DAY 13 – SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 25:
Today was our last day of the tour. After breakfast we walked to the train station for our “high-speed” journey to Florence, the home of Michelangelo. The ride was both smooth and fast (245 kilometer per hour). Sunny skies yet cool temps (highs about 50) greeted us when we arrived.
Meeting our Florence guide (Letizia) at the station, we walked for the next 2/5 hours or so around this beautiful city. Our first stop was to the Academy of Fine Arts where the famous David sculpture is. Michelangelo sculpted this when he was only 26 years old. It weighs 17,000 pounds and stands 17 feet high. It is made of one piece of marble. It took him three years to sculpt (1502-1504).
Nearby was the Maria del Fiore Cathedral. This is a massive church that took 140 years to complete (1296-1436 AD). The massive dome took 16 years alone. The façade of the cathedral was done in the 19th century however.
Walking to the area of the Arno River, we also saw Santa Croce Church. Built in 1294 AD, the church serves as the burial place for some of the great artists. This includes Michelangelo, Rossini, Machiavelli, and Galileo Galilei, There is also a memorial to Dante, but his sarcophagus is empty (he is actually buried in Ravenna as he was exiled from Florence).
For lunch, many of us enjoyed pizza on one of the main squares of Florence. We also enjoyed a free afternoon of shopping (Florence is known for its leathers).
Walking back to the train station, we boarded our train at 5:15 back to Rome for dinner. We all retired early as we wake up early tomorrow (4:45 a.m.) for our flight home.
DAY 14 – SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26: ROME, U.S.A.