Anna in Italy: Day 7

Today was our last full day in Italy, and we spent it on another all-day guided tour in Tuscany.

Our first stop was at Oliviera Sant’Angelo, a small olive oil mill in Crete Senesi.  Olive season is from October to early December, so unfortunately we couldn’t see the machines in action.  Instead, we got a walk-through of the building, and we had a chance to sample the various grades of olive oil that they produce.

Next, we visited Podere il Casale.  They are a small farm and restaurant that tries to be self-sufficient as much as possible.  This farm has a small herd of goats and sheep that they used to make cheese, including the Pecorino cheese that Tuscany is known for.  Lunch at the farm included a salad right from the garden, pasta made with wheat from their fields, and a sample of their cheeses.  It was all really delicious!

The last stop was in Pienza, a town in the mountains overlooking the farm.  Our tour guide grew up just outside this town, so he was pretty excited at getting to show us around!  Not only did we get to look around the town cathedral, but we also saw a palace owned by Pope Pius II.  We had some time to wander the streets before our guide dropped off back at our hotel.

Anna in Italy: Day 6

We were back in Florence today, this time for a walking tour of the city.

Our first stop was at the Gallery of the Academy of Florence.  This art museum is best known as the home of Michelangelo‘s David sculpture, but they also contain several of his unfinished sculptures and some other Renaissance paintings.  The David sculpture was initially constructed to sit in front one of the palaces in Florence, but it was relocated in 1873 and replaced with a replica.

Our second stop was a tour of the Florence Cathedral, called the “duomo” by the locals.  This cathedral was started in 1294, but it took until 1436 before somebody figured out how to build the giant dome.  Our tour group took a walk through the main floor, and the tour guide mostly focused on its construction, artwork, and use as a meeting place for non-religious events.

Our last stop was to the Uffizi, one of the largest art museums in the entire world.  Its collection includes paintings from artists such as Michelangelo, Botticelli, Raphael, and Leonardo da Vinci.  We walked through almost the entire art museum and learned some of the history of the various paintings and exhibits.

Here are some of my photos from throughout the tour: