After smooth travel on a clean and comfortable high speed train, we arrive in Florence. Leaving the train station we walk a couple of blocks to the Bellevue House, climbed the 93 steps to the 3rd floor, 6-room hotel and are greeted by Luciano, who was "expecting us." Luciano graciously showed us to our room and gave us tips on how to avoid the tourist traps and find the "most authentic" Italian food. He directed us to the San Miniato church where we were able to hear the monks chanting in Latin at the evening vesper service. Luciano neglected to mention the steep climb up to the church. However it was worth it for this beautiful view.
Our first evening in Florence, before the rain, we took a lovely walk along the Arno river. There were an amount of tourists around but not overwhelmingly so. We stopped for a light, but wonderful dinner at Signorvino Wine Shop and were delighted to find a wonderful barbera wine.
The following evening we took Luciano's advise and ate dinner at an "authentic Italian restaurant," a favorite of the locals according to Luciano and the price was very good. It was kind of like an Italian version of our hometown Gold Rush. Luciano had mentioned the owner was a friend of his which may explain the recommendation. After dinner we strolled back over to Signorvino and made reservations for the next evening.
We have been fortunate to have had beautiful weather since our arrival, so we won't complain about the rain. We don our rain jackets, grab an umbrella from the hotel and explore in the rain. The showers came mostly while we were in the museums or while we slept and did not put a damper on our sight seeing.
We found the San Lorenzo Market,
which reminded us of the Eastern Market in Washington D.C., but much larger. The huge indoor market housed many stalls of vegetables, wine, fish, meat, pasta, just about anything one could want to fix a special meal. Around the outside of the building are stalls of venders selling to tourists.
Connected to the Palazzo Vecchio, the Medici palace, is one of the most valuable treasures in Florence, the Uffizi. It houses the paintings and sculptures of artists like Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Botticelli.
We stop in at the Accademia to see Michelangelo's David and marvel at the definition that cannot be seen in photographs. Our knowledgeable tour guide gave an in depth picture of Michelangelo's life and temperament (not exactly flattering.)
Circling the Duomo (or cathedral) our guide explains the the creation of the elaborate and beautiful facade.
We enter the cathedral and discover the interior does not match the beauty of the exterior.
The interior of the small Orsanmichele church is much more impressive. Formerly an open air market for selling grain in the ninth century, it was later enclosed to form a church.
There are so many more museums and churches in Florence for which we did not have the time and stamina to explore. Without the knowledge shared by our tour guides, we would not have the picture of the renaissance period in Florence with which we leave. Seeing the long lines waiting to get into the Accademia and the Uffizi, we were glad we made advance reservations with a tour company which gave us more hours to tour and to rest. We found the early tours (8:00 a.m.) started before the city was saturated with tourists. We took a rest in the afternoons and strolled after dinner in the evening. According to Captain's Health app on his phone, we averaged 8.1 miles walking a day and climbed a total of 55 flights of stairs during our 2 1/2 days in Florence. We definitely needed a rest break!
Today we board the train for the 2-hr. ride to Venice. With luck we will have Internet service as good as we have had at the Bellevue House here in Florence. If not, well we will do our best to post snippets.
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