Early Christian, Medieval Travel Journal-Day 12

Sunset at Villa San Michele

The day started sadly for Ann, who suffered a tragic loss, when her beloved No. 6 ranked, Texas A&M Aggies suffered a humiliating loss to the Appalachian State Mountaineers in the second game of the U.S. college football season. I told Ann it was an upset not unlike the Visigoths sack of Rome in 410 A.D. I don’t think I helped.

The drive back to Florence was uneventful, thanks be to God, and we successfully returned the car to the rental car garage in the city. I’ve driven in England, Scotland and France, and have even successfully navigated the most dangerous roundabout in the world encircling the Arch de Triumph in Paris, and I have to say that Florence is one of the worst driving experiences of my life.

The streets were not made for cars, there are one way streets that stop and start at places for no conceivable reason, and many of the streets are no wider than an alley. Add to this a swarm of people moving in all directions and crossing the street at unexpected places and you get a feel for what it is like. I vowed, going forward, to leave the driving to the professionals and the locals in Florence.

After dropping off the rental car in Florence we had lunch at a restaurant and then stopped at the Strozzi Palace. Filippo Strozzi the Elder was a successful merchant and rival to the Medici in Florence in the late 15th century (around the same time as Savonarola). Filippo died before finishing his palace, and upon his death, the Medici confiscated the palace and didn’t return it to Strozzi’s family for nearly thirty years. As I said before, the Medici (particularly Lorenzo, the so-called “Magnificent” and his son Piero) were not good people; I don’t care how much money they gave to artists. Even the two Medici who became Popes were apparently horrible.

16th century fresco by Nicodemo Ferrucci

In a nod to Savonarola, for our last full day of the tour The Wife booked us an overnight stay at 15th century Franciscan monastery converted into a hotel-the Villa San Michele. Villa San Michele is nestled in the hills of Fiesole above Florence. The hotel still has renaissance frescos on the walls from the sixteenth century. The view of the Duomo and Florence sprawled out below us in the valley was breathtaking.

We sat outside and watched the sun set behind the hills surrounding Florence, while enjoying a light dinner. There was not a lot of talking; we just tried to soak in the surroundings. GS

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