A Travellerspoint blog

Monday and we did a half day tour of Florence

and headed to Pisa in the afternoon

sunny 32 °C

We were up and keen to get into exploring Florence proper. We had a guided tour of Florence booked as seen through the eyes of Dan Brown’s novel Inferno, which in turn was partly inspired by Dante’s poem, The Divine Comedy. We had not read the novel, nor the poem. But we had googled Dante and his poem, so had some background.

The tour was basically a guided look through the Palace de Vecchio, or as it also known, the Old Palace. Part of the tour included some of the hidden passages within the Palace, which were described in Dan Brown’s book.

The Palace has had several uses over the centuries, but is probably best known for being the Palace of the Banking and Merchant family, Medici, who became the self appointed Dukes of Tuscany, until their lack of heirs, bought an end to their reign. It is now both the Town Hall/ Council chambers and a museum.

The main hall, was a beautiful room, full of sculptures, frescos on the walls and a wooden fresco painted ceiling. The bulk of the art work was done by Giorgio Vasari who also engineered the “false” ceiling, to not only support the roof, but also hold up the wooden panels.


Part of our tour included climbing up into the ceiling to see the supporting structures. Each panel is independently supported, and can be removed individually to be cleaned.


The inside of the ceiling is an important part in the novel.

We then made our way down to see Dante’s Mask, which was also a very important part of the book.


We then walked the streets of Florence to the Church where Dante first saw and met the woman, Beatrice Portinari, with whom he instantly fell in love with. He only ever met her once again, so his love for her was never able to be acted upon.

It is this woman Beatrice Portinari that it is thought guides Dante through heaven in his poem, The Divine Comedy.

We then moved onto the Baptistery of St John the Baptist, the oldest building in Florence, opened in 1128. This is a separate structure from the Cathedral del Duomo. As the name suggests, this is where Florentine christians were baptised to allow them the right of passage into del Duomo. The door through which they pass as the leave the Baptistery to cross the Piazza into the Cathedral is known as the door of Paradise.


The mosaics within the Baptistery are thought to have inspired Dante to write the Divine Comedy.

By then it was time to go back to our apartment to make our lunch, to eat on the train on our way out to Pisa, which is about an hour out of Florence on the slow moving regional line. As we made our 30 minute walk to the tower, Pisa was instantly nominated for the prize of being the worst town we have visited. It had that same lingering aroma that wafted gently on the breeze that reminded us of Avignon. But 10 times worse. The town looked to be in decline, and was full of some dodgy looking characters

The girls did not feel comfortable.


Then we saw the Tower. It really is a must see. It has been beautifully cleaned, and the setting within the church yard, and the rest of the church itself was well worth the visit. It was 30 degrees, we were tired, and had no desire to go into the church or up the tower.

Instead we took the obligatory photos, then collapsed on the grass in the shade of the tower.


Threw off our shoes and rested up for 20 minutes or so, before the sun reappeared from behind the the tower.


So we walked back to the train station, sat down at a Gelato selling shop and sampled their wares in the shade of a balcony, with clean smelling air.

Then back on the train to Florence.

Pisa in spite of its beautiful tower is not a place to linger. Must see the Tower, yes. But see and go…. so we did.

Back to our apartment, for ham, salad and spuds. Not sure why, but we had a late night, and finally fell into bed around 11.00 pm.

Posted by Touringteamf 10:18 Archived in Italy

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Shame you didn't go up the tower - really unusual sensations.

by Erin

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