Florence mostly, arriving late in Roma

Trip Start May 25, 2008
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21
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Trip End Jul 04, 2008


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Saturday, June 21, 2008

A short walk from Hotel Des Bains saw us meet a different bus which took us to the docks for our water taxi ride back past the main island, along the main canal, & around to Tronchetto Port where we met our coach driver (who had taken the coach extra earlier that morning on a special ferry so as to be ready for us).
Our goal this morning was Florence, again steeped in much artistic history. Once there, our local walking tour guide for the day, Anna-Marie, led us to the "Galleria dell'Accademia" which I recall being quite unassuming from outside on the street, to see for ourselves some of the works of the great Michelangelo! We spent plenty of time at 'the David' which, at 4.5m tall, was far larger than I ever thought the piece was!
Despite the fact that there were abundant staff present, constantly reminding tourists "no photo, no photo", I couldn't count the number of cameras in operation amongst the crowd that constantly surrounded David, including some of our group (they figured if others were getting away with it, and suffering no consequences, then they may as well also grab a shot of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity).
Once outside again, Anna-Marie escorted us through the streets past some squares & exquisite old buildings I never knew existed, but which, on investigation back in Oz, Florence is renowned for......the 14th century campanile (bell tower), the Cathedral of Santa Maria Del Fiore (the Duomo, begun in 1296), the octagonal Baptistery of San Giovanni (11-15th century) featuring the huge 'gates of paradise' in gilded bronze (by Ghiberti on 1403), Palazzo Vecchio (now a museum which houses the Mayoral office!) which sits in the Piazza Della Signoria (Florence's most important square, where a copy of David has sat since 1910), Loggia De Lanzi (late 14th century), the 1294 Basilica Santa Croce ("Holy Cross", burial place of Michelangelo, Donatello, Rossini, Marconi, Machiavelli)....wow did I learn fast! Once again, some of the architecture was out of this world.
We enjoyed Gelato (one per meal, per day is the local tradition so, of course, not wishing to offend...) at the oldest Gelato shop in Florence (that's all they sell...Gelato in so many varieties, choosing is not an easy task).
On reflection, Florence was another place we would really have liked to spend a full day at a slower pace....it was a very warm 33 Celcius on the streets, so the air-conditioning of the coach was not unwelcome by the time we said our goodbyes to Florence, and made our way to Roma!
We arrived at our hotel in the heart of the city around 7pm, checked in & were free to explore nearby streets for dinner (pizza & pasta naturally...when in Rome...)
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