Friday, July 26, 2013
We had one final breakfast at Castel Monastero and after saying goodbye to the great cappuccinos, we checked out of the hotel and started our drive to Florence. It took us just over an hour to get there and we had some fun trying to find a parking. We eventually found a parking garage at the Mercato Centrale, the city’s busiest food market. With the car safely parked, we wandered the streets of Florence looking for the Galleria dell’ Accademia so that we could see Michelangelo’s famous statue of David. We eventually found the gallery and scalped two tickets to get in ahead of the slow moving line-up. Once inside, we quickly found the statue and were both mesmerized by the size and quality of the piece of art we were looking at. It is the most impressive statue, and probably the best piece of art, we have ever seen. The detail was so perfect, the eyes so lifelike and Michelangelo captured David’s muscle movements perfectly. In the same viewing hall, we also saw Michelangelo’s Quattro Prigionieri – four sculpted prisoner figures trying to escape from stone. Very impressive.

As we were leaving the gallery to explore more of Florence, we were surprised to run into our good friends from Calgary – Brian and Linda Kostreba with their kids, Braedon and Sydney. We had a good chat with them and decided we should all go and have lunch together. We ended up at the Donatello Restaurant facing Florence’s Duomo and Baptistry. While the company and scenery was excellent, the food was not really that memorable.

We said our goodbyes to the Kostreba’s and had time for a one hour walk around Florence before it was time to get our car. We walked around the Duomo and Baptistry, and came across the Piazza della Signoria, where we saw a replica of the statue of David outside the Palazzo Vecchio – the “old palace” that serves as the town hall. We also saw the Loggia dei Lanzi with its various Roman statues including Perseus beheading Medusa. We made our way to the Arno River through the courtyard of the famous Uffizi, Italy’s greatest art gallery. We did not have time to go inside the gallery so we have a good excuse to come back to Florence again some day. We will, however, make sure our return trip is not at the height of tourist season! As we left the Uffizi courtyard, we came across the Ponte Vecchio, the oldest bridge in Florence, and then it was time to locate our car and get to the airport.

We found the car relatively easily and the airport was not too far from the city centre although the rental car return location could be a bit clearer marked. We checked in for the short flight to Rome and arrived at the Rome Airport Hilton at about 9.00 pm. We had a great final Italian meal of bruschetta, meat stuffed ravioli with a bacon and onion sauce, tiramisu and a glass of red wine from Montalcino before heading to bed for our flight to Montreal and Vancouver in the morning. We both agreed that we love Italy and we are really looking forward to our return visit.

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