It’s the 2nd time I’ve been to Florence and I fell in love with it this time. March is much colder but there are not as many people. We started with a walking tour – the duomo (Santa Maria Del Fiore) is gorgeous! The Bronze Baptistery doors are really cool! We visited the Uffizi Gallery & Accademia. They have tons of Renaissance art & of course, the David. My favorite statues were of the unfinished slaves. Michelangelo used to go up into the mountains to pick out the marble, he said the marble spoke to him & he was letting out whatever was in there. This piece he never finished (hence the slaves..because they were not free). It was cool – it really looked like they were trying to escape.). We saw Ospedale degli Innocenti (Hospital of the Innocents')--a place where moms could drop off their unwanted babies by putting them on a secret wheel in the opening of the wall. It dates from the 1400's, in the 1600’s bars were put in place so that only newborns would fit through and be left because too many babies were being abandoned this way. Florence is beautiful & it has lovely bridges. We walked across Ponte Vecciho (a bridge that dates back to 996) – it still hosts lots of merchants (high end now). The food in Florence is amazing – I didn’t have one bad meal. I did try rabbit, hare & ossobuco – I liked the ossobuco, the rabbit & hare were okay. I have to mention that Italians drink wine with dinner & espresso after. I ordered diet coke with dinner & hot tea after. Which do you think is cheaper?? Wine/coffee – 5.00 and Diet coke/hot tea – 15.00. Every time I ordered the diet coke - the waiter would just shake his head in disappointment.San Gimignano is a small walled medieval town. I loved this place! We had lunch in the center of town; in an outdoor café (gelato was amazing!). We climbed the stairs of the church tower – what a great view of the countryside from up there. There is good shopping with lots of pottery shops – wish I would have had more time here.
Lucca – is a walled city. We were there over the weekend & there were lots of people out running, riding bikes & having picnics on the wall. We climbed the Guinigi tower – there are lots of trees & a small garden at the top. Again it was worth the hike – the views were gorgeous! We saw Volto Santo di Lucca (The Holy Face of Lucca), it’s a corpus of a crucifix, located in the cathedral of San Martino. Medieval legends stated that it had been sculpted by Nicodemus (who assisted Joseph in depositing Christ in the tomb) and brought to Lucca in AD 742. Puccini is from Lucca – they have statues & museums of him. Some of the restaurants are named after his operas. Also, Napoleon’s sister lived in Lucca – we saw the palace she lived in.Chianti – is a wine region in Tuscany, the views are beautiful. Rolling hills with vineyards everywhere – unfortunately rolling, windy roads in a bus, not so great – I would say half of the bus had motion sickness by the time we arrived. I thankfully sat in the front seat ;) We stopped at Castello D’Albola winery. 1st we did a tour, saw the property, the cellar & how the wine was made. Then we had a wine tasting with lots of prosciutto & bread in between. Mmm – great way to end a trip!