Firenze, the city of flowers

    Well, in our fast paced journey across some very lovely places, we have now made our way to Florence, Firenze in Italian. Yesterday we woke up at midnight your time and got ready to travel from Rome, via Assisi, to Florence. We had a chance to stop in Assisi and visit a pottery factory. Imagine the colors you would find in a vibrant summer garden and paint them onto terracotta clay in the most intricate lace and you will have an idea of what Umbrian pottery looks like. Also in Assisi we visited three churches associated with Saint Francis, the one where he died, the one where he was buried, and the one where his dear friend Saint Clara is buried. The whole town of Assisi is built into the side of a mountain and with three different layers of fortification walls that were built as it grew, it is a lovely medieval town with a focus on the peace that Saint Francis sought to demonstrate with his life.

     After Assisi, we drove into Florence where we had dinner together and headed to Hotel Donatello, were I am sitting right now. Today we began with a walking tour of Florence, starting at the famous Duomo, the cathedral featuring a magnificent dome designed by Brunelleschi during the Renaissance. The entire outside of the cathedral is covered in geometrically inlayed white, pink, and green marble. We then walked through the town with our local guide who shared with us stories about the people of Florence. At the end of our walk we got to visit an Italian leather factory, and for our portion of the group, we had to dash off to the Uffizi where we had reservations to see what could be easily be the best collection of Renaissance master paintings. After climbing what seemed like a million stairs, we walked through the galleries and I know I spent most of that time with my mouth open in awe and my pencil trying to capture small motifs I would have never been able to see in a print of some of these fantastic paintings. Next it was on to the Accademia for some quality time with Michelangelo, or at least a collection of his works, including the David and an evening out on the town shopping and relaxing with friends.

     Tomorrow we are heading out of Florence and onto Venice, via Bologna. At this point my head is so full of lovely things I cannot quite imagine that we have more to see but when we cross those canals and enter the city built on water….. well, I will have to make room in my brain for more lovely things.

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