Florence, Day 7 Italy

We had an excellent buffet breakfast at our hotel. The breakfast room was bright and cheerful with tall French doors opening out onto the Tuscan scenery. The buffet included croissants, plain and with many types of fillings, rolls, meats, cheeses, yogurt, 5 kinds of cold cereal, a fresh fruit cocktail, fresh fruit, and huge, sweet stewed prunes that were honestly the size of peaches. And of course, coffee, teas, juices, milk. The tables had nice, crisp linens.

We signed up for The Original Walking Tour of Florence which covered the famous sites of Florence’s ancient center. We learned a lot over the 3 hours and I especially want to do some more study of Ghirlandaio.

In the afternoon we hiked to the Church of San Miniato al Monte. My cousin Bobby had told me this was probably his favorite church anywhere. It is quite a ways out of the ancient center. We walked over Ponte Vecchio bridge which crosses the Arno and continued west along the river, then climbed uphill.

The church was built between 1018 and 1207 and sits high atop a hill with stunning views of Florence. The facade was built of beautiful Carrarra marble and green Prato marble and is neat, tidy, and charming. The inside is full of multi-colored marble and mosaic floors with decorated beams above. While there is much attention to small detail, these do not overwhelm the visitor but work together to produce a serene atmosphere.

An unexpected and incredibly special treat was that the Benedictine monks who live there sing Gregorian chants every afternoon at 5:30, and we were privileged to be there for this time of vespers.

The sun was setting as we headed down the hill and it was dark by the time we reached the Arno. We stopped in a lovely shop where I saw some blue and white plates, always a magnet, and the lady there recommended Mamma Gina’s Restaurant on this same south side of the bridge. It was packed, but we were able to get in. I had a politically incorrect, but oh-so-delicious dinner: Scallopine alla Toscana (tender veal scallopini with artichoke hearts and capers in a light white wine sauce). Bill had something that he enjoyed a lot…….Trippa Florentina….that’s tripe with a tomato herb sauce. I didn’t ask for a sample taste!

As we crossed back over the Ponte Vecchio we enjoyed the ambience of the musicians playing on both sides. And, as if we hadn’t eaten enough already, we stopped for some gelato to help us on our walk back to the hotel.

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