Kathryn and Ken's European Vacation
All photos are the property of Ken Runquist and have been reduced in size for faster downloading.  The originals are 1280 x 960.  Contact me by email if you would like a larger size copy of any photo.
Day 42: Florence, Italy
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Day 36: Venice, Italy
Day 37: Venice, Italy
Day 38: Rome, Italy
Day 39: Rome, Italy
Day 40: Rome, Italy
Day 41: Rome Italy
Day 42: Florence, Italy
Day 43: Tirrenia (Pisa), Italy



Hotel Aurora


Warm but windy with a high of 20C


Day 42: Monday, October 16, 2006    Florence  (Firenze), Italy

Sculptures and More

We started off the day with complementary breakfast in the hotel.  We dragged our luggage two blocks to the train station.  When we got there we realized that Kenny had left the tickets back at the hotel so Kathryn ran back to get them while Kenny guarded the luggage again.  The train left at 10:30 am and we both slept for most of the 1.5 hour ride to Florence although what we did see was very beautiful.  After we disembarked the train, Kathryn disappeared for 40 minutes trying to find the hotel while Ken guarded all the luggage again.  She eventually found Hotel Aurora.  The lobby was on the third floor of a building  shared with other hotels, very near the train station.  Our room was half a block north, then one block west and around the corner; through the impressive wooden doors of the annex building (see photo in left margin), into the world's smallest elevator and up to fourth floor.  Our rooms weren't ready so we went on a walkabout.

Ken inside the really narrow elevator

Florence is the capital city of the region of Tuscany, Italy. From 1865 to 1870 the city was also the capital of the Kingdom of Italy. Florence lies on the Arno River and has a population of around 400,000 people, plus a suburban population in excess of 200,000 persons. TA center of medieval European trade and finance, the city is often considered the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance and was long ruled by the Medici family. Florence is also famous for its magnificent art and architecture. It is said that, of the 1,000 most important European artists of the second millennium, 350 lived or worked in Florence.  The city has also been called the Athens of the Middle Ages.

Kathryn had done an excellent job scheduling our 57-day trip and booking all the accommodation and transportation but she made one little mistake.  We arrived in Florence on a Monday and all the museums and pretty much everything else is closed in Florence on Mondays. 

Navigating the streets of Florence is a little tricky as it has red numbers (for shops and restaurants) and black numbers (for buildings, apartments and homes) and the street names change every few blocks.  For example, we started walking on the road along the Arno River.  Lungarno Amerigo Vespucci became Lungarno Corsi and then Lungarno Acciaiuoli by the time we reached the famous Ponte Vecchio (the Old Bridge).  The bridge has many jewelry shops on either side of the roadway.

Ponte Vecchio over the Arno River

We turned down Via per Santa Maria where Ken had his picture taken with a couple of Florentine cops.  We stopped for lunch of pizza, salad and beer in a small restaurant and then carried on to Piazza della Signoria. We first went by the Uffizi Gallery, which consists of a long open-ended corridor lined with busts and sculptures of eminent Italians.  Off both sides of the corridor are several rooms containing different kinds of art.  One end of the corridor opens onto Piazza della Signoria, an L-shaped square in front of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy. It is the focal point of the origin and of the history of the Florentine Republic and still maintains its reputation as the political hub of the city. It is the meeting place of Florentines as well as the numerous tourists. The square is filled with sculptures - including Michelangelo's David - by many Florentine artists.  Most of them are copies with the originals in local museums or galleries.  This is good as you can see the damage that acid rain and pollution has done to the copies.  Below are four of the sculptures -click on them for a larger view.

Michaelangelo's David

Bandinelli's Hercules (Hector) and Cacus

Giambologna's Rape of the Sabine Woman

Ammannati's Fountain of Neptune


We then proceeded down Via Calamala to Piazza del Duomo which is dominated by Europe's 4th largest cathedral, the Duomo.  Officially the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, Duomo is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Florence. 

The Duomo in Florence, Italy

The basilica is notable for its dome designed by Bruneleschi, its exterior facing of polychrome marble panels in various shades of green and pink bordered by white. The Square also includes a campanile (bell tower) and a Bapistry, which is noted for it's gold-plated bronze doors.  Because of its size and the closeness of other buildings, I could not get a full picture of Duomo.  I copied the photo at right from the Internet to give you some idea of its entirety and have included my photos of various parts in the slide show below.


We then walked to the San Lorenzo Market which was open this Monday.  It was rows and rows of small stalls selling mostly leather goods.  We then went back to the hotel for a long nap.  We got up and went to the McDonald's at the train station at 10:00 pm for dinner - meals in Florence are very expensive.  We were the only ones wearing shorts.  Back to bed and another good night's sleep.

Click here for a slide show of Day 42 photos.

Day 43

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