Finally, a day of productive siteseeing. While still coughing a bit, I managed to pick my bleary self out of bed and feel good today. Ha, take that fever! Shake a leg, snot!
We started our day late as usual and finally got a free (read: fixed into the price of room) breakfast at the hotel. The rolls were decent, but the important things were excellent coffee and a nice, talkative couple from North Carolina on their 25th wedding anniversary trip. They talked us all over the map, but gave us some postive advice for art museums in town. Today was their last day in Florence because they were being picked up to go to a cooking school where they live with the chef and go on local food field trips before cooking dinner. Sounded pricey, but good.
We left our luggage at hotel 1 because checkin was not for several more hours at hotel 2, and headed for Il Duomo which is the big cathedral with a fancy dome in town. We didn't climb the stairs to the top. Who wants to pay to climb over 200 stairs? The stained glass was pretty spectacular though. The sun was hitting it right when we got there.
From Il Duomo, we went in search of Vivoli's. Now Jane has developed an addiction to Gelato which causes this one concern considering the prices in Los Gatos, but this Vivoli's place is touted by Steve McFarland's MapEasy map as the "best ice cream in the world" (a real publication, not Steve's crude rendering of Florence). When you've had the best, it's really hard to say it's the best. I'd say it is stellar, breathtaking, refreshingly brilliant and brilliantly refreshing, but "best in the world" is pretty high. When I was in Israel, one of the Muslim men who worked in our hotel took me and two others to Ramallah (which was a bustling city of 200,000+ at the time, a week or so later, Israel started sending missiles into various buildings there). There we ate an ice cream that was exceptional and unique. It was so rich that it would stretch like taffy...but it was ice cream. If that place no longer stands, than I'd tell you that this Vivoli's coffee ice cream is the best ice cream you could currently purchase within NATO.
Enough about that. It happened that I was interested in leather goods, and as Florence is known as "the leather city," we searched out the leather craft school, hoping for a bargain. We stumbled upon the largest Franciscan church in the world, Santa Croce, and went inside to get out of the sun. Santa Croce, as it happens, has a lot of famous dead people buried within it, and even though the place is dedicated to the ministry of St. Francis and his order, dead people monuments abound. What sort of famous people you ask? Well, how about Machiavelli? Maybe, Dante? Michelangelo, good enough? My favorite? Galileo. The guy gets labeled a heretic and he's buried in a church. Those were such crazy times!
Following the famous dead fest, I bought a wallet from the leather school. I'm currently using a Mark "Burnsie" Burnham hand me down that Charlotte gave me because she was sick of seeing my old wallet and she just took her dad's old one. This new one is nice. It's brown.
Lunch was another of Stevie Mac's suggestions. A little pricier than necessary, but definitely good. Note to the reader: when you order a stew, expect just to get meat. I had a plate full of meat for lunch. Jane had a delightful homemade tortellini in a killer cheese sauce.
It was time to check into hotel 2, so we hiked back to take our luggage over. We then headed back in the same direction that we'd been all day to the Pitti Palace, now a renaissance art museum. The place was built by a rival of the Medici family (who were like the Rockefellers of the renaissance), but then the Medici's bought it a century later. They ran Florence from there and housed their massive art collection inside. In the 18th century, the last Medici bequeathed the collection to the city of Florence and stipulated that the art could never leave town. And that's where the tour ends because Steve's legs and back ached so much in this place that we was not able to pay attention beyond the first four rooms. Our friends from this morning had given us a guidebook to this museum and we read about the paintings it highlighted. Rapheal was highly represented in this musuem, and in many cases, you could see why he was so much better than everyone else.
But as I said, my back was killing me and my legs began to lose their feeling. Fortunately, just at the point where I was going to say to Jane, "You can read about these paintings later, baby, let's go", the tour ended. Woo.
But the walk back to the new hotel was not really short, so we stopped at Vivoli's again. It was conveniently located several blocks out of the way.
The rest of the day has passed lazily in air-conditioned-ness. And it's 9 o'clock and I want dinner!
Hope your weekend rocks!
Oh, a post script to Joey Freda. Yes, Joey, we are staying in too much contact with home for being on our honeymoon, but guess what? Internet cafe's are air-conditioned. And Jane can't leave you people alone.
I'm running out of time...buh-bye.