5th May 2015
After a beautiful trip to Venezia it felt right to move on even though the Biennale was starting (world artists week), I had my pics and was now time to catch the train for my next port of call to Florence but when got round to buying it nearly cos €69 so I thought quick on my feet & I was in travel mode this time wasn't prepared to wait 4 hours so I split my journey into two parts which cost half the price and headed to Bologna. The stop off was an hour and there were no tourists which was a culture shock. Anyways as this was the fast train to Roma it was pretty special as it only took forty mins to arrive in florence.
This train would give any train at home a run for a money not only did I feel like I was travelling on the orient express but at lightning pace. Oh and I had a reserved seat which was brilliant.
As I departed the train I immediately felt the sticky humidity and having trousers was a travel no. Fortunately the place I was staying at was close by which after twenty minutes I eventually found. After meeting Guiseppe after the fifth tier of stairs I was greeted by a dream of a building idolised by unique artwork. As i was guided by Guiseppe I was impacted by the level of detail he had put into his place, the cleanliness and facilities were immaculate. A five star hotel would be lucky to compete with this. not only was the bedroom inviting having the option to dry my clothes out the window and to take time out was just what I needed, oh not forgetting the all important free wifi. Guiseppe could not have been nicer hosts as their level of knowledge and tips was great which will be shared.
After having a luxurious power shower I then got ready and retired the camera for the night letting me charge the much drained batteries, it was more of a scouting mission and to get my bearings on what Firenze has to offer.
One tip to all people who are planning or travelling citymapstogo is a great app and a godsend for adding pins and places as it downloads all the maps and info so can be used offline with gps.
It was now approaching 5pm so I headed out over the bridge to an area called San Spirito Square (a local spot) but didn't appear to be local as all that could be heard were American and French. On recommendation by Guiseppe I then tried a pasta bar and was not disappointed. l had tagliatelle and described in one word was belissimo.
After dinner caught up with footy (juve vs real) , walked the city for spots to check and to feel the city. The americans had invaded florence. well eventually getting back in the wee hours was good to experience florence's rock scene. oh & juve beat real which was great to see but my money's still on barca.
After a midday start, my plan was to shoot firenze, with the beautiful weather yesterday I had expected the same, I guess thats why I don't forecast the weather but when rain is not bitter like home, I'd call it tropical rain as is easily bearable. after travelling from Venice bang the shear size of this city astounds you as the landmarks are very poignant. I had planned on seeing uffizi & duomo but the queues stopped that and so I walked some more. On my way exploring I visited a gallery with breathtaking images hand painted by a guy called Hass Masa, took a few images of his habitat who had spent his 20 years in,I couldn't not and very thankful for his custom.
Each church I have been to, are fascinating to see as they are draped in wall to ceiling murals depicting Mary and Jesus & is very interesting. Once finding out the queues I then trekked my way to Michelangelo square where I was presented with a great 360 panoramic view of the city. This view was spectacular so I naturally waited for the sunset for three hours but was totally worth it as the sun set; the mist blew in from the valley and I got my twilight hour which I was delighted with. During the hours I met a few other photographers I had met in Venice and thankfully were great people, and I got a portrait done with Firenze behind.
Before I knew it it was 10 o'clock , had some pizza which literally blew me away, & not if it was hunger from being in sun all day but this was off the chain. I'm afraid by far the best i've ever tasted. With the moonlight out I ended up doing Firence by night which was another experience.
Florence By Night
After the great pizza I then proceeded over the bridge and got sucked into the sheer beauty, I then shot Uffici at night home to Michaveli,Raphael,Donatello & other inspired creators. As Ponte Vecchio was the next shot as I spent a good amount of time shooting Firenze most iconic monument, I then headed inwards to the city and shot David and Bargello which was surreal as was pretty empty except every now and then the Cabinerri would drive by. The story behind that is a tourist foolishly climbed onto david and broke the scroll he was holding so now the government have night patrols watching all the statues and prolific art museums, in Bargello Square; they were also filming the new Dan Brown movie so there was a great buzz in the city of seeing Daniel Craig and Tom Hanks, an insider leaked to me when I was out that she was early for filming, Tiredness now started kicking in but I couldn't not shoot Il Duomo so next image was taken. Now this is four in the mornin all you expect is a few drunkards, before I knew it I heard hundreds of voices and one of the most surreal experiences when shooting was these tour groups appeared out of nowhere speaking no english, I noticed the flags that appeared to be Coloumbian, and Bulgarian, was very zombie like as these groups were wide awake, i then waited for the blue hour and proceeded back to the apartment after sunrise, had a few hours kip as was checkin out in the morning for my next adventure.
After walking around Florence by night the anticipation of Toscana was too much so decided to hop on a bus to Siena, there was only so much tourist accents I could take, I felt more like being in Paris than Firence so I took the Siena rapida and arrived in record time but trying to find the accommodation wasted a bit. Siena is a 12 century town built inside a fort surrounded by defence walls and every street is steeped with Chiesa (churches) piazza (squares) Bargellos (towers ). but is tutti benne. The town all leads down to the round piazza . The town was founded by twelve families which are celebrated throughout Tuscany, if they were lucky each family was rewarded for their great work. there are two famous the Baroli & Girafe.
Must be a sign as my ancestors were related to the il Girafe so was great to experience the church they built. Every year Siena is well known for the horse races as was depicted in the bond movies.digressing a bit as I arrived I had some delicious pasta with bruschetta and wine for fifteen euros which kept me full till the night and met an American honeymoon couple from Toronto which were a delight to talk to, after enjoying my set menu I then explored Siena bought a mobile charger to charge camera batteries via usb and then checked out Santa Maria duomo which is a piece of beauty in architecture at the golden hour.Each texture was designed with the most minute detail which is cast out of marble.and really is a marvel to behold.
Once seeing the sunset over San Domingo chiesa, I headed back to my room on via Paridiso, taught some English and vice versa then headed out for the Siena nightlife which has to be said was much better than Florence but there were not too many English accents around. It turns out the top law universities and language universities are in Siena. I then headed back & took some night shots in the early hours, I was so excited about seeing the heart of Tuscany was ready to move.
May 8th, as had to check out at 11 I left my bag and proceeded to explore and find my answers about the il Girafe family while going into tourist mode. On recommendation from Dallas and Alana which I misquoted as Atlanta I headed after midday to il duomo, took some pics inside of the magnificent building, and a tour of the roof which was open to awe inspiring views.I then visited the library and palace de opera which was open to more panoramic views. I had judged the weather with great time.
For the first time on my trip I've gotten goosebumps, the beauty of the countryside here is phenomenally beautiful. The light has hit it at all the right places, pictures don't give it justice as the sheer simplicity and beauty is evident. A great time of year to visit as the farmers are making the best of the sunshine, with cut hay and did I mention the blue cloud sky, wowsher. The sunset will be memorable.