Wednesday, April 9 – Day 10

IMG_5721We woke up early today on another sunny day.  Today’s destination was Florence, 269 kilometers away.  We bussed to the train station where we boarded a high-speed train that traveled 250 k/hr.  Arriving in Florence 1 hour 20 minutes later, we were greeted by our guide for the morning.

Our walking tour of Florence started with a visit to the Accademia (Academy of Fine Arts).  The Accademia is home to many of the Renaissances’ famous painters and sculptors, including of course “The David,” sculpted by Michelangelo (1475-1564).  He was the only sculptor in his day who never used drawings/models of any sculpting.   The David was made when Michelangelo was only 27.  It took him 2.5. years.  It is 16 feet high.

DuomoNext, we visited the Duomo (“House of Mary’s Church”).  It was built in 1296 in Gothic style, and it took 175 years to complete it (finished in Renaissance style).  It was built as the largest cathedral in its day in the world (today, it is the 3rd largest behind St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London).  The outside of the church is decorated in all marble.  The Baptistery building associated with this cathedral took 27 years to build.  It also has a marble façade as well as a gold door.

Next, we visited Santa Crose, or the “Holy Cross” church.  This was built contemporary with the Duomo and is much simplier in design.  Lot of fmous people are buried inside, include Micheloangelo himself, Galileo, Dante, Machiavelli, and Rossini.

IMG_5753We enjoyed lunch on our own, as well as leisurely afternoon to explore this beautiful city.  Many shopped, ate gelato (Italian ice cream), and shopped.  The weather was ideal, with the bluest of blue skies.

We returned back on the high-speed rail to Rome for dinner and a relaxing evening.  What a great first full day here in Italy!

Thursday, April 10 – Day 11

We plan to visit the Catacombs, St. John Lateran, St. Paul’s Church Outside the Walls, and St. Peter in Chains.  We plan to walk to  Vatican Square at night after dinner.

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