Our first full day in Florence, and the meds that Susan got from the doctor seem to be working. So, we started the day with a beautiful continental breakfast atop the hotel. Greeted with a gorgeous morning view of the center of Florence, we fortified ourselves and then headed out to see the sights.

First stop was the Galleria dell 'Accademia which is famous for its original statue of David by Michelangelo. The wonderful story we overheard was that this particular slab of marble was on the junk heap when the Maestro declared, “That one! I must have that one!” (Well, maybe, maybe not…at any rate, he requested the garbaged stone because he could see the entire statue just waiting for him to reveal it in all its glory!

And behold!!!

Along with this incredible art, to my surprise we saw some pieces not yet developed and just waiting to step from the stone that held them prisoner…but how beautiful just as they were!

Naturally…this was my favorite! Atlas on his way to shouldering the world!

Next, we walked five minutes to the Baptistry of Il Duomo...with the marvelous bronzed carvings on the

We saw the artistic Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore replete with green marble

And finally to the Ufizzi, considered one of Italy's greatest museums, with rooms upon rooms of pre & post Renaissance art…

Back to the hotel by 11:30AM so Susan could lie down and renew her energy. While I will go out for a beer at one of the wonderful sidewalk cafes! Ciao bambino!

That night, Duke brought a beautiful cheese tray accompanied by white and red wine to our room for an off the cuff picnic as I was not feeling well enough to go out. With music and the twinkling lights of Florence, we shared a very special night…one we might have missed had I not been feeling poorly.

On this entire trip, the people we have encountered, gotten directions from, and shared some very confused looks, could not have been sweeter, kinder or more caring, oh and lest I forget, patient...Until one afternoon in Firenze!

We crossed the street from our hotel to find a nearby café where the patrons were enjoying the air along with their delicious repast. When our harried server met us at the entrance, she signaled a table at the back. However, Duke had a different request. “Perfavore...a table up front on the tiny palazzo?” She stink-eyed this tall, distinguished replica of Poseidon, Ben Hur…God? rolled her tired eyes, lifted her shoulder in a true Italian shrug and said with a deep sigh, "Va bene," which I can only surmise is Roman for WTF, Fine....WHATEVER!!! or in the words of Vizzini from the Princess Bride, "Oh, have it YOUR way!"

We graciously took our front seat table and enjoyed our lunch anyway!

Now back to a previous picture…remember this one?

That is the picturesque square of San Christo

Google was just as confused as we were in our sorry attempt to leave Florence…Duke, whose motto is…”If you’re on a one way street, going the wrong way…drive faster!”

Well, we ended up in this beautiful, quiet little square with NO WAY OUT!!! (I think that was the name of a Costner movie.) But it’s true, we got in there but then we couldn’t turn around, back up or blow our nose! We were not on the wrong roderu…we were on NO roderu!

So, staying true to his motto, Duke stepped on it! Holy Non Streeta!!! We ended up off-roading! Between two buildings, a newspaper stand, two concrete pylons (meant to signal no thru way) Duke edged the car in, through, and around all of the aforementioned paraphernalia AND people! He literally forced an old Italian guy to move out of the way! The man had been leisurely perusing the front page of the daily newspaper (still in the stand, mind you...his attitude leaned towards, who wants to buy one when you can read the headlines free?) He was very put out to put it mildly, his daughter gave us the Italian High Sign, (I’m sure a gesture of good luck) and the old guy deigned to move aside. The few choice phrases di Italiani were indecipherable to us, however, we got the gist! Of course, mi Duca muttered back something involving the word bastardo! Wove his way BACK on a REAL street and…

We wound our way not unlike a plate of spaghetti out of Firenze! Take no prisoners!!!

I had wanted to get a picture of the Villa Cora for my mom, a place that holds special memories for her. However, google maps was going crazy! Duke kept asking left or right, I’m trying to understand the blue arrow when and lo and behold!!! All the cherubim and seraphim from heaven sang on high, a light shot down and Hallelujia! The Villa Cora was staring us right at us!!! Gracie mille mi dios! We parked, took a pic, and departed without a backward glance!

The Italian countryside looked just like every painting, picture, or move of Tuscany you've ever seen!

We were enchanted and with only one wrong turn, we made our way down a tiny, chalk white lane as the dust slowly settled over Lui. But the first look at our Villa was everything we could have hoped for...Scenic, quaint...paint it what you will...it was magnifico!

Welcome to "La Torre Antica"

Our guests; Andrea and Veronica, speak sparse English, and our limited Italian makes their English seem fluent! However! Andrea being French, Mi Duca dusted off his tres Francais linguistic prowess and parlez vous'd his way to their little patio accompanied by a bottle of vino rosso y un'altra bottiglia di vino bianco. What a way to settle in!

Andrea’s daughter, Veronica, was kind enough to let us use her washer and we did several loads of very sweaty laundry. No dryer though, so I improvised…

But How Lovely!

After we had rested a bit, we unpacked and headed to the local village for lunch. A bar, a bottle of biologic vin rosso, 2 wonderful sandwiches (prosciutto con pan for Duca & tomatoes fromaggio and olive oil on pancetta for me!) Delicious! We sat out beneath the BAR sign and listened to the local gossip, none of which we understood, but it sounded grand!

As we savored the wonderful Italian lunch, a local lady came sashaying up the hill. Dressed to kill; high heels clicking, loose blouse blowing in the breeze (accentuating the fact that she was without under garments), gold earrings dangling…the gossip stopped immediately! With bated breath (need a pin to drop anyone?) the entire patio waited…It wasn’t until, order in hand, hips swaying seductively and the last sight of her voluptuous curves disappeared down the hill that the talking resumed at high speed…Ah Italia, always time to admire the scenery!!!

Back on Andrea’s patio, we finished the last of our wine as Ottmar Liebert’s flamenco guitar played softly from our Trek. An al fresco dinner, presented by our hosts...8 p.m. sharp…will bring a close to this idyllic day.

Our first full day in Florence, and the meds that Susan got from the doctor seem to be working. So, we started the day with a beautiful continental breakfast atop the hotel.