We are enjoying being Catholics in Italy. We started the day hoping to see the inside of the Duomo- Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, but the imposing line to enter the church scared us away. Instead we chose the Baptistery, where Catholic Mass was being held and thus the church was only open to those attending Mass. What a perfect opportunity to attend mass…in we went with a tiny handful of attendees. It was a beautiful experience. Of course the mass was all said in Italian, but catholic liturgy is same all over the globe so Maleka and I felt right at home. Receiving communion in such a structure was profound. The Baptistery is well know of the outside doors done by Ghiberti telling the stories of the old testament..”the gates of paradise”. The inside structure is equally inspiring. The interior dome is decorated with a 13th century gold mosaic of a giant figure of Christ with images of death and resurrection…..the meaning of a Christian baptism. After this we crossed the Arno to visit the Pitti Palace and the Boboli gardens. The gardens are a beautiful maze of paths, ponds, views, fountains and fruit trees all blended into an aggressive hillside hike. We were offered vistas on one side of the entire city of Firenze from a birds eye view and on the opposite side of Tuscan hills with Villas and olive groves. It was the perfect way to say good bye to Firenze. Now off to Roma. Buona Notte. Anahid

Another beautiful day in Firenze. We began our day at the Basilica of Santa Croce, a Franciscan Church. The allegorical frescoes by Giotto, glorious Gothic style architecture, paintings, chapels and sculptures in this structure delivered the messages of the Franciscan friars from 1294 when church was first built to today. The basilica was modified many times over the centuries reflecting a balance of power among rulers of the land, power of the church and the Franciscan’s message as followers of Christ. The church was built with the patronage of Florentine families, who’s large financial donations earned them the privilege of being buried under the church floor. As a result the floor is covered with flat tombstone style markings. In addition all of Firenze’s most famous citizens have sarcophagi in this structure including : Dante, Michelangelo, Galileo, Rossini etc.etc. Hard to belleve so much genius can all come out of one small place. Must be in the water here (I am trying to drink tons, but so far it is not working). The Basilica also included the Pazzi chapel designed by Brunellesci and a Convent with long expanses of loggia. The Basilica’s organ includes 7,000 pipes, one of the largest in all of Europe. I could go on and on but best to sum up and say this church was another perfect example of Florentine’s love for the beauty of Art and Worship over the centuries. Next major location of the day was the Uffici gallery, a one time home of the Medici family. The mesmerizing and etherial paintings of Botticelli and serenity of Filippo Lippi’s Madonna’s make me want to sport wings and float away. But alas, no time for floating as we still need to view the Duomo, Baptistery, and the Boboli gardens. A domain, Anahid

We began our time in Firenze with a fortuitous stumble on the recitation of the rosary in the Chiesa of San Salvatore di Ognassanti. As we entered the beautiful structure just expecting to observe the art, we heard the melodic voices of the Nuns chanting the rosary. We stayed for a few minutes of reflection. This religious note set the tempo for our first day tour. Visiting the Basilica di Santa Maria Novella we listened to the audio tour and received the most amazing crash course on the Renaissance. After a casual lunch in the Mercato Central, we battled the lines to see Italy’s most favorite son……Michelangelo’s statue of David…an awe inspiring celebration of humanity. The day included a Tour of the Basilica di San Lorenzo and a nice respite for cappuccino, wine and sweets at Gilli’s on the Piazza Della Repubblica. Life is sweet……Ciao, Anahid