Day 10: August 6th 1999 (Florence, Italy).
The breakfast was the same as yesterday, then on the boat bus and goodbye to Venice. We boarded Heidebloem and were thankful for air-conditioned buses. On to Florence.
We stopped for lunch at an AutoGrill, a rest-stop restaurant with self-serve food. I don’t remember what I had (some kind of pasta, I think), but it was surprisingly good for this kind of “fast” food.
We arrived in Florence at about 2:30, and checked into our hotel (up a long rambling zigzagging staircase). I was one of the lucky ones to get air-conditioning, and gladly sacrificed a view of the river to be comfortable. This was fine for me after sweating in Venice for two nights. I was still recovering from dozens of mosquito bites because we had to leave our windows wide open or we would have died. Ian was my roomy again. I figured out the controls of the air conditioner (even in Italian), and disabled the night shutoff timer so we could stay cool.
Don walked us into the historical section of Florence starting along the Arno River. We passed the Ponte Vecchio, a bridge that looks like it has houses built all over it like legos stacked up. We stopped at the old city hall (Palazzo Vecchio), where a replica of Michelangelo’s David was standing. The real one was here until an argument in the city hall caused a chair to be thrown out a window, breaking poor David’s arm off. The real one is now safely tucked away in another building (which we’ll see later).
The next stop was the Duomo, a startling pink and green church. Often called a church with pajamas on, its colorfulness contrasts with everything around it. The church is so big that there is no good place around it where you can take it all in.
Our next stop was the Accademia, where the real David was. Yes, he’s beautiful. They also had Michelangelo’s Prisoners, which may or may not be unfinished – the figures are struggling to escape the rock around them, and haven’t succeeded yet.
We had a free hour before dinner, so I went back to the hotel and washed some clothes. Dinner was in a small restaurant with semi-working air conditioning. We had bow-tie pasta with Gorgonzola (bleu cheese) and some with tomato sauce as well. They were very tasty. I had quite a bit of the included red wine with the meal, as it seemed to go perfectly with it. I was beginning to believe that wine goes better with meals than beer. Two scoops of ice cream for dessert. I overheard Don telling Ian to order the extra scoop because it was so hot today.
Ian took the kids to a discotheque, and I went on a walk with Jim and Cheryl to see the Ponte Vecchio up close. Everything was closed but the interesting parts were the doors to the stores – solid wood nicely stained, spanning the whole storefront.
To bed at 10. Ian got back at 3 AM.
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