Another nice day (weather) … 1/2 hour walk to visit Galleria dell’Academia to see Michelangelo’s David in the “flesh” …17 feet high, gleaming white, with a halo-like dome over his head … a must-see when one comes to Florence … again, no photography allowed … you’ll have to come see for yourself.
Next, the first visit to a street market … kept our valuables close … lot’s of leather goods & scarfs … prices do not compare to China … crowded with tourists!
Lunch … met two interesting gals … widows we think … sisters (Pat & Janet) … Pat admitted to be 78 … traveling together, driving a car through Italy, France & Switzerland !!! … (gave Mel a shot of courage to start the drive to Como on Friday). they were a couple interesting gals to share ‘adventure travel tales.’
Then Karen says “let’s go down on the Plaza and people-watch’ … found a spot to sit (crowded) … soon we were chatting with a couple from eastern Oregon ‘farm country’ (Paul & Marge) … they just returned from a visit with their daughter in Milan, Italy … stopped by Florence to take in the culture.
Also chatted with an American couple from New Jersey visiting Florence while on a land tour of Italy (Globus Tour Company).
The people-watch continued and soon we were in a discussion with a cute petite gal (Molly) sitting alone next to us … she recently graduated from Washington University … degree in Environmental Organic Farming … she came to Italy alone for a few months to do volunteer work with the World Organic Farming organization … learn more about organic farming … just finished a week picking grapes … wasn’t sure what’s next or where she would be staying. We asked how her parents felt about this adventure … “they hate it … Mom calls me everyday asking if I’m OK & where next.” She seemed a bit lonely but eager to get to the next chapter in her adventure. Mel felt she wanted to chat with a “father-figure” … a warm conversation then said our goodbyes and she quickly faded into the crowd of tourists.
Evening and time for a guided wine tasting tour. Met our guide, Suzy … turns out we were the only customers so we had a private tour. Met Suzy on the Bridge and walked to the West Bank area … rarely visited by tourists … many academics and international graduate students live here … kind of a “Starbucks” feeling without the glitz … Suzy was born and raised right here … took her education in France, Germany & England … dearly loves Florence and one believes she will never live anywhere else. Enjoyed good wine, warm conversation … made the evening fly by!
Getting There: Daytona to Atlanta to Paris To Florience to the Piazza della Signoria in only 19 hours, completely on schedule. Greeted by a sunny day with a high of 78.
Lodging – Relais Uffizi, right on the main square. In Renaissance times, where citizens pioneered the radical notion of self-rule! Getting to our room was a challenge: 4 bags, 50 lbs. each plus backpacks and no direct elevator to our floor. Traverse two flights of stairs, 17 steps each! Mel not happy, wants a USA chain hotel.
Off immediately to tour, and soon became aware of the World Bicyclists Championship is underway with Florence being a major point in the races (each day for a week)
The event has many tourists in town. So, we decided to stay close and visit some of the interest points on our square (plaza)
First the Palazzo Vecchio, a fortified palace once the home of Florence’s ruling Medici family, then served as Town Hall and where David (statue) stood until 1873. Today is the office of the City Mayor.
Next, walked to the Ponte Vecchio Bridge, formerly where butcher shops stood end-to-end (scraps tossed into the River Arno) then along came the Medicis and replaced the butchers with jewelry shops. This is the only bridge in Florence to survive destruction in WWII.
Savored our first Italian meal-a pizza for lunch on the main square. With our batteries recharged and off to tour the Uffizi (oo-Feed-zee) Museum, said to have the world’s greatest collection of Italian paintings. Sorry, none of the exhibits allow photography.
Restaurants open for dinner at 7 PM, we walked around shopping for a nice place, found a sidewalk “Spaghettiria” MMmmmm … then soon after seating met a cool Chinese couple at the next table (close) … on their honeymoon … she was a China-Air flight attendant (spoke good English) … don’t know much about him (no speak English, but he did understand) … they are from a rural area ~1 1/2 hours from Hong Kong … what a delight to chat with them … we all laughed a lot.
The wine & carbs plus travel got to us and we turned-in following dinner.