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Claudiu Moga

Grand bicycle tour in Italy from 2011

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Now it's time to go to visit Piazza della Signoria.

We are in the historic center of Florence that was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1982.

Here I gaze at plenty of masterpieces.

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Great statues of great masters.

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This is David, the masterpiece of Michelangelo. Actually, it's a copy.

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In this unique place I see lots of bicyclists and students.

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Soon I have the privilege to admire Palazzo Vechio.

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I wander a bit on the old cobbled streets in the historic center.

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All of a sudden I come across the palace where Dante Aligheri used to live.

I read Divina Comedia in english when I was a student.

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Now It's time for me to catch a glimpse of the Uffizi Gallery, a real treat for my inquisitive soul!

La Nascita di Venere - Sandro Botticelli

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Lorenzo de Medici -1 January 1449 – 8 April 1492) was an Italian statesman, de facto ruler of the Florentine Republic and the most powerful and enthusiastic patron of Renaissance culture in Italy.

Also known as Lorenzo the Magnificent (Lorenzo il Magnifico by contemporary Florentines, he was a magnate, diplomat, politician and patron of scholars, artists, and poets.

As a patron, he is best known for his sponsorship of artists such as Botticelli and Michelangelo.

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Portrait de Dante Aligheri - Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist. Author of Divina Comedia, masterpice of universal litterature.

Renaissance begins with this illustrious artist.

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Portrait of Amerigo Vespucci - an Italian-born merchant, explorer, and navigator from the Republic of Florence, from whose name the term "America" is derived.

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Niccolo Machiavelli's porttrait - was an Italian Renaissance diplomat, philosopher and writer, best known for The Prince (Il Principe), written in 1513 He has often been called the father of modern political philosophy and political science.

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Decameron - is a collection of novellas by the 14th-century Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–1375).

The book is structured as a frame story containing 100 tales told by a group of seven young women and three young men; they shelter in a secluded villa just outside Florence in order to escape the Black Death, which was afflicting the city.

Boccaccio probably conceived of The Decameron after the epidemic of 1348, and completed it by 1353.

The various tales of love in The Decameron range from the erotic to the tragic.

Tales of wit, practical jokes, and life lessons contribute to the mosaic.

In addition to its literary value and widespread influence (for example on Chaucer's Canterbury Tales), it provides a document of life at the time.

Written in the vernacular of the Florentine language, it is considered a masterpiece of classical early Italian prose.

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Some other masterpieces.

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Impressive museum indeed!

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And an old bas-relief.

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Some adorned colonades.

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An old map of Florence from its golden time!

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The unique Ponte Vecchio - what a fameous medieval bridge across Arno River!

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Before I leave FLORENCE, I catch a glmpse of Brunelleschi dome at Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, one of the best in the whole world.

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I stop to admire another two churches before I leave this marvelous town.

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It's time for me to ride on SS67 following the Arno river on my way to Florence.

I am crossing such a nice area full of rolling hills with little villages perched on top of them.

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I stop at a supermarket in Empoli and I buy a lot of food.

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In the evening I drink something at a pub at Navacchio, I talk to a lady and I befriend her cute dog.

Then I will sleep in the area in my sleeping bag.

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Day 5) Pisa - Marina di Pisa - San Piero a Grado

 

Now it's time for me to discover Pisa, another marvel of Tuscany featuring the famous Leaning Tower.

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I wander on the medieval streets.

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In the town center I enjoy discovering very narrow and ancient streets.

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I come across many small and vivid squares.

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I simply adore roaming about the town center adorned with its medieval buildings.

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Pisa has about 90 000 inhabitants and is crossed by Arno River.

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I encounter many sumptuous palaces.

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The historic center is fortified.

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The Republic of Pisa  was a de facto independent state centered on the Tuscan city of Pisa, which existed from the 11th to the 15th century.

It rose to become an economic powerhouse, a commercial center whose merchants dominated Mediterranean and Italian trade for a century. before being surpassed and superseded by the Republic of Genoa.

The republic’s participation in the Crusades secured valuable commercial positions for Pisan traders, thereafter the city grew in wealth and power.

Pisa was a historical rival to Genoa at sea and to Florence and Lucca on land.

The power of Pisa as a mighty maritime nation began to grow and reached its apex in the 11th century when it acquired traditional fame as one of the main historical Maritime Republics of Italy.

