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Northern Italy Road Trip Part II

Author: Jim and Donna C. (More Trip Reviews by Jim and Donna C.)
Date of Trip: October 2010

Sunday, October 17, 2010 -- cold, partly cloudy

florence bridgeWe have shutters on our hotel room window. Since we closed them last night, our room stayed nice and dark and quiet. We slept till around 0700. We got up slowly and made our way to the breakfast buffet. We can't figure out if breakfast is included with the room or not. At worst, we think it's no more than six Euros each.

We ended up talking with a couple from Florida. After breakfast we made our way up to the outdoor bar. This is a 360 degree view of the area. Got to remember to bring the camera up for some pictures, the view is fantastic.

Up the street is one of the stops for the Hop-on Hop-off bus. We're making our way there. On the way, some local artists are setting up their wares along the sidewalk. We were looking at a painting of a basilica and sunflowers…what both Jim and I think of when we think of Tuscany. We haven't seen any sunflowers yet. Probably the wrong time of year? We decided to think about it.

We got on the bus and paid for our tickets. We went up top and found a couple seats that were dry. It's cold this morning, but dry. We rode the entire route (an hour and a half) and made marks on the map where we wanted to get off. We rode around again until we got to a stop near the Cathedral of Santa Maria Di Fiore. This cathedral is beautiful! It is made from lots of different colors of marble primarily green and white.

Walking up to the cathedral, we stopped to get a waffle. We both had a waffle with Nutela. I ended up wearing most of mine. I had Nutela on my camera, camera straps, coat, you name it, I had Nutela on it. In front of the cathedral a group of young people were singing. We stopped to listen for a while, they were a lot of fun. We walked around the cathedral taking lots of pictures.

We continued down the street to Basilica San Lorenzo. It wasn't nearly as beautiful, but picturesque still the same. Along the streets were stalls of leather goods. This is called the Leather Market.

Jim found a belt; he's shrinking out of the one he brought. Problem with pants falling down or something like that. We got talking with the vendor. He was telling us how bad the pick pockets are in Florence. We knew it was bad, but when the locals are warning you…We picked up some Pinocchio dolls for Jimmy and Anthony for Christmas. Jim found a couple ties he liked as well.

We walked down to the next bus stop and caught the bus. We rode it to another stop called Piazzale Michelangelo. This is an outlook area that looks out over Florence. Fantastic views of the city. It is a very sprawled out city.

We ended up talking with a couple from Chicago for some time. I bought a nice light scarf as the sun makes it a bit warm to wear my wool one. We had lunch. We shared a calzone. Caught the next bus. We wanted to go to the Academia to see Michelangelo's David, but you're supposed to make reservation, which we didn't. Tomorrow it's closed.

Jim wanted to stop back by the hotel to see if the guy with the painting we like was still there…he was and it was. He was so excited to sell us the painting, he gave me an additional small painting in appreciation. He had remembered us from the morning.

He had to take it out of a frame and off the stretcher frames so it could be rolled up. He was prying the staples and Jim was pulling them out. They got it. Jim got a big handshake and I got a kiss good bye. I think we made him happy. We took our stuff back to our room. We have now bought three paintings this trip.

We weren't ready to stop for the night. We went back out and walked down to river. We crossed a bridge that is full of shops with gold. All these shops gives a very unique look to the bridge. We walked along the river to the next bridge so that we could get some pictures of the bridge we were just on.

We started walking back towards the hotel. We stopped at a little café for dinner. I had a vegetable, pasta soup and Jim had fettuccini with mushroom sauce, chicken and spinach. We stopped at a little market to pick up some cookies and went back to the room. We see on the news that the Dolomites got snow, pretty good snow too. We missed that by two days.

Monday October 18, 2010 -- 19th Wedding anniversary -- Another Donna day -- sunny and cool

florence ponte vecchioToday is Fresco painting day. We set this up from home and it was the last thing to be confirmed. We meet the docent at 1500 so until then we plan to do a little touring and laundry if we can get to it. Stopped at the front desk to ask about the heat in the room as I wasn't able to figure out how to turn it on. We were told the heat isn't turned on until November 1. They offered a space heater but we decided to tough it out.

Had breakfast down stairs in the pastry and lunch shop. I had bacon and eggs for a change. Bacon was very salty and eggs overcooked but it was a bit like home anyway.

We decided to catch the hop on hop off bus up to the Duomo and check out the museum behind the cathedral. Needless to say it was fantastic. We were able to see a Michelangelo Pieta, another one of the incomplete versions. This one had a flaw in the marble and cracked when he was working on it. Still very beautiful.

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