Since we had visited Rome prior to the cruise start we had seen most of the sights we had wanted everyone to see. We took a hop on hop off bus to see a few sights we hadn’t seen previously along with seeing several other sights that we had already experienced. The bus does a nice talk about each sight to provide some additional information that we may not have shared previously with our group. We did jump off the bus for a few hours had walked through the Trastevere area of Rome which contains many of the family restaurants and some small shops mostly for locals. We then grabbed a quick bite to eat and did a little shopping before heading back to the train station and the ship. No pictures are provided of Rome from this stop since we had provided Rome pictures in our first blog of this cruise.
Our next stop was Livorno where we had planned to take a train to Florence. When we departed the ship we changed our plan to take a taxi that could easily fit all 8 of us. This turned out to be a great decision since it allowed us to spend more time in Florence and see some other sights. On our way to Florence we stopped at one of the grape vineyards in Tuscan where we took several pictures and admired the views of the countryside. We arrived in Florence very early and had a chance to start seeing some of the sights before the crowds started getting too large. We grabbed a cappuccino and a pastry also to begin enjoying some of the great food this city has to offer. We went inside the Duomo after taking pictures from the outside from almost every angle. The painting on the inside of the cupola is very impressive and so are the stain glass windows that are on each wall. We then walked towards the Vecchio Bridge but visited the Statue of David and many of the other famous statues along the way. After walking across the bridge and taking a few pictures, we walked along the river enjoying the views. We made our way to the church of Santa Croce which is the final resting place for Michangelo, Dante, Galileo and many other famous artists, scientists and Italian leaders. Many of the churches in Florence have a unique outside appearance of marble with light pastel red and green coloring that is not something seen in most other cities of Europe. Along the way to and from these sights we sampled many food items and did more shopping than any other city we had visited. Instead of staying a little longer in Florence we made an impromptu decision to visit the leaning tower of Pisa on our way back to the ship. This wasn’t far out of the way and we knew our group would enjoy seeing this really unique sight. The weather was perfect and we got some really great photos. When we got back to the ship we said goodbye to Italy as we departed the port.
Our last stop before getting off in Barcelona was Toulon France. This was our least anticipated stop on this cruise itinerary but it was nice to at least make one stop in France during the cruise. After arriving in the city on a local water bus, we walked down to one of the main streets where there is a daily open market place set up along the wide pedestrian only street. We did a little shopping and tried a few pastries as we walked around. Instead of walking around the town to see the few sights worth seeing we decided to take the little train that rides around the city and provides a narrative of what you are seeing. We were able to see one of the local beaches with people surfing on some of the waves, along with some other sights we had not previously seen. When the train ride was over we walked inside the town to see a few other sights that we thought the group might enjoy: opera house and sculpture of the bow of a 17th century royal ship. We took the water bus back to the ship and now are heading off for Barcelona where we depart the ship tomorrow morning and spend two days in Barcelona.
Greg & Sharon