Day Four: Rome to Siena and Florence
What a delight it was to arrive in the beautiful, once walled city, of Siena! It is like stepping back in time and viewing life in mediaeval times – cobbled streets and brick buildings hugging each other close on the sloping road up to the square. A guide once again was keen to bestow on us the potted history of the town and regale us with the story of the Palio – the wildest, most revered and dangerous horse ride held in August each year. Each family will select a rider and he will dress in costume, lead the horse to the church for a blessing and then line up with dozens of others ready to gallop at full speed three times round the public square. The race takes place at 7 pm in the cool of the evening and is viewed by thousands of people, natives and visitors enthusiastically. What a pity we will miss it!
A walk up to the beautiful church capped off our visit to Siena and this would have to be one of the most beautiful examples of Baroque architecture we have seen. Check our picture Below.
We then drove on to Florence, the jewel of Italy, gleaming in the sun! The many towers and turrets were highlights on the horizon as we stopped to view from the hill. Our arrival at the Hotel Balestri was complex to negotiate – narrow streets prevented our coach from dropping us off out front – so a short walk in the late afternoon was required. After awaiting our allocated rooms we could observe the Hotel facilities and be reassured that this was 4 star accommodation! (Note: it can be rewarding to wait until last for our room keys, as we scored a corner suite on the fourth floor with a view of the Ponte Vecchio and the river! Gorgeous!
Day Five: Florence
An early morning walk to the bridge afforded us the view of the many tiny little shops all hanging onto the lower section of the bridge like elegant barnacles. The gold shops were shuttered and dark when we first visited, the streets had been washed clean – all were awaiting the throngs of tourists soon to descend like locusts – perhaps a few well heeled would buy the gold from the merchants here!
Back to Balestri to join the group for a walking tour through the streets of Florence. Our major objective was to gaze upon the marble statue of David by Michaelangelo, located in the Academi Museum! This is a beautiful piece of art, now 519 years old, carved from one piece of solid pure white marble. It is a tribute to the anatomy of man – every muscle and sinew depicted on the limbs of David – and with just one adornment, his sling shot. We merged into the crowds who were as enthralled with this masterpiece as we were.
Florence is still really hot and we struggled a bit with walking in the heat and opted for r and r back at Balestri for the afternoon – Alex suffered a little from heatstroke, so I waited until evening to stroll along the walkway beside the river to capture some photos of the Ponte Vecchio at sunset! Gorgeous!
Tomorrow we head north again for Cinque Terra!