Sunday, June 10, 2012

Welcome to Florence!! Italy Part 3

Welcome to Florence!!
After leaving the fabulous city of Venice, we took the Eurail to Florence. I don't recall how long it took to get there, but it wasn't bad. We had a less than par lunch on the train and played 'Bullshit'...which I really suck at! I thought it was really pretty seeing the country side of Italy. I didn't take any pictures on the train, silly me...but I think I made up for it once we got to Florence.
When we arrived in Florence we took a van to our hotel which was on the river and so pretty. The hotel itself, was fine, nothing like the Duodo though. Pretty much a Holiday Inn in Florence. Once we got checked in, we walked around a bit and went to dinner at a restaurant that was recommended by the 'bellboy' who wasn't too friendly. We found Barrino, and it was a very cute, family restaurant. The food was really good, but they saw 'dumb Americans' and completely screwed us! They said they would give us a 'sampler appitizer', well that really turned out to be one of everything on their menu (appetizers), litterly!! And then we had our entrees, there was a huge shock when we got the bill, needless to say. So, don't go to Barrino if you go to Florence!
 I loved Venice because it was the most unique place I've ever been, I loved Florence because it was the oldest and most historic place I've ever been. I hope you enjoy!

Sunset over the river outside our hotel.
 Our Hotel
 We went on The Jewels Tour the next day...One of my favorite days!! It was an Exclusive Tour through Siena, Monteriggioni, San Gimignano, Pisa, and we had a Wine Tasting Lunch....INCREDIBLE...ALL of IT!!  Alessandro was our Tour Guide and he was phenomenal!!

Here is the description:
Be seduced by the eternal charm of the Tuscan art cities where the beauty of the monuments is linked with the rhythm of life that is still on a human scale and where every stone exudes centuries of history. Once in Siena, you will visit the famous Piazza del Campo, with its particular 'shell' shape. Here are the Palazzo Comunale flanked by the tall Tower del Mangia and where the famous horse race, 'Palio', takes place. You may use your free time to visit the splendid cathedral, a great expression of Middle Ages. From Siena, we will take a panoramic road and admire the vineyards and olive groves in the heart of the Chianti territory on our way to the ancient fortified hamlet of Monteriggioni, a small jewel built during the thirteenth century and embraced by its still intact walls. A short distance away, in a pleasant country estate surrounded by aromatic plants, you will be served a lunch of typical Chianti products and a guided tasting of a selection of fine Chianti and Vernaccia wines, managed with passion and expertise by the friendly owner of the farm. After lunch we leave the farm to reach San Gimignano, another beautiful town, listed as a Unesco world heritage site. Another departure, this time to reach Pisa that is waiting for us with the sparkling sight of Piazza dei Miracoli and the Leaning Tower.
It was incredible!!

So, I hope I get these pictures right according to where we were :)

We first traveled to Siena and if I remember right, each place we went to was like it's own little 'kingdom' some with a castle, but most with towers. According to Alessandro, when the Florentines took over, they would cut their towers in half to symbolize dominance. There's your little tib bit for the day!
A church in the area.

 One of the towers leading to the country side

 Think of the tower being double the height!

 One of the Basilica's (Church) in Sienna. So pretty!
 This is connected to the church, but it's part of a museum...we went up to the very top of that arch, so pretty!

 Inside the Church
 My favorite room in the church.
 This cute little woman, spoke no English, no clue what language she was speaking, but I believe she was telling me how beautiful the church was and telling me different parts of the marble floor was expensive pieces and not expensive pieces. It was really cute.
The Accordion Man, he was great!
This is in the museum part...

 Mike interpreted this to English and it said, 'Oklahoma State is going to kick OU's ass in football and be Big 12 Champs in 2011' Love my husband!!

 The Itty-Bitty stair way to the top of the tower...I don't think I'd be able to fit now, with my pregger belly...really, it was so tiny!!
 Still making our way to the top of this tower
 Jo and the Italian Statue Man doing 'Go Pokes!'
 Atop the highest point in Siena!! Beautiful and Breathtaking!

Making our way back to the Sienna square to meet Alessandro.

 Mike wanted to get a 'snack' and was going to get a piece of pizza...and this is what he came back with!! This is one of my favorite pictures of Mike!!

Okay, so there is part 1 of our Jewels Tour with Alessandro. More to come later!!

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