Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Day 4: Florence

Finally, I'm getting back to the review of our Italy trip. On Day 4, we took the bus from Venice to Florence. I was amazed by how completely beautiful the Italian countryside is. On all of our travels from city to city, we saw some spectacular scenery. It's a pretty long trek from Venice to Florence so we didn't arrive until the afternoon. We had just enough time to check into our hotel in the city center before we had to meet our local tour guide. Our guided tour of the city included viewing sculptures in the Piazza della Signoria, the Ponte Vecchio, Brunelleschi's Dome (the Duomo) and Ghiberti's bronze Baptistry doors.

Florence is known for its museums that feature spectacular art of the Renaissance. One of the most famous works is Michealangelo's David which is housed in the Galleria dell'Accademia; however, there a couple of copies in the city. This copy is in the Piazza della Signoria -- the original stood in this piazza until 1873. Another copy is in the Piazzale Michelangelo -- one of the great Florentine viewpoints with a magnificent panorama of the city.

After the Piazza della Signoria, we walked along the Arno River to the Ponte Vecchio -- the old bridge (seen behind Ella & Brett in the above photo). At this point, the sunny skies had turned to gray and it started to sprinkle. Fortunately, we had an umbrella in the backpack...but if we hadn't we could have purchased one from the dozens of men who suddenly appeared hawking them for 5 euro. We got some relief from the rain when we entered the cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore. It's orange-tiled dome is one of Florence's most famous symbols.

After the guided tour, we went to a local leather workshop where we saw a demonstration of how they make the famous Florentine box -- a box fashioned completely from leather. Brett even bought a nice new leather belt there, and I got a nice new shawl from a stand just outside the workshop -- I needed something to keep me warm and it made a nice souvenir.

Then it was off to dinner at a local restaurant -- we had veal yet again, but this time paired with some fantastic potatoes. Ella got bored during dinner and whipped out the baby doll from her backpack. One of the waiters was charmed by her...and later asked to take a picture of her with his cellphone. It was pretty cute. After dinner, it was off back to the hotel and some much needed rest.

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