Florence is the mecca of art. I came into the city a little worried about this considering my only true experience with art was the hashtag “artsy” on the ‘gram. Well, I took a class in high school, but I don’t think my popsicle basket is really on the level of the David yet (maybe one day); however, Florence provided an enjoyable immersion into the art world for anyone from an art connoisseur to the common man (like me).
The first day in Florence Team Michelangelo embraced the challenge of exploring the epicenter of art culture. We started the day learning about the Medici family and the influence they imparted on the Florentine Renaissance. We then absorbed all the knowledge concerning Galileo and his experiments that lead to revolutionary and even dangerous revelations. The food experience for the day was found at Fabio’s Francesco Vini where I had the best pizza I’ve ever had. It was spiritual. From there, the group and our happy bellies meandered to the Academia where we experienced the David. The highlight of the David experience was hearing everyone else’s impression on the huge block that Michelangelo turned into arguably the most famous sculpture of all time. The David was incredible; however, I was most struck by the iconic Duomo because of the sheer size and the ornate detail that accompanied to this size.
The highlight of Day 2 was Michelangelo Plaza, Uffizi, and the night adventure on the Ponte Vecchio. Michelangelo provided a sight of Florence that could not be replicated. All the landmarks that we now had knowledge about could be seen from the plaza. The Uffizi housed a variety of some fairly well known artists: Michelangelo, Da Vinci, and Boticelli to name a few. We experienced many priceless pieces of art in the Uffizi, but nothing compared to the art of our dinner at Il Latina. This place should be sanctioned to have a disclaimer on the door, “Gluttony Found Here.” This six course dinner left people vomiting, laying in the streets of Florence, and housing faces of sheer defeat. It was AWESOME.
The third day we got to check the Leaning Tower of Pisa off our bucket list. It really does lean. Pisa does not have that much more in the way of sights to see so we checked it off our list and then quickly returned to Florence. Dinner that night we dined with a great host, Fabio, at Francesco Vini which was a meal that I will forever remember. We dined like kings and queens followed by a personal tour of an ancient Roman colosseum that now served as Fabio’s wine cellar.
The final day in our second to last city was a free day. So, 12 of us went to a small Tuscan city, San Gimignano while the other 4 went to explore Venice. This small Tuscan town served as a great relaxer for the group and provided an awesome opportunity to hangout and connect with the 12 people on a day that there was not a structured schedule. The Tuscan countryside combined with Geletaria Dondoli (awarded the best gelato in the world… twice) provided an incredible free day experience. This place will serve as my future retirement home and I already selected a house.
Rome is our last city and I am beyond excited to take advantage of the ancient history the city has to offer and to continue in solidifying friendships with the amazing people on this trip.