We left Venice by bus on Saturday morning and made a stop in Bologna, home of oldest university in Europe.
After that it was on to Florence. What a magical city! Our first stop was at a leather factory/shop, where we learned about the fine Italian leather tradition.
It was raining for most of our time in Florence, but we were undaunted and walked around to see a few sights as it got dark. We had a great meal together on Saturday evening close to our hotel.
On Sunday morning, we had a worship service on the top floor of our Florence hotel with the group we traveled with from Milwaukee Lutheran College. It was meaningful to sing and pray together at the beginning of this day so far from home in such a beautiful place so filled with history, beauty, and cultural importance. Later we had a walking tour with a local guide, who introduced us to the main sights we wanted to see. We saw the amazing Duomo and Baptistry, Michelangelo's David, the Ponte Vecchio, and lots more. Some of us visited the amazing Uffizi Gallery, and some climbed the Bell Tower.
On Sunday evening, we took a bus about an hour out into the Tuscan countryside for an authentic farmhouse dinner. It was amazing -- they showed us where they press their own olive oil and make their own wine. We had a delicious dinner in a fantastic rustic setting, which we all enjoyed very much.
On the way back to Florence, we stopped to see the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. Despite the rain, we enjoyed our brief visit.