Florence (Firenze) is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Personally, my favorite spot is the Piazza Della Signoria. You can sit in an outdoor restaurant and view the goings and comings of Florentine life. The statue of "The Rape of the Sabine Women" is gripping because of its violence. It was the basis of the movie
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
On to the Academia Gallery to see the famous Michelangelo's David, done in 1501 to 1504. A skylight casts natural light on David and he dominates the room. Other Michelango's statues, some completed, some partially done occupy the walkway to David. This is my first in depth look at the statue. We were not rushed and we had plenty of time to encircle the artwork. I observed that David was clutching the stone in his right hand that he's about to fire off to flatten Goliath. He is holding his sling in his left hand. Behind his right leg is a bush that Michelangelo placed there to support the statue. The fearless expression of David's eyes as he is about to fight the giant is captivating.
We could not enter the Uffizi Gallery (too crowded) but we had a lot of fun with the mimes outside of it. On to the Ponte Vecchio, the Golden Bridge across the Arno River - more jewelry and 18-carat gold items than on 47th Street in Manhattan. Our wonderful friends the Greenes and the Greenbergs picked out remembrance pieces from Ponte Vecchio.
Next day a limousine took us to San Gimignano, Siena and Chionti. Riding through the countryside was exhilarating. Olives, and terraced grape arbors and quaint but darling towns filled the countryside. San Gimignano, difficult to pronounce, but was a walled medieval city with leather shops and pottery stores. The Italian artists were so brilliant in their ideas. The gelato ice cream was outstanding.
In Siena there were two beautiful churches. One was stark, reverent and plain and one was beautifully ornate. The cathedral with multicolored pillars and intricate mosaic floor panels was a wonder. The huge Piazza was down many steps from the cathedral.
The town of Chianti as you have already guessed is famous for its wine. We entered an electronic wine cellar. There were several hundred varieties of Chianti. For 10 euros you were given a plastic card, which you inserted into an electronic machine with many wine bottles attached. A button was pressed and a tasting amount of wine flowed out. This is how you made your selection.
Back to our glorious Grand Hotel Vittoria in Montecatini. Back to Florence. Back to Jericho - a wonderful five days.