Today included a whirlwind tour of Florence. On the bus ride to Florence, David gave us a quick history of Italy's political and economic systems.
After our short trip on the bus, we met our fantastic guide, Alex.
She met us at Piazza di San Giovani where we learned the history of St. John's Baptistry and toured the Duomo.
St. John's Baptistry is famous for its gold-plated doors, which feature the gates of paradise. Each Italian city features a Duomo, known as the religous center of that city.
Next she led us through the cobble stone streets of Florence to Piazza della Signoria where saw a repicla of the David statue as well as many other important works of early Roman sculputre.
Then we were on to Piazza Santa Croce for a tour of the cathedral. Alex told fantastic stories about the many important historcal individuals entombed in Santa Croce -- including Michaelangelo, Gallaleo, Machiavelli, and others. The cathedral also featured the statue that served as the inspiration for the Statue of Liberty.
We also visited a leather factory where we learned how Florentine Jewely Boxes are made and how to tell the difference between real and fake leather. Oh, and real leather has no smell ... the smell of real leather comes from the method in which it is treated.
After a delicious lunch at a pizzaria, we walked over to the famous bridge Ponte Vecchio.
Then we toured the Uffizi Museum, which houses many works of Italian Renaissance and later works of art, including pieces by Michaelangelo, DaVinci, and Botticelli.
We topped off our city trip with gellato in the marketplace.
As we scoured the city for affordable gellato, we witnessed a rousing rally of the Communist Party. Italy is right in the midst of its election season -- with election day in mid-April. The Communist Party served as the faction in power for many decades and held nearly 40% of the vote. As the party fell out of power and the democratic process truly took over, the party fell to only 3% representation.
Upon our return to Montecatini Terme, we ate more pasta. Oh, and Mandie, check out the gatti in the pet shop by the hotel :o)