Thursday, September 8, 2011

Florence - July 2011

Que bella!  Italy was truly magnificent, full of beautiful things that were hundreds of years old.  In the case of Pompeii, we have to revise that to thousands.  Our itinerary included three Italian ports and we began with Florence.

We were herded off the ship like cattle that morning as usual.  We followed the Royal Caribbean "lollipop" with our tour's number on it.  Every day it was a different number, so I was glad they slapped the circular sticky tag on me.  I may feel like 32 on the inside, but the lines on my face are screaming middle-aged, maybe menopausal and definitely forgetful.  The issue with Florence, and really all three of our Italy stops, was the sheer number of people.  There were no less than five big cruise ships in each of the ports, plus the folks who had arrived by other means - planes, cars and trains.  It was apopular acountry.  (I noticed some Italians had a tendency to add the short a sound at the beginning of certain words - so acute to ahear!)

So off we went, following the RC lollipop with the number 17 on it through a sea of shorts and sun visor wearing tourists loitering in the public squares of Florence.  

This is the front entrance of Santa Maria del Fiore, the great cathedral, located in Piazza del Duomo.  The facade of the basilica is covered in white, red and green marble.  Below you'll see that I took pics from several different vantage points.  I kept getting stopped by the criss-crossing paths of tour guides with all of the other gawking tourists in tow.  And the folks with babies in strollers or toddlers on leashes - I'm sure the little ones enjoyed their intro to the Italian Renaissance.  It seems lots of folks shared my same brilliant idea to take a Mediterranean cruise in July. 

Above is a picture of the Baptistry, directly across from the cathedral.  It's an octagon shaped structure where baptisms (duh) have been performed since the 11th century.  Below is a shot I took to show some of the detail on the facade.

Here are Annie and her friend Claire pictured in front of the church, when we had a rare break in the constant stream of fellow tourists.  It's obvious somebody got a little too much sun the day before.

Ahh, Italy - exposed breasts and penises as far as the eye could see.  I could have supported myself as a model for all the local artists since they favored fluffy girls back in the day.  

We continued to fight our way through the crowds to get a glimpse of the Uffizi Gallery

and the Ponte Vecchio, a medieval stone arch bridge that spans the Arno River.

We were finally turned loose here 

I had homemade tagliatelle in a mushroom cream sauce and washed it down with this beverage of choice (check out the Italian on the can - in Europe they call it Coke Light instead of Diet Coke) while perched under a big umbrella with a view of the piazza.  The Franciscan Santa Croce cathedral was just over my right shoulder.  It was constructed over 500 years ago and houses the remains of famous folks like Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli.  

We ended a frenzied day of touring with a lovely meal in the ship's dining room right after the summer sun was extinguished when it sank into the Mediterranean.

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