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It only took us a moment in Florence to realize there was something different about this city. We had already visited Rome (very political feel to the air… go figure), Potenza (a little village with limited tourism), Ancona (a port on the Adriatic Sea). But something was hanging on the air in Florence. Something magical. Florence oozed sensuality. It’s romantic air floated through the breeze intoxicating you as soon as it made contact.

The people of Florence were different from anywhere else we had visited so far. Locals had been nice ever where we had gone, but in Florence they treated us like family. Everyone had a story to tell, nothing moved too quickly, and the food… ahhh the food. I’m already getting ahead of myself.

Since we had managed to get lost in each town we came too, I had a new idea to tackle Florence with…. as soon as we hit the outskirts of town we pulled into a hotel and called for a cab. I gave the cab driver the address for the hotel, and we followed behind the cabbie in our SUV. Sure this form of GPS cost me 20 Euro and nearly our lives on several occasions (as I darted back and forth to follow the car in front of me)….but it only took us 30 minutes to get to our hotel versus 3 hours of chasing our tails down one way streets.

Let me momentarily touch on the driving again (as if I haven’t beaten the driving in Italy horse enough)… we are talking about 3 lanes of traffic going one way…and in those 3 lanes… are 5-7 cars… side by side… yes sharing lanes… now add 6,000 scooters swerving between those cars… cars parked 2 sometimes 3 wide on the curb… and once your heart starts beating again… chase a CAB.

We were so thrilled to be at our hotel early that we hardly knew what to do with ourselves. We decided to talk a walk downtown. If you are ever in this area with a wheelchair, make sure that it is a chair with very durable, big tires… all the roads are cobblestone and very difficult for wheelchair pushing.Which I must admit, I was really glad my mom was there to push my grandmother, because I couldn’t seem to remove my camera from my face. Everything was stunning. We walked the market streets, we sat in Piazza’s and had coffee, I had banana Gelato in a freshly made waffle cone, then we saw it…

The Duomo cathedral that had been started in 1296 rose to the heavens as if it owned the world. This cathedral took over 150 years to complete… and even now is constantly being worked on. I couldn’t help but wonder about the people who had stood in front of this cathedral…helped build it, tried to destroy it, been married in it… and it goes on.

As we went on we also encountered the Hard Rock Cafe… which had only been standing for a moment, but was enticing none the less. We had been gone for nearly 5 days at this point, and sometimes Americana food… is just fantastic. Of course as any location does, there is always local flair to the cuisine. We also made a friend here. Our waiter was Arabic/Italian and moved all over the place. He worked solely to travel, and he quickly told us how his dream was to make it to Orlando. We were sitting in Florence Italy… chatting with a guy who had been all over Europe and Egypt… but whose dream was Orlando, Florida… I suppose grass is greener syndrome affects all. πŸ™‚

He recommended we catch a cab up to the look out called Piazzale Michelangelo to watch the sunset. Once we had finished our meal, we took his advice and made it up to one of the most beautiful places I have ever set foot. Our cab driver filled us in on all of the places we were looking at. We stood there staring… humbled to be in the presence of so much… artistic power. Michelangelo’s touch is all over the city. Leonardo Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa in a little building just off to this side of the Duomo… and as he points his finger… I find I am standing… in Florence, Italy… and I can’t help but smile.

Here is the rest of Florence in pictures.