The water taxi took us back to our bus and we journeyed on to Florence in the region of Tuscany. After arriving at our hotel mid-afternoon, Donald took us on a Renaissance tour of the city’s historic center. We saw and learned about Brunelleschi’s magnificent cathedral dome, Ghiberti’s Baptistry Doors, toured the Santa Croce Church and finished our walk at The Accademia Gallery to view some of Michelangelo’s greatest works including his statue of David and many other magnificent sculptures and works of art. We dined together at a small family-owned restaurant called Giglio Rossi. One of the owners waited on us together with an excellent helper named Danielle. After being served both red and white wine, our dinner began with homemade tomato based bread soup and tagliatelle pasta with a mushroom sauce. While the others enjoyed table-side flambéed steak, we were served sautéed chicken topped with a creamy, tomato, porcini mushroom sauce. For dessert, they made a special peach and strawberry tiramisu just for our group along with limoncello liqueur in frosted glasses. We all enjoyed our evening stroll back to the hotel.
Day 8 – Day two in Florence
Right after breakfast we met our local guide Cynthia, the only American guide on our the trip. She came to Florence many years ago as an art history student, got married and never left. She led us through the Uffizi Museum, one of the great museums of the world. It is home to the premier collection of Italian Renaissance art and one of the few that owns works by Leonardo da Vinci. Also featured are works by Botticelli, Michelangelo and many others. For the rest of the afternoon, we were free to stroll and shop on the Ponte Vecchio Bridge and then we toured the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens. Once owned by the Medici family, the rooms were filled with priceless art and antiques. The Medici’s first attained wealth and political power in the 13th century through their success in commerce and banking and influenced the growth of Italian Renaissance through their patronage of the arts. We had a light dinner at a local family owned restaurant near our hotel and enjoyed a delicious bottle of rosé from Verona… one of the owner’s favorites.