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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The big three cities of Tuscany. Each unique. Each well worth visiting, but for different reasons. For me, Siena is all about wandering its streets, hanging out in the Campo di Fiori, and climbing its towers. The Duomo is fantastic, of course, although I actually preferred the one in Orvieto, its close cousin.

Pisa struck me as the least interesting of the three. Sure, the tower is something to see, particularly in its location at the "Piazza del Miracoli" which is a magnificent collection of architecture, but otherwise - not so much. It was also the only place in Italy where I felt vaguely unsafe. There is a certain air to the city. It is a place where you just instinctively put your arm over your bag and mind the groups of people around.

Florence did not feel that way at all. Indeed, I enjoyed Florence more than any other city I was in. There are several reasons for this. The art is naturally number one. It is impossible to describe the treasures which are everywhere - largely in museums where photography is a no no. We had a perfect location and you can easily walk everywhere. And the shopping... oh my. Especially if you like leather goods: shoes, jackets, handbags, briefcases. I kept reasonable control of my credit card, so while it is not quite radioactive, it is certainly in need of a bit of a time-out.

I shall start with Siena, moving on to Pisa before finishing with Florence.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Siena - an overview

Siena was the great rival of Florence, right up until the 14th century. It was devastated by the Black Death and never really recovered. A conservative city. While the Renaissance was taking hold 80 or so km to the North, Siena held true to its past and was eclipsed by its neighbour. The Siennese school of art, was to me uninteresting. It seemed much like Byzantine work - unrealistic, flat, almost entirely concerned with religious subjects. There is none of the vibrancy, the humanity, of the art which was exploding in Florence.

Still, a beautiful, interesting city.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Siena - the Duomo

One of the most famous cathedrals in Italy. Remarkably, this huge edifice was intended to just be a small part of a much larger structure. A start was made on the larger building (which can still be seen) but having 3/4 of your population die in a plague sort of put a damper on the building plans. It is most famous for its inlaid floors, but I was unable to get any decent pictures of them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Siena - Campo

The piazza Di Campo in Siena is one of the finest medieval squares anywhere. A unique scallop shape and some very interesting buildings set it apart. I found it difficult to take photos that captured its size and shape (I needed a much wider angle lens). A crowded place to be sure, but a fabulous location to hang out having an aperitivo and watch the people in the square.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Pisa

Not much to say. The tower is mighty neat. It really does look like it is about to fall over. The other buildings lean as well, just not as precipitously. The square (more of a field really) where it is located was described by the Italian poet d'Annunzio as:

"the Ardea over the sky of Christ, over the meadow of Miracles"

Naturally, I had to climb up the tower. The top is something else - in North America there would be huge guard rails to prevent you from falling off - not here. It really does slope rather a lot.
 

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We spent a week in Florence a few years ago, and I still think it was one of our most amazing vacations. The artwork was truly beyond description- we spent hours wandering through the Ufizzi and Bargello, but perhaps the most amazing experience
(even for a devout atheist) was climbing up above the city to San Miniato al Monte, and listening to the monks there sing vespers.

I also became totally addicted to gelato.

Lucca is another lovely old walled city to check out on your next trip- very different from Sienna.

Your pix are absolutely bringing it back for me!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
saf-t said:
Lucca is another lovely old walled city to check out on your next trip- very different from Sienna.
I did get to Lucca, actually. Indeed, a lovely old walled city. The old city is very contained and the ramparts made for a great walk. I only have a few photos from there.

I'm taking a bit of a break from posting right now, so I probably won't get to the Florence shots until later tonight at the earliest. And yes, the art in Florence is impossible to describe. I spent four days there and barely scratched the surface. Really, you would need months.
 

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Oarsman, thank you for these killer reports!

