Along with the rest of the world, we woke to the news of the horrific Bastille Day attack in Nice. Not only do we feel more vulnerable when we're so far away from home, but it's especially hard to be away from our families at a time like this. The sound of sirens is to be expected in any city, but now it makes us jump every time. The sirens here sound very different from police and ambulance sirens in the US. Maybe because we've only heard these specific sirens on the news in conjunction with a terrorist attack abroad, but we've been conditioned to think they mean real danger. We are on guard whenever we're in a crowded place, and the sight of heavily armed military police no longer instills fear, but sadly brings comfort and reassurance.
In spite of all that, we are determined to keep living life to the fullest and experiencing as much as we can, within reason. Many of you know that we were planning to go to Turkey to see Istanbul and Cappadocia. The recent Istanbul airport attack gave us pause, but the military coup attempt made our minds up for us. It breaks our heart, but visiting Turkey at a time like this would simply be too foolish. We can only hope that the region stabilizes enough to make a future trip possible for us and, most importantly, that its people find peace.
Now, back to Florence. This was our last full day in the city and we had a few more museums on our agenda. First, we visited the Basilica San Lorenzo and its crypt. It was nice but not terribly distinctive from the others we'd seen.
Then we visited the very beautiful Medici Chapels. The mosaic tile inlay in the floors and walls is so intricate and gorgeous. We were very lucky to visit when a small choral group was practicing right in the middle of the chapel, and their beautiful voices echoing off the stone walls made for a magical experience.
We then visited the Santa Maria Novella church.
Then we ate! Sarah started getting really cranky the day before because we'd been so busy seeing the sights the we didn't have much time to eat. And we're in Italy! So we went to Florence's Mercato Centrale for lunch. We grabbed paninis at the popular lunch spot, Nerone. The menu is handwritten entirely in Italian so we took our best guess as to what we were ordering and ended up with what appeared to be roast beef and turkey.
The sandwiches were really good but the most exciting thing about this lunch is that for a hot minute, we thought Rick Steves was standing in line with us! We haven't mentioned it yet, but we're obsessed with Rick Steves. Some people follow The Grateful Dead; we follow Rick Steves. We watched probably 15 hours worth of his PBS travel videos as we were planning our trip. So many of the sights, restaurants, and accommodations we've chosen have been because of him. This guy looked just like him from the back and even had his backpack slung over his shoulder in Rick's same carefree manner. Alas, it wasn't Rick, but we are still on the lookout!
After lunch, we went to the Bargello statue museum and then to the Baptistery.
Then we had some midday gelato.
It was finally a good time to visit The Duomo, Florence's crown jewel. The line to enter The Duomo is usually pretty ridiculous, and since the cathedral was half a block from our apartment, we walked by the crazy line several times a day. The best time to visit is early in the morning or late in the afternoon, so we chose the latter.
Our last stop of the day was the Duomo Museum. Located behind the cathedral, it was recently renovated and is now a beautiful and underappreciated world-class museum. It describes the history of the creation of Florence's Duomo, the largest dome ever constructed at the time, and which has served as the inspiration for other domes throughout the world, including the one that crowns our very own US Capitol building. The museum also showcases some very important works of art, including Michaelangelo's last sculpture.
And the magnificent Gates of Paradise, which originally adorned the Baptistery.
And an intense view of The Duomo from the museum's top floor terrace.
We returned to our Acqua al 2, our restaurant from two nights earlier, for dinner. We know what we like! Fortunately, they also have restaurants in Washington D.C. and San Diego, though surely the atmosphere isn't the same.
One last stop by the Duomo.
Then, more gelato! 👍