What a great day we all had today in Italy! Today was our free day in Florence. We ALL pretty much did our own thing and everyone had a great day and a lot to report back.
Like usual, I was up at 5am. Downloaded my pictures and did my blogging! With just 4 hours sleep in nearly 48 hours I guess my mind just wanted to go - I knew I was in Florence and had just one day. I was going to make the most of it!
I finished writing and with my camera empty, I headed out to the streets of Florence. There is nothing better than this town without any people. Because later, it will be hot and packed. At 6 am it was empty but for a few workers sweeping the streets, and an occasional couple who apparently lost track of time and were still making out on a bench - after all it is Italy!
I wondered around snapping away at anything and everything that inspires me or catches my eye - again not a problem here! My first stop was the Duomo - the main cathedral - Brunelleschi's Dome. What a masterpiece! As I walked around under the light of the morning dawn capturing and appreciating all of the unique elements and details, I wondered if Brunellschi ever looked at this amazing piece of architecture upon completion and asked, "dang, I should have made that corbel bigger, or I can't believe the City made us add that handrail right there...." I'm sure he did not feel he attained perfection. I don't think you every do, and if you did feel you achieved perfection, you probably didn't push the envelope enough. That's what I love about architecture, every project is a unique work, and something you learn from and add to your repertoire of knowledge. Having designed over 1000 homes now in my 30 years, I am amazed at how much I learn and am aware of now as opposed to 30 years ago. You see at such a higher level and I can only imagine what I will be thinking and seeing 30 years and hopefully, another 1000 homes later!
From the duomo I wandered to the Palazzo Vecchio and the Ponte Vecchio and the Uffizi Gallery and then back to the hotel to awake my Isabel whom I couldn't let sleep any longer! How nice to open the windows and hear the bells of the Duomo. I think I need to create an alarm app for that! With a little coffee and a quick shower we were down to the lovely hotel breakfast. I have to tell you - I love mozzarella for breakfast! At breakfast we ran into Gicela, Rebecca, and Heather who were off to shop for the day! We were off to explore this city.
Our first stop was the Duomo. The line was already forming so we popped into the campanile and started the climb and working off that mozzarella ball I just slapped onto my midsection. Ok - this is a great little work out. For 6€ we headed up, up, up. It was already hot and humid so we broke a sweat in no time. What I love about this little tower is there are little peek-a-boo openings as you climb and then intermediate platforms to first trick you into thinking you made it to the top only to find another stair across the way tempting you to go higher.....another great little metaphor for life! Did I tell you they are everywhere..... So higher we went, to the next platform and then higher yet again, until FINALLY we made it to the top where we were rewarded with a spectacular view. I love this vantage point as it gives you an opportunity to see the whole city and chart out your course for the day.
With our morning workout completed it was time to descend and then tour the Duomo which is beautiful. Its simple and unadorned interiors are an amazing contrast to the beauty and complexity of the exterior with the exception of the center domed ceiling and its stunning frescos and the inlaid marble floors. They are both amazing.
About this time we received a text from my daughter Tiffany, who is also on the trip with us, who had awoken from her jet lag sleep and was ready to join us. Luckily the Duomo is just a couple blocks from our hotel so we headed over there to wait for her...and wait for her.... and wait for her. Ok - I have one day here and I was not going to wait much longer and we couldn't reach her on the phone so we texted her to join us at the Paizza Vecchio just down the street. We made our way there and by now the piazza was packed. We finally received a text back from Tiffany that she had tried to find us but was apparently lost and somewhere by the Church Sante Croce. So Isabel stayed at the Piazza Vecchio and I headed the few blocks to the Santa Croce where I found Tiffany. We proceeded back to the Piazza Vecchio and we ventured into the Palazzo for a wonderful tour.
As we came out Larry and Gloria were there and we wandered across the Ponte Vecchio and the River Arno to a nice little spot for a quick bite and drink! From there we proceeded to the Boboli Gardens. With it being close to 100º and add a little humidity and about 500 steps and we gave ourselves another good work-out! What struck me this year as opposed to other years, is how extremely dry it is here – I mean everything is brown, the grasses are basically dead, and the leaves on the trees were already in a autumn state – not from fall but from drought.
We made our way through the gardens, back through some good shopping areas, and then back to the hotel and a little rest before we started our evening and dinner at Villa San Michele.