1. For some strange reason, I find the city shots the most interresting even though I almost always prefer countrside to city. Maybe it`s because the cities you`ve been posting up are so much older and so very different from what I`m used to, while the variety of country around here can get somewhat close to your pics.
2. Holy cow! Those murals in the "Tuscan Sky" chapter! I thought the Orozco murals throughout Mexico were gory and morbid, but the Italians seem to have trumped him hundreds of years before he was born!
3. Are you ready for a 20t ring yet?
4. What are you trying to hide on the drive side of your bike? For some reason, you`ve got a dozen shots all of the same left side view and zero of the other side. Very suspicious.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
rodar y rodar said:
Oarsman, thank you for these killer reports!

3. Are you ready for a 20t ring yet?

4. What are you trying to hide on the drive side of your bike? For some reason, you`ve got a dozen shots all of the same left side view and zero of the other side. Very suspicious.
Not quite ready for a 20t ring. And you know, I never thought of the fact that my shots are from the non-drive side. Maybe because the bike is generally on the right hand side of the road facing the direction I am going? There is at least one drive side shot:
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Florence

I am not at all sure where to begin about Florence. Birthplace of the Renaissance, cradle of humanism, art around every corner. After combing through my many photos, I realized there are relatively few from my favourite city of this trip. This is no doubt because the majority of the art is located in places where photography is not allowed. And there are so many places: the Uffizi - a museum on par with the Louvre; Palazzo Vecchio - perhaps the grandest city hall on the planet; the Accademia - location of the David (and at the time I was there a very fine Mapplethorpe exhibit); the Bargello - sculpture upon sculpture upon sculpture. For some reason, I don't even have any pictures of the Ponte Vecchio - don't know why that is.

I shall begin with a few shots of the city itself - several are from Piazzale Michelangelo, which command a breathtaking panorama of the city. I also have included a few shots of the Duomo, yet another superb cathedral. Largest dome in the world when it was built. I spent a very interesting hour or two in the Museo del Duomo. Quite small, with only a "few" important pieces (like Donatello's Mary Magdelene, linked to below). It houses many of the original decorations of the Duomo as well as an exhibit about how it was built.

https://strambinha.files.wordpress.com/2006/02/Donatello1457_SaintMaryMagdalen.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Florence - public art

So, there is a fair bit of "public art" in Florence. Some not bad stuff, too :) . Most of the following sculptures are in the Piazza di Signoria, more particularly the Loggia di Lanzi. This is where David stood until 1874 or so before being taken inside the Accademia. A copy stands in the Piazza (but I was having a brain fart and have no in-focus pix). Another copy is in the Piazzale Michelangelo, and I have included a couple of shots of it.

Most of the art is in the museums and galleries though. The Uffizi is indescribable. It holds some of the greatest pieces of art of all time, including Botticelli's Birth of Venus and his Primavera. A few pieces by fellows such as Leonardo and Michelangelo as well. There is a Raphael or two lying about, not to mention a bunch of Titians and Carvaggios and this or that from a dutch fellow. A few links are below (but they are NOTHING compared to the originals):

https://theabysmal.files.wordpress.com/2007/04/botticelli_birth_venus1.jpg
https://cd7.e2bn.net/e2bn/leas/c99/schools/cd7/website/images/michelangelo-holy-family.jpg
https://www.mlahanas.de/Greeks/Mythology/RM/MedusaCaravaggio.jpg
https://www.cord.edu/faculty/andersod/rembrandt_oldman.jpg

The Bargello is just as chock-a-block full of important sculpture. A whole mess of Michelangelos and many other amazing pieces. Again, one or two links below:

https://lh3.ggpht.com/_R6GJILD6vPM/RwmXes2LMpI/AAAAAAAAAIk/6HQOrQmuAYY/PA070060.JPG
https://cfs8.blog.daum.net/image/18...fda&filename=Michelangelo_Bacchus_detail1.jpg

All I can say is if you have any interest in Renaissance and Mannerist art, you must go to Florence. The museums are open year-round so you can avoid the crowds (which actually weren't bad when I was there, at the beginning of October).
 

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I do love statues.

