Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fascinating Florence!

This was the name of our tour to Florence, and our guide, Guilia, was a hoot.  She was well educated, and had a great sense of humor.  It was very hot, hovering around 98 degrees, and of course humid.  On the bus to Florence, we saw beautiful Italian countryside.  Fields of grapes, olive trees, sunflowers, hilltop villages with towers.

We entered above Florence, a lookout, where we had not been before.
The four travelers.

The views of Florence were beautiful.
The Duomo.

The Ponte Vecchio.

Our first stop was the Academia, to see The David sculpture, Giulia's boyfriend, sculpted by her father in law, Michelangelo.  She was a card!  We then started a walking tour, first stop the Duomo, the Cathedral of Florence.  Gothic Italian style.  The dome, designed by Brunelleschi, is an engineering marvel.  The cathedral is being cleaned to remove years of pollution...and the cleaned parts are spectacular.

Because we had spent time in Florence before, we broke away from the tour.  The crowds were beginning to overwhelm us, AND we had an alternate agenda:  bistec Florentina, and the leather school.  On a previous trip, our local guide recommended a little restaurant where we ate bistec Florentina, which is a thickly cut t-bone, marinated in lemon and oil, seasoned, and grilled.  We couldn't find the restaurant, but we did find an equally good place, and had an enjoyable lunch.  Next stop, the Scuola del Cuoio, a leather school in the Santa Croce area.  On our previous trip to Florence, our guide told us about the school.  She said the leather quality and workmanship would be excellent, just no couture logos.  It's a fascinating place, you can watch the apprentices working on goods, and the prices are reasonable.  They make clothing, purses, desk items, wallets...if it can be made of leather, they make it.  We purchased a few items, and again I promised myself that after losing weight, I would be back to buy a jacket.

We were to meet up with our tour group at the Santa Croce Basilica, so in we went.  Guilia had procured ear phones for our group, so it was easy to find her.  We love Santa Croce - it is the burial ground for some very famous Italians:
Michelangelo - a few of my favorite facts about him:  he lived to be 86 years old, old for the time period.  It is speculated that this is because he was a sculpture, a more athletic profession than a painter (who would use questionable color media - lead?), he was gay, which is why his male anatomy is correct and the few females he sculpted are not so correct (The Pieta - the Virgin Mary's hips are huge, way out of proportion), he didn't like to paint - was coerced into painting the Sistine Chapel.  And the church wanted to bury him in Rome, but Florence fought to get their native son back, so he rests at Santa Croce.  Next to Rodin, I would say he is my favorite sculptor (although I really have a problem with David's right hand...but what do I know?).

Next up, Galileo, another Florentine.

 Danti...are these sculptures descriptive or what? 


 The Basilica is beautiful.

Bring me the head of John The Baptisit.


 After this exhausting day, it good to be back on the ship.  Tomorrow, Civitavecchia, for Rome.


  1. Your pictures are fabulous....I am envious right now...I hope you continue to enjoy your trip.

    1. Thank you! We're home now, but there are more vacation days to post about!