 AD. In contemporary times, despite being closed to vehicular traffic, the bridge is crossed by a considerable pedestrian flow generated both by the notoriety of the place itself and by the fact that it connects places of high tourist interest on the two banks of the river: piazza del Duomo, piazza della Signoria on one side with the area of Palazzo Pitti and Santo Spirito in the Oltrarno. The bridge appears in the list drawn up in 1901 by the General Directorate of Antiquities and Fine Arts, as a monumental building to be considered national artistic heritage.” Wikipedia


~ Bella

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and the Baptistry of St John

It was truly amazing even walking toward this iconic cathedral  There are countless videos, books, etc on how the dome was constructed, so I won’t reiterate the details here – but this is what Wikipedia has to say, in case this area is new to you:

“Florence Cathedral, formally the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (Italian pronunciation: [katteˈdraːle di ˈsanta maˈriːa del ˈfjoːre]; in English Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower), is the cathedral of Florence, Italy (Italian: Duomo di Firenze). It was begun in 1296 in the Gothic style to a design of Arnolfo di Cambio and was structurally completed by 1436, with the dome engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi.[1] The exterior of the basilica is faced with polychrome marble panels in various shades of green and pink, bordered by white, and has an elaborate 19th-century Gothic Revival façade by Emilio De Fabris. The cathedral complex, in Piazza del Duomo, includes the Baptistery and Giotto’s Campanile. These three buildings are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site covering the historic centre of Florence and are a major tourist attraction of Tuscany. The basilica is one of Italy’s largest churches, and until the development of new structural materials in the modern era, the dome was the largest in the world. It remains the largest brick dome ever constructed. The cathedral is the mother church of the Archdiocese of Florence, whose archbishop is Giuseppe Betori. The unreinforced masonry that Brunelleschi used to construct the dome is weak in tension which leads to cracking when tensile stresses exceed the limited masonry tensile strength. The material is especially susceptible to damage from seismic loading due to its heterogeneity and many surfaces between different materials (stones to mortar connection).[40] Cracking of the dome was observed even before its construction was completed. It is possible that the first cracks were caused by a strong earthquake in 1453.”


Basilica di San Lorenzo

The Basilica di San Lorenzo is one of the largest churches of Florence, Italy. It is right near the centre of the main market district of Florence, and it is the burial place of all the principal members of the Medici family from Cosimo il Vecchio to Cosimo III.



Museo di Palazzo Vecchio

The stunning Palazzo Vecchio is the town hall of Florence, Italy.

It looks out onto the Piazza della Signoria (I cover that in a separate post).

For me, the most impressive part of the building (goodness, there are SOOO many impressive features!) is The Salone dei Cinquecento (‘Hall of the Five Hundred’). It was built in 1494 by Simone del Pollaiolo. Just – WOW!

Michelangelo’s David also stood at the entrance from its completion in 1504 to 1873, when it was moved to the accademia Gallery. A replica erected in 1910 now stands in its place.

There is a famous story of one disaster (ref Wikipedia) – “Leonardo was commissioned in 1503 to paint one long wall with a battle scene celebrating a famous Florentine victory. He was always trying new methods and materials and decided to mix wax into his pigments. Da Vinci had finished painting part of the wall, but it was not drying fast enough, so he brought in braziers stoked with hot coals to try to hurry the process. As others watched in horror, the wax in the fresco melted under the intense heat and the colors ran down the walls to puddle on the floor.”


~ Bella

American Diner in the historic district of Florence?

Welcome to the 1950s!



An American Diner restaurant in this historic district of Florence, Italy.

One of the last things I would have expected to see in Florence was an American Diner – complete with servers on roller-skates!

A lot of people come to Tuscany for the Italian food – but if you’re from the States and you need a Tex-Mex fix, or a good old fashioned hamburger, this is the place for you.

As long as you don’t look out of the windows at the view, and don’t listen to everyone speaking Italian (or the Italian menu), you could imagine yourself transported back to rock and roll 1950s USA.



Piazza della Signoria

Piazza della Signoria

This amazing space was named after the Palazzo della Signoria, also called Palazzo Vecchio (or Old Palace).

Here you will find the Palazzo Vecchio, that is also the Town Hall, the Loggia dei Lanzi, The Tribunale della Mercanzia (Tribunal of Merchandise), Palazzo Uguccioni, the Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali, a replica of the statue of David, the Fountain of Neptune, and the statue of Cosimo Medici on his horse. 

How’s this for history – In 1385 it was paved for the first time!

Here is the video, and the photos are underneath.  Enjoy!



~ Bella

Piazza di San Firenze

Piazza di San Firenze

Located behind Palazzo Vecchio and close to Bargello, Piazza di San Firenze was named after a building dedicated to St. Florenzo. It was originally designed in the 15th century by Giuliano da San Gallo and expanded in the 19th century.

In 1994, during roadworks, a section of Roman walls and a tower were discovered under the piazza’s pavement.

The sculptures are by Antonio Signorini, a Tuscany-born artist.

Here is the video – the individual photos are below:



Piazza di San Firenze Piazza di San Firenze Piazza di San Firenze Piazza di San Firenze Piazza di San Firenze

~ Bella