Italy is filled with artwork. Jam-packed, I'd even say. The subject matter, however, is a tad limited. Our first full day in Florence had us visiting the Uffizi gallery, home of major Renaissance and Gothic artwork. Most of the remaining time in Florence can be boiled down to shopping, pizza, gelato, more shopping, and some more gelato! We found THE awesomest gelato place in the world just across the street from our hotel called Grom. They'd be scooping you the flavor you ordered, but in the mean time (those 30 seconds can be a long wait, you know) try these two other amazing flavors. The hotel itself was good, but I'd stay there again in a heartbeat just to have easy access to that gelato!
We saw a really wonderful rendition of the La Boheme opera (think "Rent" but in Italian, with fewer trannies) in a gorgeous Anglican church. It was the abridged version, as there were only four singers, but being able to hear something so moving in a small crowd in the acoustics that only old churches seem to offer was a great experience.
Florence itself is really a lovely city, but everything seems to pale in comparison to Venice. (The churches are bigger, the shopping is better, the food is more varied, and the crowds are more crowd-y.) My dad & stepmom happened to be finishing up a cruise in Venice at the same time as we visited, so we spent about a day with them. They had arranged for a private tour of a few places, so we tagged along to see the Doge's Palace, St Mark's Cathedral, and a few smaller churches showing the progress from Gothic to Renaissance design around the city. Laura, the tour guide, was amazingly informative. Hank and I usually take the "wander around until we find something cool" tourism approach, but it's a bit lacking in background... having Laura give explanations was really important in a place with such a rich history (and a bit sordid, stealing a saint's body in a basket full of hams like that!). The interior mosaics of St Mark's were absolutely breathtaking - the place is massively huge and just glowing with all of the tiny gold mosaic tiles. Even having seen beautiful cathedrals before, seriously, I have no frame of reference to compare this with. It was simply amazing.
Speaking of hams... I've become an expert in prosciutto & melon. Man, it's tasty stuff, such a perfect balance of sweet and salty, yum.
I've asked Hank what all he has to say thus far about our travels, which he summed up as, "Food good. Feet bad." Amen.