I have always enjoyed traveling, even if it meant sleeping in a tent when I was younger. I prefer hotels and cruise cabins now, but the motivation is the same...an adventure waiting to happen. Sometimes you will find me traveling with my husband and/or family. Sometimes I will travel alone, and sometimes I will travel with friends. I hope you find it entertaining to keep up to date with me as I explore the world around me. Warning...I like to take pictures of food so don't read if you're hungry. More adventures await...see ya soon...Amy.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Goodbye Venice...Hello Florence!

Za-Za's our delicious lunch spot

Za-Za's has an expansive menu. this is the "english" side

Tortellini with Truffle and Cream sauce with Ham

Ravioli with Bolognese and Cream (not much cream however)

very cheesy lasagna!

Frank's pizza

the cutest cappuccino cups
the highlight of our day...Michelangelo's David in the Accademia

the Basilica of San Lorenzo

The Medici Chapel

The Italians drink their espresso fast while standing at a "bar". We saw people (not Italians) drinking their coffee in paper take away cups probably from this place. Why would you go to Italy for an "American Experience"

Santa Maria Novella Church

the Florence fleur-de-lis is everywhere

beautiful sculpture adorns random doorways everywhere you look

Palazzo Strozzi-an example of Florentine Renaissance domestic architecture. Built in 1489-1538 for the wealthy Filippo Strozzi by Benedetto da Malano and Simone del Pollaluolo

Piazza della Repubblica- marks the site of the Forum, the center of the Roman City.

the arch installed in the late 1800's after the city "improved" the area by sweeping out the city's old ghetto. the inscription at the top is translated as " The ancient center of the city/restored from age-old squandor/to new life"

The Baptistery in the front, the Cathedral di Santa Maria del Fiore (commonly known as Duomo) in the back

Giotto's Campanile

The largest brick dome ever constructed. Engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi.

Begun in 1296 and completed in 1436. It is covered with Polychrome Marble panels in shades of green and pink

the level of detail on these buildings requires a lot of inspection

and it requires a lot of concentration

mosaics above the door

a replica of the east Baptistery door that faces the Duomo.

the Courtyard of the Palazzo Medici Riccardi

we noticed these "medici balls" everywhere. they symbolize the crest of the medicis

we were walking along the palace and were surprised to see a door panel open and people come out

our dinner spot

wine of the region

steak with green peppercorn sauce

steak with rocket and cheese (i don't remember what kind but it was good)

spaghetti with simple tomato sauce

Fried zucchini flowers

steak and fried pototoes

Danny's dessert

Brian and I had lemon sorbet which came served in a frozen lemon and looked like something from the sea
Rain, Rain, go away! This is what I have been saying all day. Luckily, the morning rain in Venice had stopped by the time we were ready to walk to the train station. We arrived at the train station about 20 minutes before our train departed and that was when Sara Beth realized that she and Brian had left their passports in the hotel safe. The only solution was for Brian to run the 6/10 of a mile back to the hotel, get the key to get back into the room, get the passports, return the key, and then run back all in 20 minutes or less. We left Sara Beth to wait for Brian, took their luggage with us, and loaded it onto the train for them as we boarded, just in case they only had minutes to spare. I am happy to report that Brian has a new nickname…the Venetian Flash…after successfully completing his mission and arriving on the train literally a minute or two before it departed. Our train ride was about 2 hours to Florence. We arrived to overcast skies and wet sidewalks, but thankfully the rain let up long enough for us to walk to our hotel, another 6/10 of a mile. Two of our three rooms were ready so we were able to put our bags in a room and then go to lunch. We ate lunch at a local place named ZaZa's. The rain was coming down with thunder and lightening by now, but they had outdoor seating under a clear tent which was very comfortable. Our food was delicious! With full tummies, we left and went back to the hotel for a rest before we went to the Accademia. We had pre-reserved our tickets to the Accademia because we read on the internet that it would help us to avoid lines. We were really surprised when we arrived that even in the rain, the line to get in and purchase a ticket stretched down the block on both sides. We picked up our tickets and walked to the "short line" which merged between the "long lines" to enter security. There is still a line even if you have advanced tickets because you have to go through security, but it is still much shorter. First we saw the plaster cast of the Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna. We then moved on to the David statue by Michelangelo (1501-1504). It was absolutely amazing and breathtaking all at once. You truly have to see it to believe that it was carved from stone because the detail of anatomy, muscular and venous, is incredible. We also saw Michelangelo's Prisoners which were some of his unfinished pieces. He always worked from front to back and freehand unlike some artists who marked on their stone where to chisel. He believed that God had encased something beautiful in the marble and it was his duty to release it. When he was in tune with the will of God and moved by the Spirit, he would work in a frenzy, without sleep, often for days on end. The Prisoners were designed for the never-completed tomb of Pope Julius II. They were called the Prisoners by scholars, not Michelangelo himself because they looked like they were trying to free themselves from the stone. When we had seen the top priorities at the museum, Danny, Sheron, Frank and I decided to leave the museum and look around town since the rain had lifted again. We told Sara Beth we were leaving, but we didn't see Brian anywhere and she said she would get him and meet up with us later as she wanted to spend some more time at the museum. We went straight to the Medici Chapel as it was about to close. the Medici Chapel was added to the Basilica of San Lorenzo with the purpose of celebrating the Medici family, The Grand Dukes of Tuscany. The Sagrestia Nuova (New Sacristy) was designed as a type of mausoleum by Michelangelo for the Medicis. It was his first essay in architecture and on one wall is seen architectural sketches that are assumed to be his. Adorning the tops of two tombs are Michelangelo's Night and Day and Dusk and Dawn. Upon leaving the Chapel, we wandered the streets near our hotel and saw the exteriors of the Santa Maria Novella Church, the Cathedral di Santa Maria del Fiore (commonly known as Duomo), the Campanile (commonly known as Giotto's tower), and the Baptistery and the Palazzo Medici Riccardi before returning to the hotel. It wasn't until later that we discovered that Brian had lost us in the museum and left the museum before we did, thinking we had left him. Sara Beth was looking for him for quite some time until she decided to leave the museum and go back to the hotel thinking that maybe he was there. Thankfully, they found each other on the street corner and spent some time exploring on their own, seeing much of what we had seen, but also venturing out to the river. We had a wonderful dinner tonight at Trattoria Garibardi. It was close to our hotel by the central market and the rain lifted again as we walked there. Tomorrow we have a private tour of Tuscany!

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