Because we saw David yesterday we got a later start this morning. Wake up call was at 7:15 and we left at 8:45.
Hotel Londra made up for the lackluster dinner with the best breakfast buffet we had all trip. For the first time we had bacon cooked crisp. Unusual items were sauerkraut and cooked mushrooms. This buffet also had champagne but I’m not up for mimosas that early.
Florence Gold and Leather
It was raining when we left the hotel and Gaetano drove us to the same spot he picked us up at yesterday by the river.
Brad walked us to the Gold Corner by Piazza di Santa Croce where we had a lesson on various gold products and gold jewelry.
Then we went to Peruzzi store where we had a leather making demonstration and learned what to look for when buying leather.
We bought a leather wastebasket, coasters and bookmarks as souvenirs.
Basilica Santa Croce
Steve and I walked back to the Basilica Santa Croce where we paid our admission fee and went inside to the beautiful church.
Even the tickets are a work of art! I think church was my favorite in Italy.
This is the church where Michelangelo and Galileo are both buried amongst other illustrious Italians (Machiavelli!).
It is amazingly uncrowded as the city was quite busy.
We spent about an hour going through the massive church before exiting to meet the group for gelato.
We were treated to two scoops of our choice of flavors of gelato by Insight Vacations (it’s one of the flourishes we got throughout the tour). It would have been better to have warmer weather but as our guide in Assisi said, “a day without gelato is a wasted day”.
I changed my flavors up today and had black cherry with strawberry. Steve had peach and amaretto.
Brad had given us directions to the Uffizi so we headed out that way and decided to have an early lunch before picking up our tickets. Others in
the group were meeting Brad at noon to take the bus to San Gimignamo (optional tour) while some where staying in the historic area like us.
Anyone who wanted a ride back to the hotel was to meet at the taxi stop in Piazza di Santa Croce at 2 pm where Brad would provide taxis for us.
We ate at Orcagna pizzeria right on the Piazza Della Signoria. We had only 45 minutes until we could pick up our Uffizi tickets. I ordered a pizza with prosciutto and Steve ordered a calzoni with artichokes, sausage, prosciutto and cheese.
We both loved our meal which we had with still water. After eating and a toilet stop there ,we headed to the Uffizi.
We went to door 3 at the Uffizi for our ticket pickup. There was a very short line there but then we had to get in line at door number 1 which was for people with reserved ticket times.
At 12:45 or so they let us in and we went through a metal detector. We then took the stairs up four flights (or at least it felt that way) before our tickets were collected. Along the way we were passing statues and busts.
Then the different galleries started. There is really only one way unless you want to bypass some and go directly down the outside hall.
|The Ognissanti Madonna by Giotto
|Madonna Rucellai by Duccio di Buoninsegna
|Adoration of the Magi by Gentile da Fabriano
|Birth of Venus by Boticelli
|Venus of Urbino by Titian
|Baptism of Christ by Da Vinci
|The Spring by Botticelli
|Holy Family by Michelangelo
|Sleeping Arianne statue
|Portrait of Gabrielle d’Estrées with her sister by Fontainebleau
|Laocoon by Baccio Bandinell
It was crowded but not as bad as St. Peter’s basilica or of course, the Colosseum. We saw the famous paintings as well as tons of other incredible art.
|Ponte Vecchio Bridge
We powered through the second half of the museum to make it to the meeting spot by 2 pm. Also, Steve was ready for a break (truthfully so was I). My only regret is not getting to spend some time in the gift shop.
Brad was there a few minutes early and put us in a cab with another couple back to the hotel. Steve bought me a diet coke (4 euros) at the hotel bar and got a tall glass of ice which was really refreshing with some of the Italian cookies from Burano.
After a nap, we both felt refreshed and ready to go to the optional Tuscan dinner tonight. Friday night traffic meant it took us twice as long to get there as the return trip back after dinner.
|Florence city gate
It was a scenic ride once we got out of the city. We passed an American cemetery from World War II. I couldn’t see headstones but it looked like a beautiful place. We will pass a Commonwealth cemetery tomorrow which has soldiers from Australia, United Kingdom, New Zealand and Canada buried there.
We arrived at the restaurant which was originally a private home.
Because of the weather, we can’t eat outside but instead went inside where we had a cocktail half hour or so. They had made a delicious wine punch that was quite icy. I’m sure it would be very refreshing on hot days.
You could also have other liquors or wine.
Passed appetizers included stuffed olives, bruchetta, and liver pate. I loved it all and normally hate liver.
We sat down for dinner where we had bottled water, bread, red and white wines waiting for us. We sat directly across from Dave and Mary Ann and next to them was the Steele family where we conversed with Bethany a lot.
|My choice tonight
First we were served antipasto.
Then we had spinach and cheese ravioli in a cream sauce with nuts. It was wonderful! This was followed by pasta in a marinara sauce. Then we had salad before the main course.
The main course was three meats (sausage, roasted chicken and roast pork au jus) with the best potatoes we’ve had yet.
To top it off they had coffee and chocolate lava cake.
Too soon we had to say goodbye. On the way home we sang a long to songs over the loudspeaker. Let me just say I will never hear “A Horse With No Name” without thinking about Italy.
The San Miniato al Monte basilica was lit up at night and was absolutely stunning.