This morning, we waited in trepidation after breakfast for the tour driver to come, having missed the tour yesterday. A couple of phone calls yesterday and a fax from American Express seemed to have worked out the issue, but one can never be sure. At 8:40, the driver came into our mad, tourist-filled, bus boarding lobby and walked straight up to me asking if I was Signora Tallo. RT was outside looking for him. I replied “Si”, and he said, “Prego.” After a week here, I knew it was time to go.
RT found us and we drove to the bus station at Santa Maria Novella to find our tour. The guy who met us there looked like he could have been Lino Rulli’s younger brother. He looked us up on his iPad, found us and told us to wait.
A short time later a couple walked up and the guy was wearing, of all things, a University of Alabama hat. The Crimson Tide is everywhere, I guess. Turns out they live in Atlanta. RT and the guy had a friendly exchange about SEC football and then the rest of the folks and our tour guide showed up.
We drove in two mini-vans across the city to the Piazzale Michelangelo! (This made it the third time RT and I had been there, but it was still cool to see.) We went back down the hill through the areas we had been yesterday, and finally ended up at the Academia, where David lives (or rules!)
The tour guide was explaining a lot of the history of the city as we were going along, and when we got to the museum, there was Signori Rulli again to check us in and give us tickets and radios to hear the guide. We skipped the line (my favorite thing) and went right in. We got to see some beautiful old musical instruments including several Stardivari violins, cellos, harpsichords, dulcimers, horns and pianos.
Then we went into the art side to view some beautiful paintings, panels and sculptures. We made our way through until beautiful David appeared around the corner. He stood there majestically in the center of an area where you could walk around him and admire him from every angle. He has a stone in his right hand and his slingshot over his left shoulder. Ready for battle, the tour guide said, but I always thought I could imagine Goliath on the ground waiting to have his head cut off.
We finished the tour through the room of plaster sculptures for a break in the bookstore and a look at someone’s idea of a joke. It was a copy of my precious David, but he was looking pretty funny. I said it was a replica of David by Michel Redneckio. After this, we then proceeded to the end of the tour.
Walking through the streets, he pointed out a home where Leonardo Da Vinci had lived and showed us the “headquarters” belonging to the Medicis. That one family produced two popes and two queens of France, along with very high government officials in Fireneze long before the unification of Italy.
Our guide left us at the Basilica of the Santa Maria del Fiore, or as the Florentines call it, Il Duomo (the Dome). It is the third largest church in the world behind St. Peter’s and St. James in London, according to our guide. It is Gothic style with a Mediterannean flair. There was no line, so Richard and I went inside. Once again, we were overwhelmed by the beauty inside.
We made our way back through the Ponte Vecchio to a side street where we found a restaurant and had some excellent food. Then we walked the long way back to the hotel to rest before going out to dinner, and do some last minute things like printing boarding passes! Tomorrow we head back to the good old USA! I will miss Italy, but I do look forward to getting home.
So I say Ciao, Italia! I know I will return to you one day.
Lino Rulli's little brother. (If you don't know Lino, please google him!)
The replica of David by Michel Redneckio
The Medici building.
The place where Da Vinci lived for a brief time.
Il Duomo- I could not get the whole building in my frame. I wanted to show some detail.
Looking up into the dome.
When they tell you to cover your shoulders to enter a church, they mean business! You don't, you end up in a hospital gown!