Friday, August 07, 2009

A Wonderful Evening in Florence

We arrived today after a wonderful train ride. We sat next to a man and his nephew. Vincent & Bryan were from Orange County, California and were traveling with their family. They had just spent three days in Venice and had a similar experience to us. Next stop for everyone was Florence. Vincent was born in Vietnam and this was his first trip to Europe, Bryan just graduated from HighSchool and was also enjoying his first trip. We had a lot of fun discussing where we all had been.

Then we arrived in a very hot Florence - the temperature topped out at 95 degrees, but at
the heat of the day with the sun reflecting off the pavement, it felt like it could have been 105 degrees. However, instead of taking the cab - we decided that we could trek to our hotel. Thank you - Bruce for encouraging us to use carry-on luggage. It's much easier than a full sized suitcase. When we arrived at the hotel - and carried our small luggage up the two flights of stairs - we were in much need of some air conditioning. So we took the opportunity to relax in the cool room and put our feet up - while planning our evening adventure.

First stop the Duomo - which happens to be less than a 1/4 mile or if you are on the metric
system 400 meters from our hotel. We took 463 steps to the topof the dome designed by Brunelleschi - it's actually two concentric domes built from red bricks. It is the world's largest church dome of it's time and there was no supporting frame used in it's construction from 1420 to 1436 - so needless to say it's pretty impressive. We got there just before it closed. The weather had cooled a bit and it was less crowded, plus the light was a little better for photos.

Then we headed to dinner - we were famished because we didn't
have lunch. We went to a little place that was recommended by the guide book we are using Italy for Dummies - (yes it's fun to carry around - the looks you get are great.) The book said we would get a good reasonable meal, and they were right. It was funny because there were several American families there carrying the same book.

After dinner we headed to the river - we enjoyed the piazza outside the Uffizi gallery before hitting the Ponte Vecchio (the bridge known for it's gold shops.) The shops on the bridg e were all closed -but there was a musician that drew a crowd. We enjoyed his music and a little people watching. After a while though, gelato was calling to us, so we headed back towards the hotel.

When we stopped for gelato - westarted talking to a couple from Ireland - who happened to be sitting next to us on the bridge. We started chatting, and it turns out they are both teachers. She teaches English and history, he teaches music. We exchanged emails because she was interested in the International Shakespeare Student Film Festival - that Bruce, Doug and I are organizing. As we were chatting it up and having a great time, a couple from Oregon (Lynea teacher/writer and Jim, yoga instructor) joined in our conversation. We chatted four nearly 45 minutes. It was so much fun - meeting new people. It's part of what I love about traveling.

Then we headed back to the hotel to rest up for a big day of museums tomorrow. I told mom as we were standing on the top of the Duomo - Florence is so different than Venice - but it's also amazing. I can't wait to see what the next part of our trip brings.

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