Faced with a 2 week hiatus in my planned activities I decided on an impromptu walk from Siena to Florence. This commenced in Siena through Vagliagli, Gaoile, Panzano, Strada-in-Chianti and arriving 5 days later in Florence.
It was altogether too hot to be comfortable with the Gaoile-Panzano stretch of 25k and 900m cumulative ascent being the toughest. Temperature was around 28-30, breezeless and some long sections without shade. A few flowers, plenty of vineyards and flowering olive groves and, of course, stone and terracotta villas with cypress pines.
I saw some deer, hares and a wild boar piglet. I passed through the town of Impruneta and along a street named Via Ho Chi Minh. According to Google Maps there are 6 other similarly named streets in Italy.
I gave route planning over to my hiking app (there are plenty available on the Net) which did quite a good job of finding a way through the myriad of rural roads and tracks whilst keeping away as much as possible from trafficked roads. But I'm sure the route could have been more scenic with the benefit of local knowledge.
Spent a day and 2 nights in Florence. The emblematic Ponte Vecchio might have a long history but today it's just a motley collection of small miserable buildings on an unremarkable bridge lined with chintzy jewellery shops. Give me the Charles Bridge in Prague any day.
The cathedral and bell tower are impressive classic Renaissance but I didn't brave the queues to go in.
These are massive buildings and, as with the Gaudy cathedral in Barcelona, one marvels at the courage of those who made the decision to build them in the almost certain knowledge that they wouldn't be finished in their lifetimes. These people should be as celebrated as the architects themselves. Even today they would be very significant undertakings.
But mostly, I find Renaissance dreary stuff - outside the Uffizi Gallery is a colonnaded piazzale lined with statutes of notable locals and mythological themes - all of which exhibit only varying degrees of agony - no joy or humour here. Even David frowns off into the distance. I guess he has a big job ahead of him. But the pigeon seemed happy enough.
And Florence seems stuck in the Renaissance - I looked for a gallery/museum of contemporary art - there isn't one. It's all Renaissance, post-Renaissance and neo Renaissance.
The central market is a large lively place with all sorts of produce - large heaps of freshly sliced porcine mushrooms give off an earthy bacon aroma.
The market is housed in a building built in 1874. Style? Neo-renaissance.