Here we are, over a year later, and we're only on day five...
And this one, like the others, is long. If you want to catch up, you can read about day 1, day 2,day 3, and day 4.
In a nut shell, we toured the hills and the city of Florence. We saw David and lots of other art. We strolled hand in hand and took in more gorgeousness and had a perfectly divine dinner. All said, a perfect day!
We began the morning with breakfast in our hotel dining room. It was ho-hum compared to the last breakfast spot. We sat with a couple about our age. She was from Russia and he from Norway, but they were working at the Norwegian Embassy in Australia. Complicated, huh? We had an interesting conversation about arming families with machine guns as a means of civil defense...I think he said they do that in Norway. T was pretty into it. As with everyone we met who discovered we were American, we had the "Obama" conversation. We were asked the usual list and consistently shared that we are quite conservative. Surprisingly everyone non-American we met did not hate G.W. Bush.
Following breakfast we made a rather unleisurely stroll to meet our tour group for a morning tour of Florence. Guess who was there? Our favorite couple!!! Mr. and Mrs. T! We boarded the bus together and were off.
We drove up through the hills above the city to the Piazzale Michelangelo and took in the spectacular views. Our guide, an Englishwoman, was quite entertaining. The view of the city was breathtaking. So breathtaking that our friends couldn't pull themselves away and nearly missed the bus.
We rode back into the city and began the walking tour. We saw tons of fabulous architecture and mansions and went through the history of the city beginning with the wool merchants through to the banking industry. We learned how the architecture followed the history of the city. The earlier palaces were fairly plain. The kids tried to out-do their parents and the homes became more and more elaborate. Each palace was marked with its family's crest, which also told you with what type business the family was involved.
We saw the Baptistery...
and the Duomo.
and Giotto's Campanile.
Each was amazing.
Following our "foot" tour of the city, we headed for the Gallery of the Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze and saw David. Photography was strictly prohibited. I tend to like to follow the rules, so we didn't shoot.
Seeing David ended the tour...but we stayed on and spent some time in each of the museum's rooms. We saw Michelangelo's Prisoners. These were sculptures he hadn't finished. They were like bodies trapped in stone...hence the name "Prisoners." I read a lengthy tutorial on egg based paints and we spent hours taking in painting after painting.
Finally, we met up with our friends in the gift shop and headed off for a bite to eat. I'm so sad we've waited so long to finish this. I don't even remember what we ate. T thinks we just had sandwiches. We enjoyed a taste of Chianti, followed by cappuccinos. While we were sipping our coffee, a man walked in and sat behind us. Long story short, he was running a racket. We wound up paying a few bucks for some carved turtles...ironically, the kids LOVE them.
When lunch was over we said our goodbyes and parted ways. They were so fun! We sent them a Christmas card last year...but never heard from them.
We spent the rest of the day hand in hand, wondering around the city. We made our way back to the Scuola del Cuoio (the leather school). I was pumped about seeing craftsmen in action. Alas, their benches were empty. No one was there save the tourists and a few employees of the school, eager to sell their wares. They thought a little more highly of their goods than I wanted to pay, so we left empty handed, but happy to have had the experience. We wandered around a little more and nearly got lost.
We stopped in a few churches and made our way back to La Coquina for another go at dinner. We had the same wonderful waiter, who continued to awe us with his ability to juggle multiple tables, each filled with people ordering in multiple languages. The food was...in one word...DELICIOUS!!! I had the cheese and pear wrapped pasta. (It looked like a plate of little pasta wrapped pouches, sprinkled with salt and pepper and drizzled with olive oil...oh, it was so good!) T had...well...we can't remember, but it was good. We got to see the wine cellar, which was AMAZING! Thousands of bottles of wine in a cellar chiseled out of/into rock...it was so neat...so mysterious...
After dinner we continued our hand in hand walk through the city. We made our way back to our hotel and crashed. It was a perfectly wonderful day!
And the above photo was taken just for you, Mom! While we didn't see any "dollar stores," we did spot an "85 cent store!"- hee hee. (I don't think that means the same thing there that it does to us here...)