Friday, January 20, 2012

Day 17

Thursday the 19thof January

The day began early again and the coach drove us to a location close to the Galleria dell’ Accademia in the historical centre of the city to view the original statue of David, among other things. Here we met with our guide, an incredibly knowledgeable and bubbly lady named Francesca. She provided us with infinite details about all sorts of things, including numerous essential pieces of information, such as the technique of using horses’ urine to dye hair blonde in the 15th century. Blonde hair was in vogue and turned heads…..Not much has changed! Alas, there were no regular baths or showers and no Channel # 5 to disguise the odour!!

From here we proceeded to Il Duomo and La Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore and continued our walk to Piazza della Repubblica where we all took turns in rubbing the nose of the ‘cinghiale’- wild boar, which supposedly brings good luck (boy, do some of us need some of that!) and ensures a return to the city of Firenze. Piazza della Signoria was next, where some stunning sculptures stand, including a copy of ‘David’ and Perseus holding the slain head of Medusa. Can you imagine living in a city where you have sculptures and works of art at every turn?

Lunch came next, along with time to explore the city at our leisure.
Firenze is a small city in comparison to most; only 372,000 people live here. It also has 56 museums and 150 churches……sure you were all dying to know these statistics!
At around 3.00pm we returned to our coach at the designated spot and were driven to the best vantage point from which to have a splendid view of the city (Piazzale Michelangelo).  
One day in this beautiful city doesn’t really cut it, but hey, it’s better than nothing.

We entered Italy on the train when most of us were asleep and woke up in Milan. We thought it was cold until we reached Venice when temperatures reached -4. Our brief stay in Venice allowed us to eat on the Grand Canal and purchase Murano glass. The past two nights in Florence have been fun when we got to see Michelangelo’s David and The Duomo, the whole time eating pizza, pasta and gelati for lunch.                  
 Sean Maley

Tomorrow we head off to Vinci to see the Museum of Leonardo da Vinci’s works before arriving for overnight pit stop on the hilltop town of Assisi. This is before our last stop in Europe, Rome, in order to see the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Pompeii and Herculaneum. Italy is a beautiful country and an excellent way to cap off a truly memorable trip.

After a day’s shopping in Venice some of the troupe were keen to don their masks in true Carnival style. Can you guess who is behind each mask?

Transport on the canals of Venice is quite unique with water buses (vaporetti) and water taxis taking locals and tourists to their destinations. Here we are lining up on the Giudecca Island (where our hostel was located) to catch our taxi back to the coach, which was waiting to cross the bridge to Mestre on the mainland. Loading our luggage onto the water taxi was a precarious task for Mr Scritchley to perform ably assisted by some of our boys. The final leg of this exercise was to transfer from the wharf to our bus through the thick fog.

At the Ducati factory in Bologna Jim found his dream Superbike and Mingi also admired a fabulous motorbike in their museum.

Along the way we had pit stops at the Autogrills and Zac certainly stocked up well with snacks and drinks for the next leg of the journey.

The boys were so disappointed at not having enough time at Pisa to climb the Leaning Tower. They wanted to boast that they had climbed both the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Leaning Tower in Pisa, but time did not permit this as we had to move on to Florence where we were staying the night.

At Piazzale Michelangelo overlooking Florence, Daniel strikes up a pose similar to that of David, while Ms Vial enjoys the view towards the famous Ponte Vecchio along with Mingi, Phillip and Kyle.

At the end of the day Mr Scritchley is looking a bit frazzled - is there any wonder why?  Hang on in there - only one more week to go!

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