They’re putting in 7 homes, storm drains, and sidewalks across the street. I put the GoPro in an upstairs window and set it to take a picture every 10 seconds from 9am to 5pm yesterday. The clouds are cool and I like the crane that appears at about 24 seconds to move the green roof off the detached garage.
And with that, the trip is fully documented and we can all go back to our normal routine.
It’s coming to an end. Our final art gallery was Galleria dell’Accademia where Michelangelo’s David is housed. (There’s a replica outside Palazzo Vecchio but the original was moved to the Accademia). This was a perfect gallery to save for last because it’s relatively small with just a few must-sees. I enjoyed the small History of Music section with a spinnet built by Cristofori, the inventor of the piano. In front of David we met a couple from Fayetteville, Georgia. (I was going to say “an older couple” but they were probably only 5 years older than us.) She was wondering whether David was depicted before or after slaying Goliath. He was more interested in why David was naked. “Did they really fight in the nude back then? If not, why do artists insist on removing their battle gear?” (Say with a strong Southern accent.)
I ate the most amazing artichoke heart and tomato pizza and then we took a detour to Pisa to see the famous leaning tower. Our expectations were low — we mostly wanted the tourist photos — but Pisa was a great little town. The mile walk from the train station to the leaning tower was lined with great shops, open markets, and nice views.
We fit in another crepe and gelato and headed back to Florence to retrieve our luggage from the hotel and took a final train back to Rome, exhausted. We had falafels and kebabs at a great little shop by the train station and took our final taxi at light speed to our final hotel near the Rome airport. The (French) song on the taxi radio is still in my head: Maître Gims – Est-ce que tu m’aimes. Well, it is battling it out with the gypsy accordion music.
An air traffic controller strike threatened to delay our flights home, but we all made it out on time. I watched the following movies during the 28 hours we spent in the air:
- Creed – 2.5 stars
- Concussion – 3 stars
- Hunger Games final – 3 stars
- Monster Hunt (Chinese) – a hearty 4 stars for pure weirdness and a catchy little musical number
- Half of Daddy’s Home – 1 star
I also got some reading done, but not as much as I should have.
I am happy to report that despite all the carbs consumed, I gained no weight on the trip. Monica and Wendy wore Fitbits and we averaged 25,000 steps (about 9 miles) per day. Now let’s see what kind of damage these seven boxes of Cruesli will do.
Our hotel was near an excellent pastry shop that we visited 5 times in 2 days. I was really impressed with the crepes and pastries and Nutella creations at cheap prices in Italy. A loaded crepe was €3.50 ($4) and many pastries were €1 ($1.13). I was also pleased to find a couple of Carrefour stores, which had generic versions of my coveted Cruesli au Chocolat breakfast cereal. I brought an extra bag to take home 7 boxes. It tastes like baby angels.
We met up with our second bike tour of the trip. The Rome tour was far superior, but this was fun, too. Florence is crowded and we heard more English than Italian. We had to walk our bikes much of the time because of the crowds. Our guide was nice, but who can compare to Federico? She did show us a great gelato shop and had some entertaining trivia on Michelangelo, the Medici family, and others. I looked some of it up later – she was pretty good, but stated some disputed things as matters of fact.
That afternoon we visited yet another art gallery, Uffizi.
That evening we revisited some of the bike tour sites for a closer look. My favorite was the Basilica of Santa Croce where you can find the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, and Rossini, as well as a cool Dante statue out front.
Another highlight was a Roma (gypsy) band outside of Il Duomo. I bought their CD and have it on repeat this week.
We explored Venice and visited the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica. By this point our energy for art galleries was on the wane, so you might have seen us rushing through with some quick nods at items that looked famous.
That afternoon we got in our Gondola Ride. Michael picked a short guy with a great personality and we really enjoyed it. When he heard we were going to Florence next he recommended a restaurant with giant steaks, which we visited the next day.
Venice was beautiful and interesting, but I felt like one day was enough.
We sprung for First Class again and took an evening train to Florence.