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From the Future to the Past in Florence

semi-overcast 18 °C

It's a long way from Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, to Milan, but we had a few hours stopover in Istanbul to admire the amazing new airport...


The airport is vast and when fully operational will be the biggest and busiest airport in the world. It serves 300 destinations from 6 runways and will have a capacity of 200 million passengers a year. It is so big it took us nearly 20 minutes to taxi to the gate from landing.
Milan airport is more manageable and in no time we were in the city centre for a one night stopover. We have blogged about historic Milan before but the modern city is also fascinating. These two apartment towers in the once decrepit Isola district are called Bosco Verticale, (vertical forests)...


The twin towers are completely covered with living trees and vegetation that provide shade in summer and shelter in winter. The reflections of the verdant towers in the nearby glass skyscrapers make an interesting environmental statement – will Bosco Verticale be the future of urban design?


Speaking of the future: at 300 kilometres an hour on a bullet train it's a short hop from Milan to Florence and we slipped back 700 years to visit one of the most recognisable historic buildings in the world: the beautiful Duomo (cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore ) in the centre of the city...


In Uzbekistan we became a little overwhelmed by the number of ecclesiastical buildings all similarly clad in blue tiles. But this is Italy – home of marble – so it's natural that this beautiful stone should be used for sacred constructions. However, the splendid white, green and red marble façade of Florence's Duomo is just that – a façade. The cathedral was begun in 1296 in the Gothic style to replace an earlier construction and it took 140 years to build. The famous brick dome was finally completed by 1436 by Filippo Brunelleschi. However, the incredible marble façade by Emilio De Fabris was added in the 19th century...


Alongside the Duomo is the Campanile (the Bell Tower) designed by Giotto and, just like the minarets of Uzbekistan, energetic visitors willing to wait in line can climb the 414 of steps to the top...


Next to the Duomo is the Baptistery. The most famous, and photographed, features of this building are the fabulous gilded doors. But there is a problem...


Yes – we are not alone. Although it is now November, and well past tourist season in the northern hemisphere, Florence is still heaving with visitors from all over the world. The line-up for the Duomo stretched halfway around the enormous building and similarly long queues formed outside the Campanile and Baptistery. There is much to see and do in Florence, but so many tourists seeing and doing it, that we thankfully have tickets to visit the most visited attraction,the Uffizi Gallery, tomorrow. In the meantime - how about some delicious panforte at one of the many pasticherias in the city..


Posted by Hawkson 09:57 Archived in Italy

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Love the towers covered with trees - Its amazing - how do they do that?

by Janet

What a building fest. So much fun. A number of cities appear to have at least one building covered in plant materials. So fascinating. Wonder what it would be like living in one.

by Sue Ftizwilson

Impressive airport for sure but I rate them all on how long the line up is at security.
Panforte? Yes! Hope you had it along with a real Italian espresso.

by R and B

That tower with the trees is amazing. Maybe you can build one when you get home.

by Keith

What an apartment building! Impressive for sure, but who rakes the leaves or sweeps the needles? Interestingly the architect’s illustration of one of new 11 towers planned on Musquem land at the south end of the Burrard street bridge shows it clad in significant greenery. A trend we are catching up on. 6000 people will live in vertical parks!

by Tom

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