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May 9th 2017
Published: June 1st 2017
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Waiting for our connection from Amsterdam to Florence
This blog and the days following is to chronicle a most amazing trip Ralf and I had with Alec to celebrate his recent college graduation. We flew into Florence and the next day embarked on a Self Guided hiking tour of Cinque Terre and surrounding villages. Words cannot really describe the beauty of this area so I will be including many pictures. For our first day, we stayed at a cute little hotel (Hotel Alessandra) in the downtown area of Florence. From there we walked around and saw many of the major attractions of Florence and also enjoyed an evening gondola tour capturing views of the city from the Arno River. By recommendation, we saw Michelango's David and the Duomo. Both were breathtaking. Of course we found a cozy little restaurant for our first dinner in Italy and enjoyed a feast of fresh meats and cheeses and homemade pasta, with a little wine on the side!

Tomorrow, we are headed through Tuscany by train to Sestri Levante (via Cinque Terre). This area is about 60 miles east of Geneo, Italy where several generations of farmers has shaped the mountain to meet their needs, building stonewalls to retain the land and
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The view from our window at Hotel Alessandra with the River Arno in the background.
creating terraces to grow vegetables, vineyards, and olive trees. The name Cique Terre literally means "Five lands, from the five small villages of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore, nestled above cliffs or into deep, hardly accessible coves, all facing the seafront with their colorful houses. Typical products of this area are extra virgin olive oil, anchovies and liqueurs. In addition to the villages of Cinque Terre, our tour is going to take us to other areas in the region such as Portovenere and Portofino with a home base for the week in the peaceful small town of Sestri Levante.


Additional photos below
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A famous clocktower right outside of our hotel window!
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Anchovies are a specialty of this region.
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Our first of many Italian pizzas!
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Michelangelo's David is considered to be a symbol of the city and is hoursed at the Galleria dell'Accademia.
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The Galleria dell'Accademia which houses David and many other prestigious works of art.
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Piazza Del Duomo
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Piazza Del Duomo
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Piazza Del Duomo
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The Baptistry whose doors are some of the greatest achievements of early Renaissance sculpture.
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Uffizi Gallery
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Gondola Ride on board the "barchetto" one of the only 4 original traditional wooden boats left in Florence. We had a great guide who gave us a nice overview of the history of the city from the River Arno.
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Our view from the gondola on the River Arno.
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Our view from the gondola on the River Arno.
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Ponte Vecchio was said to be the only bridge in the region that survived the bombing of WW2 as Hitler personally loved this bridge and ordered that it not be destroyed.
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Our view from the gondola on the River Arno.
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Our view from the gondola on the River Arno.


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