To even begin to describe the beauty of this country is quite futile. Walking through streets that were built before the medieval ages and seeing the great art that you’ve heard and read about since you were young, is just magical. We were so grateful to have Sally and Patrick, Paul’s sister and brother-in-law, join us recently. As silly as it sounds, to see a familiar face and hear a familiar voice almost brought tears to my eyes! It’s been so special to share part of this incredible experience with them.
Our first venture out was to Florence, just about an hour’s drive from our little villa. Again with the help of Rick Steves’, we found parking and the bus that we rode into the city. This spectacular place is home to the most famous Duomo, Michelangelo’s David, and of course, many other treasured pieces of artwork and history.
You are always just a few steps away from an amazing restaurant in any Italian city. While walking along the Arno River by the famous bridge, Ponte Vecchio, we stopped for lunch at the most charming little spot called the Rivalta Cafe. With a gorgeous fresco on the ceiling, an enormous chandelier and the perfect old world atmosphere, we all enjoyed one of our best meals so far. I had a pesto gnocchi that was to die for! But Paul, Sally and Patrick all ordered lime chicken and mashed potatoes and Win had a burger… missing home maybe?
Meaning “old bridge”, Ponte Vecchio is Florence’s most famous bridge. Originally these shops were all butcher shops because it was simple to throw the left over carcuses into the river. Now they are lovely little silver and gold shops with musicians playing and couples snuggling while enjoying the incredible view.
Brasher found this little shark toy, now named “Sharky” at a market in Camaiore. Sharky has been on every adventure with us so far!
Sally and I wanted to do just a little bit of shopping… our sweet boys waited so patiently!
This beautiful carousel was in the middle of the Piazza della Repubblica near the Duomo. The boys have sincerely enjoyed these rides along with the regular gelato breaks!
Some interesting history that I read was that when the Duomo was built, the technology to complete a dome had not yet been created. The builders were confident someone would eventually figure it out and left the hole open where the dome would go. It took 14 years for architect Filippo Brunelleschi to build the structure and finish the first Renaissance dome that would be copied by many cathedrals throughout history.
These magnificent bronze doors are located on the Baptistery that faces the Duomo. These happen to be a copy of the original doors created by artist Lorenzo Ghiberti. Michelangelo claimed these doors were fit to be the gates of paradise.
Brasher and Patrick, along with every person who walks by are amazed at this incredible building!
Our next excursion was to Sienna, which has actually been one of my favorite cities so far. While Florence was grand and even mind-blowing, Sienna is small, intimate and quite charming. We’ll share those images very soon!