The train trip from Venice to Florence was enjoyable and rather quick. Before we knew it we had to gather up our luggage and jump off the train. By the time we had marched from the train carriage to just the end of the platform in the train station we were ready to put our bags down so catching a bus or walking was no longer an option. We headed to the taxi stand and loaded up. The taxi driver was a friendly guy and he spoke English fairly well. Later we walked the trip several times and without our luggage it’s a short walk of about 15 minutes.

Here are a few photos taken nearby our apartment:

Wk11B12A Florence 20120503_141958

Wk11B12A Florence 20120503_141946

Wk11B12A Florence 20120503_142014

We were delighted with our apartment which was very well laid out and had everything we needed. It was nice to have a clean, fresh, modem apartment. I am always a little apprehensive until we see the apartments we have booked in case they don’t live up to the photos and description. So far at week 12 we have only had two places that didn’t live up to our expectations so that’s not too bad.

Wk11B12A Florence 20120502_161629

Wk11B12A Florence 20120502_161722

On our first day we walked from the apartment down to Piazza della Signoria, the square in front of the Palazzo Vecchio, and on to Ponte Vecchio the famous bridge. This bridge and the Galileo Museum were about the only two things I could remember in Florence from our O.E. trip in 1994, apart from the wonderful ice cream we ate in the square.

Wk11B12A Florence 20120503_150829Wk11B12A Florence 20120503_152841

Wk11B12A Florence 20120503_153250Wk11B12A Florence 20120503_155518

Outside the Palazzo Vecchio is a copy of Michelangelo’s David statue and nearby is a gallery of statues, which to the untrained eye (well my eye anyway), seem like a bizarre collection of naked men in awkward looking poses that the kids were not shy about discussing. Personally I would rather have a gnome in my garden collection. Anyway, here are some photos of Florence which in case you were wondering was established in 59 B.C. by none other than Julius Caesar. So it’s been around longer than my hometown of Tauranga in New Zealand.

Amy and I went out for a walk one evening, here is our self portrait …

Wk11B12A Florence 20120507_194042 Wk11B12A Florence 20120507_194140

As mentioned the Galileo Museum, formally called the Institute and Museum of the History of Science, is in Florence. We arranged a tour for kids around it and all of us enjoyed it and found it fascinating. The web site is also excellent, has a virtual tour and a bunch of videos explaining various experiments and gadgets found at the museum. Here are a few photos:

Wk11B12A Florence Galileo 20120505_163315

Wk11B12A Florence Galileo 20120505_163744

Wk11B12A Florence Galileo 20120505_155648

Galileo lived between 1564 and 1642 and was born in Pisa, not far from Florence. He was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher. He was truly a remarkable person so I encourage you to read more about him at is the guy who wrote the book, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, in which he compares the Copernican system where the Earth and other planets orbit the Sun (heliocentrism) to the Ptolemaic system where everything in the Universe circles around the Earth (geocentrism). He got into big trouble with the church for this and spent the rest of his days under house arrest.

Of course I went on a run while in Florence and thanks to getting a little lost at the end I had to run for more than an hour. It was probably my most stressful run yet as Florence footpaths seem to all be narrow, bumpy, and crowded.

20120509 Camera Wk11B12A Florence Pete Run IMG_7033

On Tuesday the day before we left we caught a train to Pisa and after taking millions of photos we headed back to the train station. I should add, we intended to catch a bus to the train station but by then the bus service was on strike so we had to walk back. In fact there were about a dozen of us walking back together some of whom had to catch a train to the airport asap to catch a plane … so we walked fast.

20120509 Camera Wk11B12A Pisa Lucca IMG_7076

20120509 Camera Wk11B12A Pisa Lucca IMG_7034

By the way it is said that Galileo, conducting an experiment, dropped two cannon balls of different weights from the top of the tower of Pisa and found they both reached the ground at the same time. While the result of the experiment is a fact the cannon ball experiment from Pisa is probably a folk-tale.

After Pisa we caught a train to a wonderful city named Lucca, with population of approximately 85,000 people, which is famous for its Renaissance-era city walls. The city itself reminded me of Carcassonne in France. To date Lucca would have to be one of our favourite cities visited. We only had an hour and a half to spare so we hired bikes and had a marvellous time biking around the city and then on top of part of the city walls.

20120509 Camera Wk11B12A Pisa Lucca IMG_7134

Wk11B12A Pisa Lucca 20120508_150305

Wk11B12A Pisa Lucca 20120508_151057

We arrived home from Lucca tired but we really wanted to have one last walk down past the Dome and to the square Piazza della Signoria. It was getting late and dark but we sat on the steps of Palazzo Vecchio listening to an awesome classical guitar performance. It was a nice way to spend our last night but we were getting cold so headed back to our apartment.

The next day we load up our gear, caught a taxi to the train station ready for Rome.

20120511 PC Wk12B13A Rome 20120509_124538

The photo below was taken at the Florence train station, one small bag is mine, the rest are Karen’s!

20120511 PC Wk12B13A Rome 20120509_124438

(Week 11B-12A: Wednesday 2nd May 2012 – Wednesday 9th May 2012.)