Ciao Firenze!

Today we checked out of Hotel Sempione in Milan and drove four hours south on the Autostrada to our hotel in Florence, Il Guelfo Bianco. The drive through Italy’s food valley was gorgeous, filled with views of hillside villages and farmland.

Florence is a much smaller city than Milan with only 383,000 city residents compared to Milan’s 1.4 million. Florence is also a much older city, with small and narrow streets and no modern buildings in sight. Everything seems to be as it was in Renaissance times, and it mainly is.

After checking into the hotel, we visited the Uffizi Gallery. The gallery occupies the former family offices of the Medici family, who ruled Florence for about 300 years from the 1400s through the 1700s. They were a banking family who acquired their initial wealth in the textiles trade and went on to become the largest bank in Europe as well as the richest family in Europe during their peak in the 1500s when they gained royal status. The Medici, during their time of rule, sponsored a vast number of works of art and helped to fuel the Renaissance movement as a whole. Learning their story and also the significance of various paintings in the story of Florence and the Renaissance was extremely interesting.

After the gallery, we came back to the hotel to rest before having a group dinner. We had pasta with bolognese sauce, veal, sausage, and french fries. Tomorrow we will visit the Florentine Leather School as well as the Gucci Garden and the Galileo Museum. Stay posted!

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