We stepped off the ship at the port at 7:30 and found our guide. She was going to drive us into Florence (known in Italian as Firenze) where we would get a walking tour by a local guide for a few hours and then some free time to have lunch and do what we liked. We joined another couple (Mother and Daughter) and headed inland. We drove on the on the FiLiPi Highway (Firenze, Livorno, Pisa).
Our first stop was at San Michele a Torri, a small Tuscan winery a few miles outside of Florence. This winery had very nice views of the valley.
Our next stop was an overlook of the city. The views were incredible, Florence is breathtakingly beautiful.
Before we got into the center of Florence, we stopped at the Piazzi de Santa Croce. It was dominated by a huge church. Alex grabbed a coffee as we hung out.
|Notice Alex, Brenda and Julie in the lower right.|
|Golden Door on Bapistry|
|We saw several stores with chocolate waterfalls in the background.|
|Piazza della Signoria|
|The covered walkway between the palaces|
Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Dante
|More of the covered walkway|
One thread was the Medici Family, which ruled Florence for over 400 years. Florence was run by many guilds (today we'd call them unions) dedicated to banking, shipping, clothing, etc. The Medici family started in shipping and started loaning money. They ended up doing banking and became the most powerful family and rulers. Their palace was spectacular. Cosimo I de' Medici married Eleonora di Toledo of Naples. She was rich and used to the finer things in life and hated the Medici Palace. She bought the Pitti Palace across the Arno (about a kilometer away). Cosimo wanted to be able to spend time in both places and constructed a walkway high up above all of the building so he could walk directly between the two buildings, including going over the Ponte Vecchio. The covered bridge always had shops and Medici didn't like that they were common and declared only jewelry shops could be on the bridge and today that is what is along there. We essentially walked along and under this walkway for the rest of the tour.
Lunch was next after the walking tour and we stopped at Mammamia Restaurant for some pizza and a bottle of wine (a Ruffino Chianti). It was quite wonderful.
We then headed over to the Pitti Palace to tour the Boboli Gardens. We only had about an hour, but wandered up the hill to see the views. It was a spectacular view and wonderful gardens.
After that, it was back to the ship and get ready for pre-dinner drinks in the Avenue Saloon and dinner in Waterside. We had gotten friendly with the sommelier Mila and she managed to get us a bottle of the wonderful wine we had the previous night in Prego.
|BBQ Tiger Shrimp|
|Mixed Garden Greens and Green Goddess Dressing|
|Wagyu Flat Iron Steak|
|Raspberry and Vanilla Trifle|
|Tomato Soup (with mini Macs and Cheese Sandwich)|
|Rum Raisin Ice Cream|