We said goodbye to Rome this morning and caught a train to Firenze (Florence). It's only a one and a half hour trip on the express but at 150 miles an hour I only looked out the window from time to time because I was afraid I'd start feeling sick. Beautiful country.
After dropping our bags at the hotel, we walked across the Ponte Vecchio into Oltrarno for lunch. Loved our waiter who tried to help us with our accents!! "Bruschetta! Altro!"
Our guide, Joan, met us back at the hotel. She had lived on the Upper West Side in New York for many years, her parents now lived in Palmyra and she has an International Finance degree from University of Chicago (class of '81). So we started out with many things in common.
She also has a MFA in Art History and after quitting banking, she moved to Florence and went back to school to get another art degree and has now lived here 30 years doing painting restoration work, teaching art classes and conducting tours, of course. Her son is 19 and studying Engineering. She was a very interesting woman and so fun to be with for the afternoon!
We started at the Catheral baptistery doors and then the statues of the cathedral architects' statues. At that point Nick noticed people at the top of the Duomo. He Really wanted to climb to the top. It wasn't in the plan for right then so we put him off a bit.
Next we walked to the Accademia. We loved Joan's explanations of the four unfinished Michaelangelo statues which gave a greater insight to the process of sculpting -- and specifically his process. Fascinating to be with someone with so much knowledge and insight. We could ask her any question about art or history and she seemed to know the answer! If only I could remember all that we learned after we get home!!
The David was bigger than I imagined and beautiful.
On our way home from the Accademia, we decided to hike up the Duomo. I told Joan she certainly didn't have to come with us and could part from us there. She said she didn't like heights or confined spaces, butnshe hadn't done it since 1984 and she would like to come with us and would then point out significant places from the top. Of course we were thrilled.
It's 453 steps. At one point you are back inside the cathedral where the frescoed ceiling begins. It's amazing to see up close!
The view from the top was incredible and we're so glad we didn't miss it!! We were nervous and jumpy as the kids leaned against the railing. Of course they couldn't understand why. They have a great amount of faith in the integrity of the railing. And of course Dan and I had none.
We said our goodbyes to Joan and came back to check into our rooms and have a rest before dinner.
We had a wonderful dinner at Il Giosto and then a lovely walk back home. In the Piazza Vecchio a classic car show was on display as well as a symphony playing on the square. We decided to have gelato here so we could listen a while. (Let me rephrase as "have gelato here so the kids would be willing to hang out for a while and we could listen!)
When we got back to our hotel, I wanted to keep going and walk over Ponte Vecchio and see the Arno River. Kids were done. So Dan and I ditched the kids and went ourselves. At the bridge a couple of guys were playing guitars and lots of people were enjoying the music and hanging out. And then they started playing mine and Dan's song (and apparently the couple's next to us because they went out and danced) -- Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here. From the mission mix tape Dan made me. 24 years ago.
A perfect day.