So, now what to do? We have our key back, the weather is good, but now Andree is essentially out of comission. She can barely hobble to the bathroom, let alone scale a peak. We are done hiking for now. period. That much is clear. So, what's there to do in this here country they call Italy? Fortunately for us, much that is rich in the way of history, landscape, and architecture. We decide on Florence - that heavenly city of the Renaissance, with its bold buildings and art. So, we pack up and we are off, down south out of the dolomites, across the Po valley and into the heart of Tuscany.
Campsite in Fiesole
Just to the north of Florence is a quaint hilltop community called Fiesole. It is here, after negotiating a madcap series of narrow, one-way roads, that we find the excellent Panoramica campground atop a hill. Although a bit pricey, the sites are nice, and there is an excellent view of the valley in which lies Florence.
Audio of church tower bells in Fiesole:
View of Florence from Fiesole
We set up and head off to the center of this hamlet for a bite. We are looking for something with which to help Andree along, and so we stop in at a Pharmacy and ask if they can help. What Andree comes out with is a genuine Italian old-person's cane. Andree doesn't care how it looks - it helps her leg out a lot. And the cane will be quite an interesting souvenir from this trip, I am sure. As an aside, Andree's leg, though almost useless at the moment, doesn't seem to exhibit any alarming signs: some examination reveals no unusual extra ranges of motion, and there is no swelling at all. These are positive signs, and there is hope that serious damage has been avoided.
View of downtown Florence
Typical downtown Florentine street
Typical downtown Florentine bar
We spend the next day exploring the city of Florence. We park the car on the outskirts of town and take the public transit in - it is very hard /expensive to park near the center of Florence, and the center of town itself is restricted to most traffic. The first stop is the magnificent Duomo. I am again awestruck by the detail of its facade, with intricate swirls of multicolor marble.
The interior is quite spartan compared to the exterior, but still nice. And we decide to climb the Church's Campanile (bell tower), which at 200 feet high is quite a climb. Designed by the artist Giotto, the tower is another masterpiece (like the Duomo itself) and features beautifully sculpted multicolored marble. Andree decides to come along, cane and all, and up we go. We are rewarded by magnificent close-up views of the Duomo itself and of all of Red-topped Florence.
Chapel and historic musical script.
Andree climbing the tower
Duomo closeup and city rooftops
Piazza directly below tower
Duomo, observation platform
After this, Markus starts again to suffer from tourist-itis/gouge-itis/fast-paced-itis. or whatever. And so we decide to split up, with he and Darryl going off to explore scenic viewpoints and such while Andree and I decide to do the art gallery thing. We end up at the famous Galleria degli Uffizi, where thousands of world-famous artworks are stored, including the infamous Birth of Venus by Boticelli. We rent the audio guide and manage only about half of the gallery before we have to rejoin Markus and Darryl.
Next we have a look around inside the Palazzo Vecchio, where one of the famous leaders of Florence lived (Cosimo, can't remember which number). This is a neat place, with older and newer sections intertwined, secret passages in the walls, and great art and architecture everywhere. Then finally, as evening nears, we are touristed-out, and after a bite to eat and a cyber-stop we make our way back to the bus station and catch a ride back to our car.
Statues in front of Palazzo Vecchio
Hidden Room, Palazzo Vecchio