This morning we drove from Venice to Florence. With the Italian Alps in the distance, we passed vineyards, fields of sunflowers, and Tuscan farmhouses. We had free time in Florence before our tours, and we headed down side streets looking for a Trattoria with the local specialty: cinghiale, or wild boar. We found it, and I was happy. Three days here, and I have yet to have pizza. On one of the bridges Gus got harrassed by a man “giving out” bracelets. Gus was just trying to be polite and shake the man’s hand when he engaged him in conversation. It escalated, and the man grabbed his wrist and put the bracelet on. I let Gus handle it, but it was heartbreaking to see Gus raise his hands in surrender as if he were being threatened by a gun. Gus was very upset thinking he’d been targeted for being weak. I told him it wasn’t that he was weak, it was that he was not yet jaded and too nice. Unfortunately that is exactly what this man achieved. Now Gus will think twice before he smiles at strangers and suspect everyone has an agenda. And I hate that. I want Gus to be kind but not be taken advantage of. It was a teaching moment for sure.
After a moderate jog through Florence, as we were running late on meeting our group, we joined our tour guide at the Accademia. They had a wonderful exhibit of historical musical instruments, including some of the very first pianos made for the Medicis. It was a hit with the symphony group. Even after 4 different visits, Michelangelo’s David never fails to impress. I learned a few new tidbits, too. Michelangelo was the only sculptor to work without a plaster model, and the block of marble was rejected by 2 previous artists who considered it too fragile. Michelangelo was nothing if not confident. After that, we walked the city’s highlights including the Duomo (no time to go to the top this time), to the Ponte Vecchio, and Santa Croce. It was a packed agenda, and I’m glad I’ve had the chance to see many of these highlights with more time, as well as other noteworthy sites in the city. It was a hot day, and we were tired and thirsty by the end of the tour. Dinner was at a restaurant near Santa Croce, which had some of the best gelato I have ever had. I opted for the Strawberry and Hazlenut combination, and it was a wise move. We are back and the hotel relaxing for another fun day tomorrow: Lucca and Pisa with a concert in a lovely church tomorrow night. I’m excited because I’ve never been to Lucca, and the concerts are always amazing, but I feel the venue will inspire a new level of artistry.