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Many palaces are adorned with fine staties and bas-reliefs.

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In the center I see very interesting cars but also plenty of bicyclists.

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The historic center is full of tavernas and interesting statues.

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It's time for me to discover one of the finest marvels of the whole world - The Piazza dei Miracoli.

The Piazza dei Miracoli; English: Square of Miracles), formally known as Piazza del Duomo (English: Cathedral Square), is a walled 8.87-hectare area located in Pisa, Tuscany, Italy, recognized as an important centre of European medieval art and one of the finest architectural complexes in the world.

Considered sacred by the Catholic Church, its owner, the square is dominated by four great religious edifices: the Pisa Cathedral, the Pisa Baptistry, the Campanile, and the Camposanto Monumentale (Monumental Cemetery).

Partly paved and partly grassed, the Piazza dei Miracoli is also the site of the Ospedale Nuovo di Santo Spirito (New Hospital of the Holy Spirit), which houses the Sinopias Museum (Italian: Museo delle Sinopie) and the Cathedral Museum (Italian: Museo dell'Opera del Duomo).

The name Piazza dei Miracoli was coined by the Italian writer and poet Gabriele d'Annunzio who, in his novel Forse che sì forse che no (1910), described the square as the "prato dei Miracoli", or "meadow of miracles".

The square is sometimes called the Campo dei Miracoli ("Field of Miracles").

In 1987, the whole square was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Plenty of tourists roaming around.

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The Baptistery, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, stands opposite the west end of the Duomo.

The round Romanesque building was begun in the mid 12th century: 1153 Mense August fundata fuit haec ("In the month of August 1153 was set up here...").

It was built in Romanesque style by an architect known as Diotisalvi ("God Save You"), who worked also in the church of the Holy Sepulchre in the city.

His name is mentioned on a pillar inside, as Diotosalvi magister.

The construction was not, however, finished until the 14th century, when the loggia, the top storey and the dome were added in Gothic style by Nicola Pisano and Giovanni Pisano. It is the largest baptistery in Italy, with a circumference measuring 107.25 m.

Taking into account the statue of St. John the Baptist (attributed to Turino di Sano) atop the dome, it is even a few centimetres taller than the Leaning Tower.

The portal, facing the façade of the cathedral, is flanked by two classical columns, while the inner jambs are executed in the Byzantine style.

The lintel is divided into two tiers, the lower one depicting several episodes in the life of St. John the Baptist, and the upper one showing Christ between the Madonna and St. John the Baptist, flanked by angels and the evangelists.

The immensity of the interior is overwhelming, but it is surprisingly plain and lacking in decoration.

It has notable acoustics also. The octagonal baptismal font at the centre dates from 1246 and was made by Guido Bigarelli da Como.

The bronze sculpture of St. John the Baptist at the centre of the font is a remarkable work by Italo Griselli.

The pulpit was sculpted between 1255-1260 by Nicola Pisano, father of Giovanni Pisano, the artist who produced the pulpit in the Duomo.

The scenes on the pulpit, and especially the classical form of the naked Hercules, show at best Nicola Pisano's abilities as the most important precursor of Italian renaissance sculpture by reinstating antique representations.

Therefore, surveys of the Italian Renaissance usually begin with the year 1260, the year that Nicola Pisano dated this pulpit.

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Some details of baptistery.

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The heart of the Piazza del Duomo is the Duomo, the medieval cathedral of the Archdiocese of Pisa, dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta (St. Mary of the Assumption).

The cathedral has two aisles on either side of the nave. The transept consists of three aisles.

The church is known also as the Primatial, the archbishop of Pisa being a Primate since 1092.

Its construction began in 1064 by the architect Buscheto. It set the model for the distinctive Pisan Romanesque style of architecture.

The mosaics of the interior, as well as the pointed arches, show a strong Byzantine influence.

The façade, of grey marble and white stone set with discs of coloured marble, was built by a master named Rainaldo, as indicated by an inscription above the middle door: Rainaldus prudens operator.

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The cathedral, the Duomo is placed between the baptistery and the leaning tower.

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The campanile (bell tower), commonly known as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, is located behind the cathedral.

The last of the three major buildings on the piazza to be built, construction of the bell tower began in 1173 and took place in three stages over the course of 177 years, with the bell-chamber only added in 1372.

Five years after construction began, when the building had reached the third floor level, the weak subsoil and poor foundation led to the building sinking on its south side.

