31 October 2015

We have been so incredibly lucky.  It seems that everywhere we have been they tell us that one or two days before it had been raining or cold or some terrible weather.  So far every day we have had here has been sunny, clear, and not hot.  Fatalistically, I feel like I'm living on borrowed time!

We were leaving the ship late today, so we had a chance to try out Mamsen's Norwegian deli, about which I had heard wonderful things, for breakfast.  Their waffles were delicious.

So today it was Florence.  We chose the "Florence on your own" excursion so we could go at our own pace, or more accurately MY own pace.  Walt, bless him, was wonderfully considerate.  He missed a lot because I couldn't move fast, but we did lots too.  We started at the church of Santa Croce, which had been our meeting place in 2010.  At that time, the Energizer Bunny (our tour guide, Ian) somehow never told the group of all the people buried inside.  It costs 6 euros to enter, but it was so worth it.  For starters, the church is gorgeous.

The cast of dead people reads like your history book.  Marconi, Enrico Fermi, Galileo, Rossini, Michaelangelo, Machiavelli, Dante....the list goes on and on.  We spent a lot of time there.

I was amused to note that now, the African peddlers don't seem to be selling art work any more (in 2010, they wanted me to buy pictures of Malcolm X).  Now they all have armloads full of selfie sticks, and from the number of people walking around with them (every other person you met, it seemed), they were doing a brisk business.

Next we went to the restaurant the tour guide had recommended, Boccadama, which is right on Santa Croce plaza.  She said they had the best lasagna in town, so of course we ordered that...and it was delicious.

While we ate, a string trio was playing out on the plaza.

Next we walked up to Palazo Vecchio where we saw lots of nude statues and I have a question...

What the heck is so offensive about female genitalia????  (I also decided that this definitely shows that male sculptors must all be gay.)  It is amazing how many pictures of penises you can find everywhere in Florence...on post cards, on aprons, on magnets, on umbrellas.  Boggles the mind.

I found somewhere to sit and sent Walt off exploring, since I had been there before and am always looking for an excuse to sit.  He went out to take a picture of the Ponte Vecchio.

We had hoped to get out and walk on the bridge, but never made it, which was OK, since I'm not into buying jewelry anyway and I understand all the shops there are gold and jewelry stores.

When we were finished at the Palazo, we walked over to the Duomo, taking our time to check out the items on display i the windows.  I suspect you wouldn't want to wear this in the rain...

(yes, that's newspaper!)

And I am still kicking myself for not buying this for Ashley, especially since I realized that she has a birthday coming up.

But we got to the Duomo and, after considering the time and his options, Walt decided NOT to climb to the top of the dome.

From here we went off in search of Vivoli, the first gelateria in Florence. founded in 1929.  We each had 3 different types of gelato.

Then we staggered back to the meeting point for our group and I hobbled to the bus, to collapse in the seat for the hour and a half ride back to the ship, at the port in Livorno.  Along the streets to the bus were groups of kids in costume for Halloween.  Some pretty snazzy costumes!

When we arrived, all the crew were lined up in their dress uniforms clapping as we got off the ship and there was this display to greet us.

There was also Halloween candy on the bed when we got to our room.

I actually just wanted to collapse and not go to dinner, but Linda convinced me I needed to come.  This was our first "fancy" dinner, which had been reserved for 8:30.  By 8:30 I was feeling a little more human and it was fun getting all dressed up to go to dinner together.  We clean up pretty good.

It was a delicious dinner and I'm glad that I got dressed up and went.  On our way back to the stateroom, we stopped to watch the musicians winding down the after-dinner music, while the crew were already starting to take down all the Halloween decorations.

So it was a very. full. day. and I will sleep well (again).  My goal for today was to erase my bad feelings about Florence from 2010 and I feel I definitely did that. No bad things about today at all.  And Santa Croce was a favorite.

Tomorrow we do Rome.  The description says that the tour will include "lots of walking."  I'm groaning already, and Char has decided to skip it entirely, since she has been to Rome before and didn't think she had two long walking days left in her, but I have not seen Rome, so I'll do what I can to keep moving.  We don't get an "at sea" day for another 2 days, but I sure am looking forward to being on the water all day long and no excursions.


Starter: the most delicious mushroom soup I've had in a very long time
Main course:  Veal Scallopini with lemon sauce
Side:  braised asparagus
Dessert:  Not what I expected when I ordered a dark chocolate creama.
It was good, but very, very heavy

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