Sharon Miceli is nearing the end of her Transatlantic crossing aboard the Crown Princess, and checks in from the last port of call - Florence. Sharon....
The occasional showers that accentuated our visit to Florence, home of the Italian Renaissance, could not dampen the enthusiasm of the throngs of tourists nor lessen their numbers. The timing of the thunder, however, as I entered the Duomo, did give me pause for just a moment but the tri-colored marble monument is still standing tonight so all is well!
The Tri-colored facade of Il DuomoI took the tour called "Florence on Your Own" which is actually a non-tour. It’s basically the 1.5-hour ride from the port to one of the famous piazzas in the heart of town. The bus company rep does, however, do an outstanding job of offering very useful information and going one-on-one with each passenger to answer specific questions.The Doors of ParadiseThere’s no better way to spend a 15-minute rain delay in Florence than with a rich, frothy cappuccino and a velvety, smooth chocolate-filled pastry under an umbrella at one of the ubiquitous outdoor cafes where you can watch the entire world pass by.Tasty TreatFor a city that is for the most part a pedestrian zone there are still a number of ways to get run over, by government vehicles, scooters, bicycles or flash floods of gawkers so do be careful.Piazza Santa CroceFor those who expect to visit only once and see the "greatest hits" in one day, make sure you make reservations online prior to your visit for the Academia, home of the original statue of David, and also for the Uffizi Gallery, or otherwise expect very long lines for entry.Lucky Warthog? It is said if you stroke his snout it brings good luckAgain, I chose to wander everywhere and off the beaten path, as well. But there is no bad decision you can make in this town that keeps it museum quality treasures outside for the whole world to enjoy. No matter what direction you choose, no matter where you look, there is something magnificent to contemplate.Quality Leather Goods at bargain pricesShopping is a dream for every sized wallet. Many world-class designers call Florence home but for those of us with smaller budgets, the bargains on diamond cut gold and buttery soft leather jackets, boots and purses can make you swoon.Yet Another Tasty TreatThe smell of the leather may be intoxicating but the toasty sweet aroma of freshly pressed sugar cones instantly draws attention to the gelato shops and their colorful displays of the intensely flavored frozen treats.One of the many lively piazzasThis one precious day in port was only a tease for me. I now see that I need to return to Tuscany for I feel an irresistible pull from the surrounding hill towns and the peaceful, verdant lifestyle there. I want to return to Florence when I can wander the medieval piazzas at daybreak. I want to watch the sleeping city as it gently wakes and share a coffee with the many masterpieces before the ensuing swarms of enthusiasts like myself invade the narrow streets.And now the Crown Princess is whisking us off to Rome and the end of this marvelous voyage. I know I could take this ride again! What about you?
Thanks, Sharon! Looks like you're having a fabulous time!