Gathering Graces 7/11/2017

*Our early morning started with Eric bringing Kellee and I coffee in our room.  We are both going to miss those morning coffees from Eric.
*My foot was still hurting, but it was better with my shoes on.  And it seemed the more I walked with shoes on, the better my heal was feeling.
*We got all our bags packed up in the back of the Lee station wagon, and said goodbye to Villa Magnolia and Mr. Smith and Harlowe.  Then we were on our way to Florence to spend our last day together.
*The night before Kellee had booked us a room at the Hotel Mirage so we could stay there before heading to the airport for our early flight on Wednesday.  When we arrived at the hotel, the staff was very friendly and accommodating.  We were able to store our baggage in a locked closet.  Eric and April could leave their car in the parking lot. They helped us buy bus tickets.  And I finally got an email saying we got the tickets to see The David, and we were able to print off the voucher at the front desk.  One of the hotel clerks even let me take over her computer to get the job done.

Taking over at the Hotel Mirage
*Our bus trip was quite an adventure.  We got on the bus okay, but missed our first stop, so we got off at another stop.  Then we found out which bus would take us to where we needed to be.  Got on that bus, which was quite tiny, and ended up being quite crowded.  But we made it to the area around the Florence Cathedral, and our voucher worked, even though we were later than the noon time it said on the voucher, we were let right in the Galleria dell'Accademia.
*The first thing we did was go see the statue of David.  It is as magnificent as everyone says it is.  The height, the detail of the muscles and feet and hands, it was unbelievable. 
Michelangelo's David
*This gallery was also full of other marble statues Michelangelo had created, as well as plaster casts of other famous works. 

The detail was amazing

Stories of Christ and Saint Francis of Assisi.
*There were also paintings and other artwork.  The above artwork was a panel depicting Stories of Christ and Saint Frances of Assisi.  Here is the description of this artwork:  The panels and lunette most probably contained a cupboard containing relics, though their original location is still debated by critics.  We know that two precious relics were kept in the sacristy of the church:  one, a thorn from the crown of Jesus; the other, a fragment from the True Cross.

Antonio Stradivari Violin 1716
*Another area was devoted to musical instruments.
*When we were done at the Galleria dell’Accademia, we walked toward the Cathedral.  The outside of this Cathedral is stunning with white, green and pink marble, and the intricate designs on the outside was beautiful.  Eric and Tina were hoping to get tickets to climb to the top of the Duomo, but all tickets were sold out.  So we got in line to visit inside the Cathedral.  Again, another beautiful Cathedral.  I ventured downstairs and found a wonderful little gift shop where I made some great last minute purchases.

The Florence Cathedral and Duomo.

Lunch in Florence
*We went inside a little cafe near the Cathedral for lunch.  I ordered some kind of Italian meat with tomatoes and Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese.  It was delicious.
Inside the Cathedral
*We spent some time around the Cathedral, then headed toward the Ponte Vecchio bridge.   Built very close to the Roman crossing, the Ponte Vecchio, or Old Bridge, was the only bridge across the Arno in Florence until 1218. The current bridge was rebuilt after a flood in 1345. During World War II it was the only bridge across the Arno that the fleeing Germans did not destroy. Instead they blocked access by demolishing the medieval buildings on each side. On November 4, 1966, the bridge miraculously withstood the tremendous weight of water and silt when the Arno once again burst its banks.

Our last photo together in Italy on the Ponte Vecchio Bridge in Florence.  April, myself, Kellee, Tina.
*There was also a little market around this area that we stopped in for some shopping.  Florence is known for leather working, and there are lots of opportunities to buy leather items all around the city. 
*We ate dinner and I had a wonderful meal of ravioli.  It was very delicious.

Final meal in Italy....Ravioli.
*Firenze is a beautiful city, and I am so fortunate to have spent some time there.
*It was time to go find out bus that would take us back to the hotel.  We had no problems connecting buses on our way back, and we made it safely back to the hotel, got our luggage, got checked in, and made it to our room.  We then went back to the lobby to say our goodbyes to Eric and April, shed some tears, and then head back to our room.  Kellee and I stood our on the balcony of our hotel room and waved to Eric and April as they drove off.
*We had a nice little room with three single beds.  We all showered after a hot and steamy day in Florence, and all tried to get some sleep before our early morning wakeup and 4:30 a.m. shuttle ride to the Florence Airport.

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