Tourist trap

For the first time on my blog, I am welcoming a guest blogger. Johanne is responding to today’s prompt from 365 Days of Writing Prompts.

My favourite place on the planet is Florence which I have been lucky enough to visit on two occasions.  It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what I love about it but I’ll try to explain why it means so much to me.

Arriving in Florence isn’t as straight forward as arriving in many major cities.  There is an airport there but most flights arrive in Pisa, 43 miles away.  The easiest way to make the trip is by train.  Pisa airport is typical of modern airports – large, glass and metal, impersonal.  On exiting through huge sliding glass doors you find yourself on the platform of the train station which is a dead-end and looks from a previous time.  There is a machine to dispense tickets and a few benches to perch on while waiting.

The train journey takes about an hour and the train rumbles sedately through a series of villages and towns on the way to Florence.   Cascina,  Pontedera, Empoli.  At each station a variety of people get on and off – students from the universities of Pisa and Florence, business people returning home, groups of shoppers laden with bags from markets and designer boutiques and, of course travellers like us heading to Florence.  As we pull in to each station I get a small thrill knowing that we are getting closer to our destination and that magical moment when I see the sign saying Firenze on the platform.

Santa Maria Novella station is a contrast to Pisa station.  It is a large bustling station with multiple platforms, booming announcements in rapid Italian and crowds of people rushing to their destinations.  On exiting you are in the wonderful city of Florence – well, perhaps not the most wonderful part but Florence nonetheless.

I don’t know the area of Santa Maria Novella well, we tend to rush through it on our way to central Florence butt here is a rather magnificent black and white façaded church there which I will have to visit one day, especially as it has frescos by one of my favourite Renaissance artists, Filippino Lippi.

We have been lucky enough to stay close to the Duomo on both our visits.  This masterpiece of Renaissance architecture dominates the city; there are few places in Florence where you can’t get a glimpse of Brunelleschi’s dome.  You can climb the dome and get a fantastic view across Florence – I admit that I haven’t done this but my husband has and the photographs are stunning.  I prefer to wander round the Duomo drinking in the wonderful works of art by Uccello, Donatello, Della Robbia, and Zuccaro.

File:Santa Maria del Fiore.jpg

(Photo credit  Enne at the Italian Wikipedia project http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Santa_Maria_del_Fiore.jpg)

Florence is a wonderful place for art lovers.  It’s practically impossible to turn a corner without bumping into a beautiful vista, a gorgeous sculpture or some stunning architecture.  I particularly love the Brancacci Chapel in the church of Santa Maria del Carmine.  It has the most stunning frescos by Masaccio and Lippi depicting Biblical scenes.  Now religious imagery isn’t for everyone and there is a lot of it in Florence but these frescos are truly wonderful.  The depiction of pain and loss on the faces of Adam and Eve on being expelled from the Garden of Eden is breathtaking.  The colours on these frescos, which are over 600 years old, are bright and vibrant and the faces are beautifully painted, obviously using contemporaries of the artists as models.  I often wonder how the model felt about being painted as St Peter or Jesus.

There are too many sights in Florence for me to write about here.  It is truly a stunning city which I plan to visit many more times in the future and I still won’t scratch its surface.  Now, where did I put the guide book to plan my next trip?


Thank you Johanne for telling us about Florence. Johanne has another blog here. Perhaps you’d like to follow one of her blogs.

I hope you enjoyed reading about Florence as much as I did.  Have you been to Florence?

The prompt from 365 Days of Writing Prompts was:-

Tourist trap

What’s your dream tourist destination — either a place you’ve been and loved, or a place you’d love to visit? What about it speaks to you?

Posts by others for this prompt.





A list of ten things

For today’s post for the Blog Every Day in November Challenge, Elizabeth has asked us to make a list of ten things.

Update 8 Nov.  A blogging friend just posted some lovely photos of Canterbury Cathedral, which complement this post.

I wondered about picking ten random items I could find in my living room.  I didn’t think that would make an interesting post, so I have decided to write about ten things to be found in most church buildings in the Anglican Church (and some other denominations).

  1. Font The Font is usually near the door of the church.  It is a container for the water used in baptism of babies and older believers.  (Nowadays Baptisms, otherwise known as Christenings, often take place using a portable font in front of the pews.)
  2. Pew Pews are where the congregation sits.  In olden days the pews were enclosed with a door on the end.  Families might have their own pew.  Nowadays in many churches and cathedrals chairs are replacing pews.
  3. Window There are often beautiful pictures on the windows, which use stained glass to tell stories from the Bible.
  4. Altar At the East end of the church there is a Communion Table or Altar.  Communicants kneel before the altar to receive the sacrament of Bread and Wine.
  5. Aisle The aisle is the central passageway between the pews.  It is the route taken by a bride and has given rise to the expression “Walking down the aisle” to mean getting married.  There may be side aisles as well and a large church building has more pews beyond the side aisles.
  6. Nave The Nave is the part of the church which includes the congregation’s seating.  It is a similar word to naval, concerning ships.  The inside of the roof of the nave resembles the construction of a ship (upside-down).
  7. Chancel The Chancel is the area to the east of the Nave.  It usually includes the organ and the choir stalls as well as the altar behind the altar rail. There is a chancel step as the Chancel is at a higher level than the nave.
  8. Transept Most churches are built in the shape of a cross.  There is a wider section at the join between the nave and the chancel.  This is known as the Transept.  Trans means across.  Septum means partition.  In some churches there is a physical partition in the transept – a rood screen.  (Rood is an archaic word for the Cross of Christ.)   A lectern, from which the Bible is read and the pulpit, from which sermons are preached are often sited in the transept.
  9. Chapel  There may also be a Chapel in the area adjacent to the chancel.  This is like a church within a church.  Often it is dedicated to St Mary the Virgin and referred to as the Lady Chapel.
  10. Cross  Every Christian church building has at least one cross.  There is a cross on or near each altar.  There may be a processional cross, which is on a long pole and carried in front of the procession of choir and clergy.  Some of the windows may also depict the cross.  It is central to the Christian faith.  Without Christ’s incarnation (commemorated at Christmas), death on the cross, resurrection to life and ascension into heaven, there would be no forgiveness or redemption.

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Visit christianity.org.uk to find out more about Jesus Christ and the Christian faith