Italy is a magical place that feeds the imagination. You can feel the history everywhere you go. It calls to me and I must go! We just returned from a quick visit to Italy. My lovely cousins live in the north outside of Torino. My grandmother was born there and I just love it. This family is just amazing. They are wonderful and we are so thankful for their generous hospitality. And let me just say the dinners were – Mamma Mia! Delicious! I will have to ask them for permission before I post any family photos. I don’t have photos of the area from this visit. But I do have some lovely photos of Torino and the surrounding area from my last visit. I will share those soon.
We left Torino by high speed train and arrived in Florence. We were meeting the awesome group of students and teachers from Manvel High School. We were waiting for their bus to arrive and noticed how flooded the Arno river had become. It is normally not that high. There had been so much rain in the north that week. I loved the way the old buildings were reflected in the river. As soon as the bus unloaded – we were off – armed with our umbrellas and cameras. The agenda was fast paced – a tour of the points of interest – the Duomo, the Uffizi and more. I had not visited the Uffizi in many years and it is just as wonderful as I remembered. Botticelli’s The Birth of Venice and Primavera still take my breath away. There is so much to see and it cannot be missed when you visit Florence. We toured other spots of the old city – Ponte Vecchio, Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral (4th biggest church in the world) the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum ,the Galleria dell’Accademia (where you can see Michelangelo’s David) and Santa Croce Basilica. We also visited a leather factory and of course – we hit the markets and spent many euros!
I have to tell you that for the first time, after exploring the Duomo (Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral), I did something I had not done on my previous visits to Florence. I climbed the 463 stairs up and down to the top of the dome! My son really wanted to do it and we thought – why not. I was not quite prepared for the experience. You see, what I did not anticipate is the claustrophobic feeling in the “stair passages”. I felt like I was in a tomb! The stairs were steep and sometimes became a never ending spiral. I could not go back down – until I went up. And it went up and up and up! We saw the paintings on the inside of the dome and continued to climb. Once we reached the top – the view was amazing. I really think many of the amazing artists must have seen Florence this way based on the views I have seen in some paintings. I was still quite panicked from the tiny stairway and I must say I nearly ran down the stairs. I told my husband and son I would see them at the bottom because I was going to get down as fast as possible.
And one more thing….while we were there Italy was celebrating it’s 150 year anniversary as a country. All of the cities were decorated with Italian flags and had many events planned for the special day. Click below to see a slide show with a few photos from Florence.