It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them.
They went out and happened to things.
~ Leonardo da Vinci
~Sarah S. - Rick Steves Guide Extraordinaire!
And just like that, the final full day of our tour was here. And it's a busy one, so let's get to it! We were off to meet our local guide Cindy at the Uffizi Gallery. One of the most famous art galleries in the world, it holds a collection of Renaissance masterpieces by the great artists Botticelli, Giotto, Cimabue, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raffaello among others. As I've said before, so much of what we experienced on this trip was simply mind-blowing, the Uffizi being no exception. The museum was not nearly as crowded as the Vatican museums, and as we'd come to expect, Cindy did a wonderful job as our local guide.
Artwork Highlights of the Uffizi Gallery
Our afternoon was on our own and we decided to walk up to the Piazzale Michelangelo to take in sweeping views of the city. It was a bit of a climb, but the spectacular views were worth it. We wanted to see as much of the city as we could on our last day, so we turned on power mode. Next stop was the Basilica of Santa Croce which happened to be Michelangelo's childhood church and also his burial place. Known as the Temple of the Italian Glories, it holds the tombs of some of the most historic Italian figures, including
Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Foscolo, Gentile and Rossini. Did you catch that last name? Again, my opera singer antennae went up. The history in this place is overwhelming.
Tony looked at me, I looked at him... GELATO? GELATO! Perche' No! We couldn't help it, we HAD to have that toasted sesame gelato once more. Funny story, when Sarah first took us to Perche' No! for gelato, we literally thought she was saying, "Let's stop for gelato. Why not?" We didn't realize that was actually the name of the gelateria! But what a perfect name! ha.
And here is where I need to take pause. It was time for our last group dinner. I was kicking and screaming. I didn't want to go. I didn't want to leave this place. After more than a week of firsts, I didn't want there to be a last. I didn't want this to be the end.
Dinner at Ristorante Giglio Rosso was a fabulous celebration of friendship and life. On the menu was ribolitta, pasta quattro formaggi, and Florentine steak seared tableside. The vino flowed as freely as the laughter, and dinner ended with delicious dolce and a choice of grappa or limoncello.
And then Sarah, with egging on from our sweet tour mate Becky, asked me to sing. And I don't know if it was the wine, or the limoncello, or the promise of an amazing memory, but I stood up and sang. I sang for my friends and well, for the whole restaurant. And my heart was happy, and full, and this would be enough until we can return to Italy.
The BEST tour group ever!
Front row: L to R: Bill, Becky, Barbara, Christine, Stephanie, Jodi, Carleen, Barbra - Back row: L to R: Amanda, Jim, Lisa, Gary, Tony, Michaela, Tom, Jill, Larry, Bob, Rachel, Lindsay, Sudi, Tracy, Pete, Tracy, Matthew, Walter, Sarah
And my heart was happy, and full, and this would be enough until we return.
Day 8 Photo Highlights
Time to say goodbye...