Sunday, November 09, 2014

Florence, Italy

September 9, 2014 – Tuesday – Venice to Florence

We arrive in Florence early this afternoon. The bus stops in a local square, we unload ourselves and our bags, and walk a few blocks to the hotel. After getting settled, we go on a walking tour of the centre of Florence. We have an Italian guide with us, but Jennifer leads the tour. Apparently, the Italian guide is with us so the Rick Steves tour group doesn’t get hassled for conducting “unauthorized” tours of the city – Italian bureaucracy in action! We line up for the Gallery of the Academy, and after 10 minutes or so get inside to see Michelangelo's statue of David.

I saw the copy of the David statue in the Plazza della Signoria when I was last in Florence in 2006, but there is no comparison with seeing the original inside the museum on this trip. David is beautifully lit with both outside light coming through a transparent dome, and also flood lights. Jennifer points out how his expression changes depending on where you gaze upon him. His naked body is exquisite, although his right hand is too large. Jennifer explains that the original plan was to mount David high on the front of the Duomo, which might explain why his hand was bigger than normal…otherwise from the perspective of people on the ground, the hand would not be easily visible.

We go for a group dinner to nearby Trattoria Nella this evening. Apparently this restaurant was dropped from the Rick Steves guides, but the owner is glad to have us nonetheless. Jennifer treats us to gelato afterwards, so I am really full by the time we return to our hotel.

September 10, 2014 – Wednesday – Florence

I am awoken at 6:30AM by thunder and lightning crashing and booming over the city. The rain comes down hard, however it is all over by 7AM. An exciting start to the day! Several of us go to the Duomo early this morning and climb up to the top of the dome. It is very close quarters, since the stairs to the top are between the inner dome and the outer dome. We are rewarded with superb views of Florence from the top.

I go to Trattoria Antellesi for lunch, the restaurant next door to the hotel. I have a beer and a wonderful soup called pasta a fagioli, which is a vegetable soup made with pasta, vegetables and bread in a rich and creamy broth.

We go to the Uffizi Gallery this afternoon with a local guide who specializes in the Uffizi. There is a crush of people and groups, so we have to wait about three quarters of an hour to get in. Photos are now allowed inside, but when I checked the Uffizi website earlier, there was no indication of this recent change in policy. So I am stuck using my cellphone camera inside, which is not a disaster, but I would have much preferred to use my dSLR to take higher quality photos.

Quite a few of us go to Giglio Rosso Ristorante for dinner on our own this evening…a recommendation by the hotel front desk with a modest discount coupon. Dinner is good, and they bring around a dessert cart with some really yummy choices!

September 11, 2014 – Thursday – Florence to Rome

I am awoken again this morning at 6AM by thunder and lightning however the rain isn’t coming down hard like yesterday, and it lets up by the time we walk to meet the bus.

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