3. Florence

We arrived in Florence (Firenze) and went to the local Sheraton, probably the worst hotel we stayed at during our trip.  After a quick shower, we headed back onto the bus and headed to the old section of the city.  The group got in the long line to get into the Accademia, the home of Michaelangelo's David.  It was hot in the sunlight, but good conversation helped pass the time until we entered.

Another local guide joined us and gave us the tour of the museum.  The center of attention was the statue of David, but also interesting were the many unfinished sculptures of Michaelangelo.  His skill was amazing.  The guide explained how Michaelangelo would attend autopsies to learn how the human body was constructed.  This knowledge shows in the detail of the sculptures, right down to the corrotid artery in David's neck.

We left the crowded Accademia and headed for the Duomo, an immense and beautiful cathedral that dominates the city.  From there it was a short walk to the Piazza della Signoria.  There a replica of David stands outside the entrance to the government building, the Palazzo Vecchio, in the same place that the real statue stood for hundreds of years until it was moved inside to prevent further damage from acid rain, pollution, and groping humans.

In the evening, Maresa took the group to a restaurant in the countryside.  Owned by her personal friend, the food and wine were terrific.  We were toasted along with Dan and Sonja, the other newlyweds.  Chris drank too much wine and got a little bit too loud, but Linda was able to get him back to the hotel safely.

The next day, we went back to the old city and took a tour of the famous Leather School.  Located at the church of Santa Croce, the school was run, for hundreds of years, by monks, who taught their students how to make leather goods and emboss them with gold.  We saw an artist use gold leaf to decorate a wallet.  While Linda went shopping, Chris explored the church and saw the tombs of Michaelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, and Enrico Fermi, as well as uncounted numbers of 13th-century nobles.

Then it was back on the bus yet again.  They used to say all roads lead to Rome.  We were about to find out.
 

Next: Rome

Previous: Verona and Venice

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