Day 11 - Thursday, June 21 - Venice - Bologna - Florence.
Say good-bye to Venice as we head to Bologna. We will enjoy free time in the Piazza Maggiore, where the oldest university in Europe is located. Continue to Florence for a first look at the birthplace of the Renaissance. We will arrive in time to shop in the many leather and gold shops. Dinner at the hotel. Overnight Florence.
Today we left Venice and headed for Bologna and Florence. When we arrived in Bologna, we walked to the Piazza Maggiore to view one of the oldest universities in Europe. There were some unusual fountains. Sometimes I wonder what they were thinking when they designed them. We had a quick snack. Many of us gave the Italian McDonald's a try. I can attest to the fact that the french fries taste the same. We met Dr. Byers' new found cousin there for a very brief visit then we motored off to Florence. The heat followed us to Florence and we began to feel that there would be no relief from the heat. We visited a some leather and gold shops. I felt sorry for our models who had to show us the leather coats. We had lunch and the trudged past the "purse sellers" back to the bus. Those who were selling the purses would place them on sheets so that they could make a quick getaway when the police would come by. You were not supposed to buy from them as you could be fined as well. We took off for Montecatini Terme and were all more than pleasantly surprised with the Hotel Astoria. It was so beautiful and the rooms were very large with big windows and shutters that opened onto lovely gardens. The best part was that the weather had to be a good 10 to 15 degrees cooler. We were treated like royalty by the staff. The hotel was privately owned by a family that had passed it down through four generations. Bravo!