Rick Steves Best Of Europe

September 28th - October 11th, 2009

Welcome to Florence

Florence & Tuscany, Italy

October 7th - 8th

Florence is a decadent city rich with art, food and gold. Spending the day in Florence left us feeling like we were in the center of Italy surrounded by all things amazing. We were particularly excited to meet David, finally, and could not believe what an impression he made on us. Finally seeing a piece of artwork that you have read about in text books is an unreal feeling. Finally seeing David was completely overwhelming. His presence is something that can never be captured on the page of a book, easily making him the highlight of our day in Florence.

Below: Statues in Florence, Ponte Vecchio bridge, gelato, one of many Davids in Florence.

I’ve Got a Golden Ticket

Many travel to Florence in hopes of finding gold. We think it’s safe to say you’d have a hard time NOT finding any! There is gold galore, shops and markets around every corner. We hadn’t come to Florence in search of its precious metal, so we spent the afternoon wandering the streets seeing what other treats Florence had in store for us. Delicious pasta, scrumptious gelato, stunning sculptures, vast churches and ritzy shopping, all right in the middle of town.

Below: The Duomo, Kevin walking over the Ponte Vecchio bridge, looking across the river to the Accademia di Belle Arti (the home of the real David), sculpture in the Palazzo Vecchio, Fern and Russ enjoying their tour

Hello Again, David

As our day went on we noticed a theme in Florence. Other than gold, gold, gold, we were surprised to find not one, not two, but three life-sized sculptures of David! He was starting to feel as abundant as the gold and the vespas. Okay, maybe not that abundant, but we were definitely surprised when we kept running into him!

Below: A fountain in the Palazzo Vecchio, vespas galore, Kevin enjoying his treats and his amazing view of Florence, another David, locks on a fence (we never figured out what they were, but they looked interesting!), The Duomo

Where In The World?

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Agriturismo? Yes please!

As Ben navigated our coach down the narrow country roads we all had a feeling that there was something special in store for us, and we were right. Our agriturismo (working winery and hotel) was the perfect respite from our busy life on tour. The crystal blue swimming pool basking in the afternoon sun almost brought a tear to Nicole’s eye. Hello relaxation, we’ve been waiting for you!


Above: The swimming pool, the front of the agriturismo, some of the group resting pool-side, fruit that was growing on the property


Above: Betty and Alton sipping tea, Laurie and Daryl zipping across the playground, Susan enjoying a beer pool-side and Carol catching up on our guide book


Above: Kevin soaking his feet, Kevin zipping across the grounds, Daryl and Paul playing some volleyball

Mangia!

Both nights Tuscany we enjoyed dinner with the group at our hotel. It was our first authentic Italian feast. The freshness and quality were to die for and the food just kept coming and coming! And, as always, eating with the group was a blast. After dinner we unwound together with drinks at the bar and a song or two under the stars.


Above: The group at our dinner table, Nicole, Jenny, Kevin and Gloria enjoying drinks after dinner


Above: Kevin, Nicole and Rita, Lori playing her guitar under the stars, group at dinner, Kevin and Gloria, empty grappa glasses, George checking out the victrola at the bar