Florence Sept 26,27, 28, 29, 30 Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

Sept 26 Monday - Left Venice at 9:27am for a two hour ride to Florence. An uneventful ride except for the scenery and long tunnels. We saw some hill top towns and castles.

Parts of Florence are off limits to traffic. It looked like a longer hike to our hotel then I wanted to make while pulling a suitcase so we took a taxi. For E10 we were placed at our wonderful "Hotel Pitti Palace" at the foot of the Ponte Vecchio. A very nice room with a view of the foot of the bridge right outside our window! This hotel is very nice and well located. Everything is within walking distance.

We had lunch in a little place near the hotel. We then hiked over to the Santo Spirito church for a view of the Michelangelo crucifix he had done when he was 17. We also scoped out the area. We then went up to the Pitti Palace and took a look at that. I had a rip-off gelato near here.

As we walked back past our hotel, across the Ponte Vecchio toward the Duomo we discovered a bust of Cellini. We'd recently read his autobiography. These are backside views of the bridge. The Ponte Vecchio has many gold shops on it. As we walked we discovered the Piazza Signoria. This is the famous square with the famous Town Hall or Palazzo della Signoria a Florentine landmark. Michelangelo's David stood here, now a replica. There are several famous statues. It's just amazing. Every time we passed through here we couldn't resist taking pictures. There seemed to be some construction or reconstruction going on.
   As we hiked we found Dante's house. We made it to the Duomo and saw the Campanile and Baptistry. We will visit them another day.
   Back to our room through the Piazza Signoria for a nap. We went up to the sixth floor for happy hour.  Later we went out to dinner at Borgo Antico on Santo Spirito Square. Very nice sitting outside.

On the way back to our hotel I had a gelato then to bed.

Sept 27 Tuesday - Breakfast at our hotel was OK. They have a nice sixth floor dining area with an outside patio. We did many things today.

First to the Uffizi. We had bought memberships in the Uffizi so they welcomed us in. We were taken to an office and told about our membership. Mainly it gets us into most museums in Florence free plus skip the line. We enjoyed the art, though it was pretty crowded with tour groups. There is a lot to see here. A very rich museum.

We went back to our room for a break then to lunch. Here's a view of the Ponte Vecchio.

We walked to the Duomo, of course past the
Piazza Signoria,  but it was too busy to get in so we went to the Academia and saw the David up close again. I have the illegal picture to show I was there. The guard was sitting about five feet away from me.

We then went to the Medici Chapel for more Michelangelo. Beware! you must go around to the back to get into the chapel you are looking for. We took a couple illegal pictures. The WC is a bit difficult to find.

We then started looking for the Bargello museum. We found it but it was closed today at this time. We had a beer at an nice little tourist spot. On our way back to the room we passed through Piazza Signoria again. Can't get enough of that. Rob took pictures for a Japanese couple. We had lunch at the little place near our hotel.

At our room Deb went up to check out the sixth floor happy hour starting at 4:30. I went to the lobby to use the wi-fi.

After some rest and a bit of happy hour we went to dinner at 4Leoni. A very popular place recommended by RS. Deb had a pasta stuffed with pear, I had the 4Leoni special - four tastes. Very nice. When we returned we had a glass of Lemonocello up on the sixth floor. Then to bed.

Sept 28 Wednesday - Breakfast then off to the Bargello. Donatello's David is here - the first nude male sculpted in a thousand years. It contains works by Michelangelo and many Medici treasures. A big time museum.

We had lunch at a fancy tourist place directly behind the Duomo. We sat in the Duomo shadow and watched construction going on as well as looking at the beautiful Duomo. We shared a pizza.

Pizza in Italy is a little strange. It's basically a crunchy thin crust with a little sauce and cheese. If you order mushrooms and olives the mushrooms are in one pile and the olives are someplace else in another pile. It makes it difficult to share all the ingredients.

Back to our hotel for a break.

We went over to Santa Croce Church. It was much more impressive then I had remembered. Certainly the most important church in Florence. Galileo, Michelangelo and Dante are buried here as well as Tesla and Marconi. There are famous frescos and paintings. Attached to it is a very impressive monastery and museum. A piece of St. Francis' tunic is in a frame. There is also a Brunelleschi chapel here. Quite impressive.

As we walked back we cut through City Hall. Surprisingly interesting. I guess the entry was to impress people entering. Then another picture taking session through Piazza Signoria on our way home.

Another happy hour then later out to dinner at
Borgo Antico. We had a bit of a wait. The manager gave us wine to pass the time. This time we ordered the "Frutti di Mere" plate. A gigantic pile of mostly mussels with calamari and langastinos. We couldn't finish it all. We also shared an asparagus and cheese risotto. Another great meal then back to the hotel for a happy hour and to bed.

Sept 29 Thursday - Breakfast. Today we are off to the Duomo museum. This is where Donatello's Wooden Mary Magdalene is on display. It is surprisingly modern considering it was done in 1455 or so. Also a Michelangelo Pieta or The Deposition of Christ done in the 1540's. A very impressive museum. We were really looking forward to seeing the Baptistery door panels by Ghiberti but they were not on display! Several art classes were drawing here.

Now on to the Duomo, the first major dome built since the pantheon in Rome fifteen hundred years previous. We bought a ticket to the "Terraces of the Cathedral and Dome" tour which gets you in past the rather daunting line. The interior of the Duomo was anticlimactic after seeing the exterior is so fancy. We had a guided tour up to the terrace level. Here are some interior shots. After that we were allowed to climb the stairs to the top of the dome. Quite a climb. The views were worth every step. As you climbed you could get a glimpse of the dome within a dome that Brunelleschi built.

We stopped by the "Gem Museum". Mostly an excellent collection of inlaid stone items, mostly tables. They also had the tools they used back in the fourteen and fifteenth centuries to make these objects.

As we then hiked back to out hotel for lunch and a break we passed through the market at Piazza della Repubblica. We then went over to the Pitti Palace and took the tour of the Boboli Gardens. Sort of boring with a lot of hot uphill walking. We may have missed something. These pictures look surprisingly good. On the way back down we ran across an interesting grotto. The grotto looked like it would be fun on  a cool night with a fire. There are some interesting modern sculptures around the Palace grounds.

Back to our room for a break. Then back to 4Leoni for dinner This time we sat inside. We were unfashionably early, as usual. We were sitting all alone for quite a while. A Korean couple sat down beside us and he ordered the t-bone steak. It was a kilo - 2.2 pounds and nearly raw. He ate the whole thing. Deb had the pear pasta, I had a pork shank. Quite good.

Back to our hotel and a wine before bed. We met Terry and Roger from South England. She was quite the historian. Interesting conversation.

Sept 30 Friday - Breakfast. Terry and Roger had taken the tour of the passage between the Uffizi and the Pitti Palace that goes over the Ponte Vecchio so we decided to give it a try. We zipped over to the Uffizi and asked. Nope not this time. So we looked at few pieces of art again, including the Botticelli's before we left for Rome.

We used another taxi to get to the station only this time it was more expensive because we didn't hail it we phoned for it. We had the hotel desk call.

So on the train at 11:10 for our one and a half hour ride to Rome.

Comments -

- Here are some pictures of David in the Piazza
- We missed some important stuff. We need to go back and stay longer. We need to rent a car and go see some nearby things.