We had a professional tour guide this morning; Alexandra, originally from Alabama, received her Masters in Italian Literature, she wrote her thesis on Dante. She is married to a Florentine and loves sharing Florence's history. We walked for over 3 hours and were shown the best place to purchase fresh vegetables, where to find some incredible restaurants--high end and low, and how to distinguish which are the better gelato shops. I snapped pictures of pretty things and antique shops along the way. Always on the hunt for lovely old things.
We visited the little chapel dedicated to Beatrice (1266-1290), right around the corner from Dante Alighieri's (1265-1321) home. Dante met Beatrice when she was 8, he was 9. He fell in love with her, she hardly knew he existed. She grew up to marry a banker, but Dante loved and wrote about her: she was one of his guides in the Divine Comedy, Paradiso, and in the last four cantos of Purgatorio.
We went to the Piazza della Signoria, saw its sculpture garden, the 14th century Palazzo Vecchio, had lunch at the Mercado Centrale, gelato at one of the better gelato shops (I couldn't tell the difference from the gelato yesterday at one of the less desirable shops. I'll have to keep trying until I can distinguish the difference). We staggered back to our villa around 5. I don't know what everybody else did but I was cold and wet, so I closed the shutters on my windows, turned off the lights, climbed under the covers and fell into a heavy sleep for 2 hours. I emerged from my bedroom after hearing voices in the kitchen; Katy was chatting with Ivano. Within an hour or so, everyone else drifted in and we sat around the kitchen table talking and laughing until 11ish.
Some of us are meeting at 8:00 a.m. at the kitchen table tomorrow; we're going back to the Duomo to climb the 450 steps to view Florence from above. Then we'll have to climb back down 450 steps.
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