Sunday, October 7, 2007


We spent much of today in Florence. Luigi Massimilla, a friend through work, picked us up at the dock in Livorno and took us to Florence - just over an hour drive from the coast.

In Florence, we visited much of the old city historical area. This included most of the best known statues, the cathedral and some of the most popular piazzas (public squares) in Florence. I won't list them specifically by name because I don't remember their names, don't have the info sheets handy, it's dark because it is the middle of the night - take your pick.

Once again, quite a bit of walking was involved. When Jill got too tired, Luigi suggested that we hire a horse-drawn carriage to see old Florence in the way it might be seen in the 14th and 15th centuries - by horse. This was a great idea. On an hour-long carriage ride, we saw virtually the entire old town area.

After the carriage ride, we ate lunch in the area at one of the most recommended restaurants - Ristorante Toto. Our lunch was great. We all shared potato-filled ravioli with an excellent meat sauce. And, Luigi and I shared a local Florentine-style steak - again, I don't remember the exact local name of the steak but it sure was good! Both the ravioli and the steak were excellent - but there was so much food! Luigi and I finished off the meal with esspresso.

Having walked all we could again today, Luigi drove us to Leonardo da Vinci Square/Place/or something like that. It was high on a hill and overlooked the entire city - photos are attached. This location offered perhaps the most stunning view of what I consider to be one of the most visually beautiful cities we have visited. In the photos, you can see the Duomo, the Cathedral dome, the bell tower and river. Oh, and you can see Luigi in his Indiana Pacers T-shirt!

After the hour-long drive back to the ship, we thanked Luigi for a great day. He suggested that we come back to Tuscany - but stay a couple weeks rather than one day by cruise ship. Might not be a bad idea. There seems to be a lot we could see from one central location.

One note about our evening - the ship's entertainment group of singers & dancers is one of the best we have seen in quite a while. Tonight they did a show of various well-known songs from countries around the world. Quite frankly, we have gotten to the point where many of the ship's group shows are an OK time-filler activity. But, this show was the most professional and entertaining in a while.

Tonight we sail for Monte Carlo where we have an excursion scheduled to visit Nice. Never been there and have no idea what to expect. Hopefully, we can limit our walking - we really need a bit of a break but we don't have our string of desirable days at sea for a while.

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