Florence, Italy
Tuesday, August 17th
We got up early and went to catch the train to Florence.  We had only a few minutes to make the
train and we were really hustling through the crowds.  We had heard Europeans just do not care
much for obnoxious, rude Americans, so before I left America, I put a Canadian key chain on my big
backpack.  We figured if anyone got mad at us, maybe they would blame our lack of intelligence on
the Canadians not realizing we were Americans.  Besides, Mark works with a Canadian that he just
loves giving a hard time, so we thought it might make for a good story.  So here we are running
through the train station to catch the train, and I have this key chain on my back with Mark a few
steps behind.  There were a couple of rather tall young men standing in the ticket area begging for
money as I go flying by completely ignoring them.  WELL!  Don’t you know they got rather unhappy
with me and started fussing and fuming about how rude these people are.  Fists raised at my back
and screeching in Italian.  I was completely oblivious as I was so focused on catching the train.  As
Mark goes past them all he hears is “DAMN CANADIANS!”  He was still laughing as we boarded the
train and told me about it.  Incidentally, his Canadian co-worker also thought it was good for a
laugh.  Magically, we made it on the train and on the right one, no less.  We also got a first class
seat…with AIR conditioning!   
We arrived in Florence.  “Firenze”.  A very busy city.  Writers describe Florence as being so
densely built that when it rains, the people don’t get wet.  And they are right.  Busses everywhere.  
Mopeds galore.  Lots of rude, rather pushy people.  I guess they are originally from America.  
Definitely in a different part of Italy.  But we had a wonderful hotel right by the train station and we
didn’t get mugged going in and out of the station like we had been warned might happen.  And off
we went to find some more good food.  Mark found a terrific little eatery.  He got “gnocchi”…potato
dumplings with gorgonzola cheese and I had fettucini with Tuscan sauce.  It was the best food we
had so far.  
We walked back to the hotel (The Grand Hotal
Minerva
) after getting gelati, of course.  We were
tired and everyone was being very slow.  We
finally got our gelati and then got chased off
while we were trying to sit at the outdoor café that
was available to those eating gelati.  We never
did figure out the reason why.  I think we were
pretty tired of Italians at this point.  Florence was
not good to us.    But we went back to our
wonderful hotel and I took a very relaxing bath
while Mark surfed the Internet.  Then we went to
the top of the roof and relaxed at the outdoor
restaurant and drank “buono” good wine,
munched snacks and planned the next day.  We
got to see the sun set over “Firenze”.  It was
beautiful and made it all worthwhile.  Am I
dreaming?  Pinch me!
We sauntered over to the next Duomo, Santa Maria del Fiori.  This cathedral is HUGE!  The outside is covered with pink, green and white marble.  This
duomo was built with a hole in the roof of its dome.  It was built before the technology existed to create the dome.  But no big deal.  They knew that
someone would figure it out soon enough.  This was the first Renaissance dome built.  And of course we had to clime to the top.  430 “scales” up.  (Dang,
this is hard now that I’m 46!)  “Scaled” back down the Duomo and Mark got Euros from the ATM while I watched everyone watch him.  Yikes!  
Then we ran to the Accademia to see Michelangelo’s David.  We made reservations before
going…something that HAS to be done.  The lines to get in were several hours long and by
making reservations by phone the day before, we got ushered to the front of the line by an
escort and had to wait only 5 minutes.  It felt absolutely wicked.
    
Once inside, we went straight to the David sculpture.  He is quite large and very interesting.  
He is considered to be the masterpiece of the Renaissance.  “Man” was now considered a
confident individual, not just a plaything for God.  His right hand is oversized (I thought his feet
were too!) to represent the hand of God that powered David to slay the giant.  We looked at a
few of the other paintings and sculptures, but there were a lot of American children taking a lot
of unauthorized photographs and generally causing trouble, so we didn’t stay too long.