You know that saying about not breaking in new shoes while traveling? I was stubborn. I thought my feet impervious to new leather. Then I opted for the architectural walking tour and walked all over Florence -- on cobbled streets, no less (beautiful to look at, painful to walk on).
First off, mad props to our tour guide, a chic Italian young lady named Alfreida who was an Art History student. I loved her accent and the way she spoke of the city and the sights and their creators with such love and admiration and understanding, claiming these places and people not simply as names or pieces to be memorized for a course of study, but as part of her history, her identity, her very self. It's always so rewarding to witness a person in their element, exuding their passion.
A day of spotty rain made the smell of leather all but permeate the city. It was a nice, organic smell as we walked by the San Lorenzo central market and across long rows of stalls selling belts, wallets, purses, and more. The cathedral itself is quite old; I snapped a neat shot of colorful bikes leaning against bricks that are hundreds of years old. We walked onwards towards the Dome and Cathedral, stopping to look at Giotto's reliefs of Bible stories on the Baptistery doors. Then to the Palazzio Vecchio, which is now City Hall. Past the old Palazzo di Medici, all the way up to the Piazzale Michelangelo, where you find that sweeping, panoramic view of the entire city. I waited patiently for the clouds to move so I could get a picture of the sun shining on the Dome.
Walked back to city center to meet the rest of the tour group, who had opted for the cooking class. We were met with heaping plates of bruschetta, risotto, a braised pork. And wine. (Yes, for lunch--we were on vacation!) I promptly sat down and slipped my shoes off, giving my poor, swollen feet a bit of respite. By the end of the trip the shoes were worn in. It was worth it, but I won't be repeating that on my next trip.
Speaking of architectural details: throughout the trip I took pictures of some doorknobs as I walked by residences, businesses, and other spaces. My travel mates began making fun of me for taking "strange" shots, but I trusted my vision. It came together quite nicely, if I do say so myself! I have one of doors and windows, too, which came together by chance. Thank you, Picasa, for making it fun and easy to create collages!