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Italy 2004 Trip Report - Firenze
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Aug 24, 2004
Dear Family,
     I’m writing the fourth installment to my journal, though since we’ll be home in four days, I won’t mail this, but hand deliver it. We have spent the last three days in Florence (Firenze). We were very fortunate, weather-wise. It was about 95 degrees the day we arrived but cooled down a lot the next day, then was not too warm (but very nice) the last two days. I am writing this at the train station as we are waiting for our train to Venice.
     The historic part of Firenze is all in a rather small compact area. So we had no problem walking to all of the sights. Much was built in the 1200's and much of the art is from the 1200's and 1300's, Renaissance style. Many churches, palaces and squares. We toured so much that Mark said “no more museums.” I enjoy looking at old things, imagining life back then.
     [After arriving in Firenze on Friday, we checked into our B&B, the Old Florence Inn. Then we walked around the city center. Everything was closed but we saw the outside of S. Maria d. Fiore (the Duomo), S. Croce, the Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace) and the Piazza della Signoria. We had dinner at a small outdoor restaurant right on the Piazza della Signoria.]
    [On Saturday, we visited (actually went inside) the Duomo and Santa Croce. S. Croce is the burial site of the rich and famous of the Renaissance including Dante Alighieri , Niccolo Machiavelli, Gioacchino Rossini and Galileo Galilei . In the afternoon, we visited the Galleria degli Uffizi.]

The Duomo (Cathedral) S. Maria d. Fiore

The Cappella (Bell Tower) attached to the Duomo

Santa Croce (burial place of the rich and famous)

Burial crypt of Galileo Galilei in S.Croce Church

The Old Palace (Palazzo Vecchio) now the city hall building.

Fake David (the original was moved into the Accademia over 100 years ago - although it sat outside for 275 years!

The Uffizi is on the 2nd and 3rd floors of this "U" shaped building.

     We tried to find restaurants to get a taste of the local cuisine. In our tour guide book, we saw a dish called “ribollita” which was soup made with bread, tomatoes, cabbage, and onions. We found a restaurant that served it and it was delicious.
     We have found everything in Italy to be very expensive (more expensive than in the U.S.). The couple of Italians we spoke to that spoke very good English were able to tell us that the times have never been worse, economically. We were wondering how they could afford to buy these products. They said that when the Lira changed to the Euro, that their wages were cut in half to compensate for the change in value but the products did not do the same. They also indicated that their government is messed-up right now.
     [On Sunday, we went to the Accademia Museum, the location of the statue of David by Michelangelo. We walked to the Pitti Palace (which was just closing) and then sat on the Ponte Vecchio for a while watching the passing crowd and listening to street musicians. We had dinner, again outdoor, at the Piazza della Republica.]

Sally in front of the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge)

Hordes of tourists on the Ponte Vecchio

Street Vendors in Florence

     [The street vendors we saw in Rome and Florence (and a few in Venice) sold a few basic things:
     Even on one block, you would see 2-3 vendors selling the same things. They were unlicensed and we could tell they were always on the lookout for the police. Their "wares" were such that they could pick everything up and move if they saw a policeman coming down the street. The police did this regularly but did not seem to want to catch them. As soon as the police were gone, the street vendors would setup shop again in a few minutes.
     In addition to these vendors, there were licensed vendors who had their wares setup on large trailer like carts.]

Street Vendors in Florence

     Yesterday, Mark climbed to the top of the dome in the largest church I have ever seen (the Duomo). He got some great pictures of Florence from the top. While he was doing that, I went to yet one more museum to see the art from the 1800's and early 1900's along with a display of clothing worn from 500's on.

Inside the dome of the Duomo

Panorama looking south from the top of the Duomo.

Panorama looking west from the top of the Duomo.

     Yesterday afternoon, to take a break from churches and museums, we took a bus tour out to the Tuscany region (wine country). We were taken to an old fortress built in the 1200's that is now a winery. We did some wine tasting and had a few snacks. [Everything in Italy does center around food.]

Winery Tour

     We’re both getting very worn out, but looking forward to our last stay in Venice. We miss you all very much!

EuroStar train in the Florence Train Station
     [Mark bought train tickets for Venezia and we await the arrival of the train.]
     Love,   Sal & Mark

On to Part 5.

Back to Part 3.

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Mark and Sally

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