Today was our Florence day. Thankfully Ted had done enough research ahead of time to realize that we were NOT allowed to drive into the downtown area--it is a very restricted zone, and we could see firsthand exactly why. Traffic is nuts there! We did locate a parking garage under the train station JUST inside the zone, but we figured that people coming in to take the train would surely be allowed to park there, right?! Well, we didn't have any troubles, and thankfully despite the awful traffic, we made it to the parking garage, where there was plenty of space for our GWB (Great White Behemoth, as the Suburban is affectionately known in our family).
Off we went on foot to find the Galileo Museum, which was our one and only scheduled stop for the day. It was a considerable but not unbearable walk. We spent a couple of hours or so puttering around this very cool, very educational museum, where there was something to capture just about everyone's interest. Having been in some amazing children's museums with many interactive features, we were a bit disappointed at the interactive offerings--there were two small rooms that allowed kids to check out some of the science behind some of the tools, instruments, and inventions we had seen on display during our meanderings, but really, given the kind of museum this was, there could have been SOOOO much more! In fact, hands-on, interactive displays in every room would have been extremely helpful for people like us...families with small children who can't read and older children who desperately want to touch all the cool-looking things!
Ah, well. We had fun. Here are a few pics...you can see the whole album here.
After the museum we were more than ready for lunch, so we hit up a little cafe right across the street for some pizza and panini. Then we walked back toward the parking garage by way of the Duomo (pictured just above this paragraph), which I had been told was worth walking by even if we didn't have time to go inside. Wow, was that an understatement! Our photos can't really do it justice...it is absolutely enormous and soooo beautiful on the outside. We had to save the inside for another day, but I'm glad we were able to walk past it at least.
We rewarded the kids for their perseverance in walking through the throngs of tourists in stifling heat by getting some yummy gelato...well, everyone except Lucan got gelato. Poor little guy conked out in the stroller and missed out! We were more than ready to get into our air-conditioned vehicle and head out of the city. It was about an hour and a half (maybe less) back to our hotel in Pisa. We enjoyed a wonderful sit-down dinner at the hotel restaurant and then crashed for a decent night of sleep before heading home the next day.
Original plan--touring in Florence during the morning, driving home after lunch. Well. After battling the traffic and the crowds the day before, we ALL agreed that Florence can WAIT!! We will return when the weather is cooler and hopefully there are fewer crowds! It was nice to simply pack up and head back toward Naples. We stopped at the Support Site to pick up Ted's car, which he had loaned to a new AF guy he had sponsored in shortly before we left for our vacation. Ted drove the kids home in the Suburban to begin unloading while I took the Alfa to the commissary to get enough food to last us a couple of days--we had wiped out our fridge, freezer, and pantry before our trip!
Home again, home again, jiggity jig.
We've had enough of this traveling gig...for now! What a blessing to be able to see and experience these things together, even if we DID have our fair share of bickering and complaining and difficulty sleeping! We thank the Lord for His many, many blessings, including keeping us safe during our 3,000+ miles on the road!