THE BEAUTY OF FLORENCE, ITALY
Before dinner last evening we had a drink at the Crystal Cove. Anne Marie had wine and Keith tried one of the new drinks that are now being offered. It is called Rose & Cucumber Gin & Tonic in a glass that is similar to what one might have Sangria in. These gin drinks are quite in vogue. Max came around from time to time with Canapés. While we don't have any of them we alway s enjoy seeing what is being offered. We have known Max for so many years and he is like family to us. A wonderful person.
Dinner menus from last evening at the Crystal Dining Room.
We had a fabulous meal. We began with Caviar for Keith and Ragout of Wild Mushrooms for Anne Marie, Tuna Tartare for Keith and Spinach Salad for the two of us followed by fantastic cold water lobster which we each enjoyed. The food was delicious. The Spinach in the salad was very fresh and a reminder to us of how fresh and tasty local vegetables and fruit are in Italy. Anne Marie's Ragout was very tasty and Keith found the taste of the caviar to be great. The Lobster came to the table hot and it was cooked to perfection.
Once again we took our time as we enjoyed dinner and appreciate the time allocated between courses. The dining room was quite busy as this is a popular menu for the guests. There were some hosted officer tables.
Following dinner we attended the Captain's Welcome Reception and the Crystal Society Recognition Reception. There was a show which we did't make it to as we had an early tour planned for today.
We followed our regular routine in the morning. Keith worked out and we both walked together and this was followed by breakfast in the room.
Our first visit to Florence, Italy was in 2005 on board Crystal Serenity. We took a full day tour offered by Crystal Cruises. Since that time we have stopped at Livorno many times where we did other tours including our last visit when we toured Lucca and made a short stop at Pisa.
We wanted to return to Florence and booked a private tour with Crystal Cruises. When we got off the ship it felt like Alaska. It was cool and was very windy. In fact, when we returned to the port it was also very windy.
Our tour included a car, driver and licensed tour guide. Our drive to Florence took seventy five minutes due to traffic in a couple of areas. On a sad note, someone set fire outside of Pisa last evening knowing the winds would be very bad and the fire would spread. We saw the smoke and actually flames from afar. Our drivers mother lives very close and sent him a photo. He lives further away but still relatively close about three miles from the fire. It was too windy for helicopters to get in but in the afternoon they did. On our return it looked better but with high winds in the forecast for this evening it could continue to be a bad situation.
Upon arrival we visited the Uffizi Gallery. This is a major gallery in the historic centre of Florence. It is considered one of the most important museums in Italy. This is one of the areas that our tour guide excelled. Her education and experience is in art. She guided us through the gallery carefully stopping in the key areas where she took the time to explain each piece of art and the meaning of it and pointed out so many details.
After our visit, we walked through and visited Ponte Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria, Piazza della Repubblica, Patristry and Duomo.
We enjoyed a wonderful lunch at the Hotel Excelsior at Sesto on Arno. A major highlight was the stunning views and the food, and service were top notch.
Following lunch we drove to the Academy Fine Arts. Once again our tour guide explained so much to us making the visit very educational and interesting.
We stopped at a few additional places before it was time for the drive back to Livorno and to Crystal Serenity.
This was a fantastic tour with an exceptional tour guide and driver and we will remember this tour for the rest of our lives.
Photos are mainly in reverse order.
We had a terrific day. Florence is amazing and one could spend several days here. We are going to return to Italy and do some type of land trip and attach it to a pre or post cruise.
Anne Marie & Keith