Saturday, October 2, 2010

Day 8: Florence & Tuscany

Since Todd & I toured Naples & Rome with my parents, we decided to spend our day on Thursday in Florence and Tuscany on our own. This was the day that I was most excited for before the trip. We again had a private driver & tour guide, Guido, who was going to show us all the sites in Florence and then take us to a winery in Tuscany for lunch and a wine tasting.

We met up with Guido at the port in Livorno and had an hour drive to Florence, a city which is known for its art & architecture during the Renaissance period. Since Guido was from the area, he knew all the historical and well-known spots to take us. Our first stop was at the cathedral in Florence, also known as the Duomo. We were lucky to have Guido as our guide because he somehow knew everyone in the city and we got some amazing parking spots. We would literally be parking right in front of churches and monuments and there would be no other cars in sight.

I wanted to climb to the top of the Duomo for a birds eye view of the city but the line was already ridiculously long and we didn't have time. Luckily, I remembered reading that you could also climb to the top of the bell tower, right next to the Duomo, and there was no line for it. We climbed the 414 stairs and had a spectacular view of Florence.

Front of the Duomo on the left with the dome in the back, where I orginally wanted to climb to the top, and the bell tower on the right

Standing in front of the cathedral

A view of the dome of the Duomo on our way up to the top of the bell tower

Florence

Todd & I at the top of the bell tower (if you look closely, you can see people around the top of the dome in the background....I think we had a better view from the bell tower though)

Guido then drove us over to the Palazzo Pitti, where the Medici family lived in the 1500s. The Medici's were the most powerful family in Florence from the 15th to 18th century. We walked by the Uffizi Gallery, one of the oldest and most famous art museums and made our way to the Ponte Vecchio, a bridge with shops all along the edge.

The orginal David statue by Michaelangelo used to be outside the Palazzo Pitti, but now it's in a museum so we saw the replica

Notice the brick in the middle that looks like it has a face on it

Up close

This brick is on the corner of the Palazzo Pitti and is known as The Nuisance. Michelangelo carved this self-portrait with his hands & brick behind his back. Guido pointed this out to us because otherwise we would never have noticed it. In fact, no one was even taking pictures of it, it's kind of like a hidden gem.

Along the river were chains with lots of locks

Guido had us stop at a store to buy a lock so that we could lock up our love forever

We walked down to the Ponte Vecchio, kissed, and threw the key to the lock into the river

We met back up with Guido and he took us to the Basillica of the Holy Cross, which is not only a church, but also is home to a leather school.

Sign for the leather school

Todd & I were able to watch them emboss the leather with gold flakes

I wanted about 10 of these leather purses

Front of the Basillica

Michelangelo's tomb in the church

Before heading into the Tuscan countryside, Guido took us up to the Piazzale Michelangelo, a famous square with a panoramic view of Florence.

Like I said, Guido knew everyone and was apparently allowed to park among the vendors.....notice how there are no other cars in sight

View of the Duomo

Another view of the Duomo and Palazzo Pitti

Todd & I

Todd enjoying a Duff beer.....apparently it's the beer Homer drinks on The Simpsons

On our drive through Tuscany, we stopped at San Gimignano, a small walled medieval hill town. It is mainly famous for its medieval architecture, especially its 14 towers.

Inside the town, the streets were lined with shops & restaraunts

Beautiful vineyards

View of San Gimignano

The rest of the afternoon, Todd & I spent at a real Tuscan Winery, Tenuta Torciano. We were served delicious homemade food and tasted a lot of chianti.

Sign for the winery

Outside of the winery

The view of the barrels from our table

We each had 9 wines to taste

The other table next to us after their tasting...I think there were 60 something glasses

Our appetizer of bread with olive oil made on site, meats, and cheeses

Next dish was an authentic Tuscan vegetable dish with a generous amount of olive oil poured on...it looks gross but tasted delicious

Our main dish was lasagna with truffle oil on top...the truffle oil made the meal

After we were done eating & drinking

Our day in Florence & Tuscany came to an end around 5:00 PM and it was definitely one of my favorite places we went to. Once we were back on the cruise ship, we went to dinner, the casino, and another production show. Our time in Italy was over but we were heading to France for the next couple days.

Todd & I at dinner

1 comment:

marathonmaiden said...

i both love and hate you for dragging this trip into so many posts. i'm thinking i need to save my money pronto.

way cool about the michelangelo self-portrait! definitely a hidden gem of the city :)