The building was left for a century, which allowed the subsoil to stabilise itself and prevented the building from collapsing. In 1272, to adjust the lean of the building, when construction resumed, the upper floors were built with one side taller than the other.

The seventh and final floor was added in 1319. By the time the building was completed, the lean was approximately 1 degree, or 80 cm (2.5 feet) from vertical.

At its greatest, measured prior to 1990, the lean measured approximately 5.5 degrees. As at 2010, the lean was reduced to approximately 4 degrees.

The tower stands approximately 60 m high, and was built to accommodate a total of seven main bells, cast to the musical scale: L'Assunta, cast in 1654 by Giovanni Pietro Orlandi, weight 3,620 kg (7,981 lb) Il Crocifisso, cast in 1572 by Vincenzo Possenti, weight 2,462 kg (5,428 lb) San Ranieri, cast in 1719–21 by Giovanni Andrea Moreni, weight 1,448 kg (3,192 lb) La Terza, the first small bell, cast in 1473, weight 300 kg (661 lb) La Pasquereccia or La Giustizia, cast in 1262 by Lotteringo, weight 1,014 kg (2,235 lb) Il Vespruccio, the second small bell, cast in the 14th century and again in 1501 by Nicola di Jacopo, weight 1,000 kg (2,205 lb) Dal Pozzo, cast in 1606 and again in 2004, weight 652 kg (1,437 lb)[4] There are 296 steps leading to the top of the tower.

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This medieval masterpieces probably are the some of the finest in the entire world.

Eversince I was a child I have been dreaming that one day I will have the privilege to feast my eyes upon them.

When I was 32 years old my dream came true.

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After a few hours of gazing and lazing it was time for me to cycle to Marina di Pisa to have a nice dip in the Mediterranean Sea.

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It is time for me for some sunbathing and swimming.

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How I love this place, basking in the sun and taking a dip in the sea!

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Marina di Pisa, such a nice resort!

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Here I am relaxing, drinking some beers, taking photos of pretty girls.

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All of a sudden I run into a family of Romanians living and working in the area. Now they are relaxing.

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They appreciate me a lot, are amazed by my adventures and the girls are very kind and lovely.

They are from Moldavia.

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After a relaxing day together they invite me to their house. They live in San Piero a Grado, a village nearby.

 

Day 6 and 7) San Piero a Grado

 

I relax 2 days at their home and they treat me very well with good food and fine drinks.

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Day 8) San Piero a Grado - Pisa - Lucca - Bagni di Lucca

 

It is time to say good bye to my wonderful hosts! I will never forget you dear friends!

They also offer me a nice donation that will help me a lot.

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After Pisa I will follow SS12 road. Nice scenery!

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After San Giuliano Terme I will have to climb a hill, a few km of ascent.

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Soon I will reach Lucca, another gem of Tuscany.

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Lucca is a city and comune in Tuscany, Central Italy, on the Serchio, in a fertile plain near the Ligurian Sea.

It is the capital of the Province of Lucca. It is famous for its intact Renaissance-era city walls.

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Its historic center is fully walled.

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I enter the historic town through an interesting building endowed with a great gate.

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Here I can admire many old churches.

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Nice bas-reliefs

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Great statues.

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An old theater.

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San Martin Cathedral dating back to XI century is probably the best medieval gem this town can offer.

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I piously enter the cathedral and here I can take a glance at a stupendous icon and a wise piece of advice.

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Such a nice ceiling I can see, too.

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Then I roam about the busy streets.

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I discover a tiny square and a lofty column with a pieta on top.

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Soon I get to admire another ancient church.

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The medieval architecture is so rich and impressive.

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The old town is crossed by a small stream.

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This stream has plenty of big fish even if it's water is quite shallow.

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As soon as I leave behind the old walled town I start cycling on SS12 road heading for the North Appenine.

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I am following the Serchio River.

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At Ponte a Moriano I encounter some great statues.

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Here I enter the mountains still following Serchio River.

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The green scenery is more scenic.

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Soon I pass through a tiny tunnel.

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I have to cope with a health problem.

My back is all sore because a few days before I cycled without t-shirt.

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After Borgo a Mozzano I come across Ponte del Diavolo.

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This ancient bridge dates back to 12th century and I climb it on foot because it's too steep.

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From this bridge I can behold some nice views.

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