We then wander through the Piazziale degli Uffizi to the Arno river and the famed Ponte Vecchio bridge. From there we made our way to the Pitti Palace and then through the south side neighborhoods to the Ponte all a Carraia across the Arno to the north side and then down the beautiful shopping street of the Via della Vigna Nuova and back to the Piazza della Repubblica where we stopped for a cappuccino and then back to the hotel.
It was about 8am and I headed back to the room to freshen up and join Isabel for our day. We walked Barbara and Molly to the Galleria dell' Accademia where they had a private tour of the Gallery and of course the rear David sculpture. The rest of my travelers were on their own private tours of the city.
Isabel and I took a stroll through the city, enjoyed a few more churches and sites and headed back to the hotel for a siesta. At 2pm we met at the lobby of the hotel where we went on a private walking tour of the city and enjoyed many sites. There is always so much to learn, and the private walking tours with just 4 or 5 people is the best way to do it.
Once the tour was over, we grabbed a quick bite and made our way to the hotel for a little more jet lag catch up rest and then it was time for one of our included premiere dinners - Villa San Michele. This is truly one of the best venues to dine I have ever experienced. A former monastery designed by none other than Michaelangelo himself, this hotel restaurant and staff are truly memorable. We have dined here every year for the last eight years and even though it is at the beginning of the trip, it truly one of the most memorable moments of the trip.
You drive up the hills northeast of Florence and then arrive at this beautiful stone and stucco facade with the most breathtaking and romantic views of Florence. After a few pictures of the group its inside, through the monastery and to the back terrace garden for bellinis and appetizers. We enjoy the sunset and then its onto the loggia and our table at the far west end where we are met by my same waiter over the course of the last 8 years, Antanelo. He is the best! We had selected the menu and paired the wines starting with a lobster salad, followed by a wild mushroom ravioli, and then the roast sirloin with a brunello wine sauce and finally crepes and a dessert wine. Fantastic and what a wonderful time with my travelers.
A cab ride home and a few nitecaps and a cigar on the terrace in front of the hotel and before we knew it we were into day 4!