Florence + Siena

The two major cities I visited in Tuscany were Florence and Siena, both of which were small enough to have neither metros nor trams.  I enjoy visiting places so small that you can walk across them in a comfortable amount of time without the use of public transportation.  Some cities are so large and overwhelming that you feel you will never be able to see it all in the time you are there (which can sometimes be a good thing, bringing you back for more).  Florence is definitely one of the must-visits while you are in Italy, but be prepared for ridiculously hot temperatures if you are there in the summer (at least this past summer and from what I’ve heard in general).  Florence is known for being the birthplace of the Renaissance in Europe, and displays a wide variety of artwork in its numerous museums.  In addition to the museums, Florence also has a number of architectural elements to see.

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THE view of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo.  I came up here to observe the city three separate times in one day (day/sunset/nighttime).  If you do one thing in Florence (other than visiting Il Duomo), it should be hiking up here with a bottle of wine to take in the city in its entirety.

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I’ve seen a lot of buildings, churches, and castles throughout Europe, but not one has left the impression on me that Il Duomo has.   Before Florence, I had only seen images of the dome, but there is so much more.  It is massive, huge, gigantic, and the unimaginable detail continues throughout the entire building.  Buildings do not usually impressive me as much as natural landscapes, but I was completely blown away by the Duomo.

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The bridge off in the distance is the Ponte Vecchio, another favorite of tourists.

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Piazzale Michelangelo at sunset.  *Ideal time to bring up a bottle of wine and watch the sun go down.  Be sure to get up there early and claim your spot though, it’s very popular.

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And at night.  First attempt at nighttime photography sans tripod.  Simply amazing.

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A *small* part of Ill Duomo at night.  It is huge.

 Siena was also an interesting city to visit, but it is obvious that it does not have the energy or history that Florence contains.  Perched on top of a hill, the city offers some interesting walks through its narrow, hilly streets. I feel that while Siena is a good place to set up camp in order to reach some of the smaller villages in Tuscany, your time would be better spent exploring Florence for a few extra days.

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Torre del Mangia in Siena.  While I feel there isn’t much to see in Siena, a climb up the bell tower is definitely worth the trip.

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View of Siena and the cathedral from the bell tower Siena-9

More of Siena and the surrounding countryside.  I like this photo because you can kind of make out the winding streets and how the buildings are pushed up right against them.  It definitely makes for an interesting, medieval walking experience.

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Something about green shutters, they are everywhere in Italy and Croatia.

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View of the bell tower from inside the courtyard.

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Piazza del Campo in Siena, the main public space.  Very active place with nice areas for dining around the outside.  An interesting plaza because it contains no stairs and instead slopes down to the center.  A very popular horserace, the Palio di Siena, is held here twice a year on July 2 and August 16.

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