Genoa was a port we’ve come to identify with Christopher Columbus.
Following pics are of a statue near the port, his home & a garden nearby.
Here are a few pics of Genoa.
An overnite in Lucca was next.
Lucca is well known as the birthplace of Puccini, often considered the most famous Italian opera composer. He wrote 14 operas, most of which are performed today. Lucca’s international festival (Puccini e la Sua Lucca) is supposedly the only permanent festival in the world, meaning that every night of the year, with no interruption, there is Puccini’s music waiting for you to be heard.
This event occurs in the church where he was baptized, where he played the organ as the Church Musician. Listening to performance in a medieval church (Church of San Giovanni) is always memorable. Here’s the website in case you’re planning a trip to Lucca (www.puccinielasualucca.com).
We had to have a typical Italian meal….pizza!
We stayed in a Sheraton Hotel close to a highway, close to Firenze, close to Tuscany. We return to the same location because it is an excellent one. Service is fantastic, we’ve come to know the staff, who are always professional & helpful. And we’ll definitely return, especially since Firenze is one of our most favorite cities in Italy.
A visit to Firenze is never complete without a visit to Il Duomo, whether during the day or at night. This is a setting for incredible architecture, outside & in, reflecting the spirituality, the religious fervor & the devotion to Catholicism that was present during the Medieval & Renaissance periods of time. The square is called the Piazza of San giovanni, Cathedrl San Giovanni & Piazza del Duomo, which includes the Baptistery of San Giovanni, The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (the Duomo), & several other historical sites (museum, rectory, palace, columns from Pisa, which are not pictured below).
A historical overview is not included here, but rather a pictorial experience. We have been here many times & always are in awe of the architecture, the artistry, the craftsmanship, & the historical depiction of things religious.
Two of our favorite meals once again:
The Mercado Centrale is worth a repeat visit. It is near the train station in the heart of Firenze. The inside market site is frequented by the locals who know where to shop. Following are several pics from there.
There’s a permanent outside market as well; it occupies several streets filled with vendors selling all things Firenze, e.g., leather goods, scarves, souvenirs. We try to visit as many outdoor markets as we can when we travel.
The store owner was very happy to see me make the purchase.
We love exploring the areas where the locals meet for their meals. One pleasant place was called Cafe Riccio in the Santo Spirito part of Firenze. We were thoroughly surprised by the presentation of the fresh seafood meal served aflame, then fileted at the table.
Each time we visit Firenze we find one more historical building to explore. We spent a lot of time inside the Museo Palazzo Vecchio. Originally built in 1299, it became the home of the Medici family for 9 years, including Leo X & extended family members. Room after royal room is filled with paintings & sculptures portraying tributes to family royalty.
Ponte Vecchio bridge is known for its beautiful jewelry stores & antique stores, each laden with things glimmering & shimmering, but mostly gold.
Following are some pics from San Gigmignano, another one of our favorite towns. We first discovered this walled medieval city several years ago when the number of tourists was much less. Now it’s definitely a destination location for the Tuscany traveler.
Continue scrolling for more scenic pics of the Tuscany countryside.
Siena’s Duomo is is seen from a distance.
This year we returned to visit Castellina in Chianti, Panzano & Impruneta, especially since the countryside is spectacular. Refreshing, colorful, picturesque. We enjoy this part of driving so very much.
In the past we’ve attended wine festivals in Panzano, as well as Greve in Chianti. Other pics for those events will be found in our Fotos from previous years. We always return to enjoy Rum Baba in Panzano at the Bar Sieni! It’s the only place we’ve ever found that makes it as delicious as we like it.
Last year, while attending a Panzano wine festival, we met a couple from Austria who advised us to attend a Wine Festival in Impruneta. So we planned our trip to include this event, the Festa dell’Uva (festival of the grape). The wine was not the highlight, but rather a parade representing 4 riones (subdivisions) of the town of Impruneta. Hundreds of participants were costumed to represent the seasons, the grapes, the wine, the wind, the grappa…all walking/dancing/performing for judges & attendees. Every parade float was made with grapes, some the largest & freshest we’ve seen. This was a stimulating visual experience which took hours to enjoy.
Our yearly trip to Italy this time followed Baltic & Mediterranean cruises to many cities & countries we’ve never been, as well as some we have. The cities included Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, Oslo, Amsterdam, Tallin (Estonia), Gdansk (Poland), St. Petersburg (Russia), & also London, Normandy, Lisbon, Barcelona, Cannes. Many were historically interesting, romantic, picturesque. We’ll return to several, yet our hearts are always in Italy first.