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Colleen said she had never been to this farm before on tour but she  would definitely be coming back!

September 21:

Between Cinque Terre and Florence, we made a stop at Castello del Trebbio for an olive oil tasting. It was a beautiful estate, located on what was once the lands of the Pazzi family, enemies of the Medici. We had an incredible talk about how olive oil is made and how to know if you are buying the good stuff.

We also had an extremely tasty lunch!

Excellent work Antonio!
Our bus driver Antonio took us the pretty way into Florence.
I was totally going to make Mom and Tim come up to this viewpoint. Guess we don't have to now!
Kisses at Castello del Trebbio with the Tuscan countryside
Wine at Castello del Trebbio
Tim's coworkers were bugging him for pictures so we sent this SFW one of the David.
Our second time seeing Michelangelo's David.
At the entrance of the historic Hotel Torre Guelfa

Tim and I had to run some errands, so we sent Mom out on the next group activity, a walking tour through the historic center of Florence. But we caught up with the group in time to enter the Accademia to see Michelangelo's David. It was spectacular the first time we saw it and equally spectacular the second time.

Truly a can't miss when it Florence!

A couple of Mom's pictures from the walking tour.

Now for what I think was the "WOW!" moment of our entire trip. Hotel Torre Guelfa has a private tower with a rooftop bar with an absolutely incredible view of the Duomo and the roofs of Florence. We were one of the last ones there since we had spent some extra time at the Accademia, but we made it just in time for sunset!

Our very fancy hotel room!
When you are running though the streets of Florence and you turn the corner and Bam! Cathedral!
The Accademia also has this neat instrument section.
Tim climbing the hotel tower
We were trying to get some more cute kissing pictures but the group was making us laugh too hard!
Photo courtesy of Colleen Murphy
Photo courtesty of Colleen Murphy

And now for Tim's favorite meal of the trip. As the sun set, Art and Colleen asked if we wanted to join them for dinner. We said "Of course!" Between the five of us, we figured we could tackle one of the Florentine steaks. These things are no joke.

That's 850 grams, or 1.9 pounds of meat. Tim was extremely pleased. Tim with steak photo courtesy of Colleen.

This is what less crowded at the Uffizi looks like. Still better than the Vatican or the Lourve.
There is also a lot of great statuary, but paintings are the real game here.
Look at all that bloody detail!
I love it!

September 22:

It's Uffizi Day! The I'm very excited because I get to see my favorite painting day! But seriously, I love the Uffizi. It's such an amazing collection and I love the way that it's laid out to give you a sense of how art changed before, during and after the Renaissance. When we were here on our honeymoon they were renovating and most of the collection was crammed into half the space, so seeing the full museum was pretty incredible. The group had 8:15 am tickets, but worth it to beat some of the crowds. We also had a pair of amazing tour guides to walk us through the collection!

The Italian Renaissance collection is of course second to none and contains some of the most recognizable pieces of art. All the masters are here: Duccio, Lippi, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Raphael, Titian.

Of course the Uffizi doesn't end with the Renaissance. They also have an excellent Baroque collection with some excellent Caravaggios. But my favorite painting is Judith Slaying Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi. She was a talented and well respected painter in the 1600s. I've seen both versions. I love it so much!

I need to find this gothic Madonna specificaly.
Found it!
Cherub Playing the Lute by Fiorentino of Volterra fame!
Galileo! More of him next!
Stopped for a quick lunch at
I Fratellini

Next, up we visitied the Galileo Museum, which was full of globes and scientific instruments like telescopes and microscopes. And they had Galileo's finger stored in a reliquary, like a saint of science!

Yes, it's his real finger.
Someone took it when he was being reburied.
Some closer shots of the Last Judgment frescos

We did the stair climb to Brunelleschi's Dome at Santa Maria del Fiore! Since we only day-tripped through Florence on the honeymoon, this was one of the goals for the return visit to Florence. Mom decided she couldn't do the stairs, so she went inside the cathedral instead. The climb was totally worth it! You get to see the frescos and the dome within a dome construction up close! And the views from the top were spectacular! We even saw our hotel tower!

Museo San Marco.
We are going there tomorrow!
An angle shot of Ghiberti's first doors where you can see how the details really pop out. 
Mom getting some close ups of the bell tower insets.

Almost all of the art on the outside of the Duomo are copies. The originals are housed inside the Opera del Duomo Museum. Fabulous displays, way less crowded. You can actually get up next to the bronze doors!

There are a ton of displays including models of the dome, church reliquaries, and reproduction panels you can touch!
There is also a rooftop terrace with an excellent view of Brunellleschi's Dome!
Mom caught us getting the photo to the left!
Display of the equipment used to build the dome.

Finished off the day with our final group meal. Gnocchi, ravioli, and penne pastas, followed by flambéed steak and our choice of dessert from the cart. The group spent time going over our favorite parts of the trip.

What a way to end the tour!

This is probably my favorite shot of  my mom from the tour!

September 23:

Sadly that was the end of the group tour. We had a ton of fun with everyone and will miss them all! We did climb the tower for a couple more shots in the morning sun. But our vacation's not done yet. We have one more day in Florence and a day trip to Venice before we go home! 

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