BTW I'm getting a little concerned about how you are going to adjust to being back a work after a vacation like that...... maybe you should just retire!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
MB1 said:
BTW I'm getting a little concerned about how you are going to adjust to being back a work after a vacation like that...... maybe you should just retire!
You are a very cruel man.... (as I put on my suit and tie and head off to that place I go to so I can afford to cycle around Tuscany :( )
 

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Nice photos, brought back honeymoon memories....

.....we had three weeks in the area, booked two nights in Rome when we arrived, then headed north with no reservations, in winter.

We planned on only one night in Lucca, but we loved it so much, being away from the tourist feel of both Pisa and Siena, we ended up staying in Lucca four days and nights. My favorite city in the world.

Check out Perugia if you have the time. Wonderful.
 

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oarsman said:
The piazza Di Campo in Siena is one of the finest medieval squares anywhere. A unique scallop shape and some very interesting buildings set it apart. I found it difficult to take photos that captured its size and shape (I needed a much wider angle lens). A crowded place to be sure, but a fabulous location to hang out having an aperitivo and watch the people in the square.
Oarsman I've been lurking in your first two photo essays with interest to put it lightly. I've been to Italy a bunch of times for business and several for pleasure, but it's a place that is nearly impossible to know fully. Hence the fascination I have with your trip. Good pictures. Never been to Siena; I do business near Florence. Your take on Siena being conservative is interesting though...... a primary love I have with Italy is the color, the earthy color. Your pix show that - would you ever highlight roofs of another place as much as you have with this Siena montage? The colors are primo. The building in the background in one of the lead pix of the curved piazza is so lush. I don't know how I'd take that slanted ground in that piazza in real life; sitting here looking at a picture I'd say it looks ...... unfriendly in an inegalitarian way.....
 

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oarsman said:
Not much to say. The tower is mighty neat. It really does look like it is about to fall over. The other buildings lean as well, just not as precipitously. The square (more of a field really) where it is located was described by the Italian poet d'Annunzio as:

"the Ardea over the sky of Christ, over the meadow of Miracles"

Naturally, I had to climb up the tower. The top is something else - in North America there would be huge guard rails to prevent you from falling off - not here. It really does slope rather a lot.
The day I climbed the tower once upon a time I was a bit sauced, and it was rainy wet. I've rarely been as scared as I was that day trying to not slip and fall to an undistinguished death as I manuvered aroung the wet, slanted, slippery as ice marble levels of the tower. This was not some fun house attraction, this was history far deeper and important than I could imagine.... who in the hell would even care when my body would be scraped off the ground below...... where the hell were the rails to keep me from falling? ....... Italy..... ya gotta love it. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Starliner said:
...... a primary love I have with Italy is the color, the earthy color. Your pix show that - would you ever highlight roofs of another place as much as you have with this Siena montage? The colors are primo. The building in the background in one of the lead pix of the curved piazza is so lush. I don't know how I'd take that slanted ground in that piazza in real life; sitting here looking at a picture I'd say it looks ...... unfriendly in an inegalitarian way.....
The colours are amazing, particularly the red bricks against the blue sky and green trees. I noticed that throughout Tuscany and Umbria. There is this unique quality to the light which is hard to capture. The buildings just seem to glow somehow, which I think is what makes the landscape, not just the cities, so special. It is this contrast of the cities, farmhouses and hilltop towns with the surrounding hills that is so appealing.

And... the slope in the Campo isn't too bad, though I suspect it all gets a little dicey during the Palio

https://sobreitalia.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/palio-de-siena.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Starliner said:
The day I climbed the tower once upon a time I was a bit sauced, and it was rainy wet.
I would not fancy scrambing around the top of the tower when it was wet. Those marble steps would be like ice...
 

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Thanks for posting these pictures. I particularly love the Florence at dusk photos. I spent time in Florence a few years ago and was thoroughly bowled over by the art, the food (Casa Lingua), the gelato, the monks at San Miniato (as mentioned by saf-t) and the view of the valley from the Piazzale Michelangelo. Did you spend any time in Fiesole? ahhh, the wood oven pizza! I've got to go back someday.
 
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