Today was another beautiful day in Florence. We started with a long, long, long...did I say long hike up to the Piazzale Michelangelo. The walk was worth it! The panoramic views of the city are breathtaking. I hope you think so too. Although I can tell you that a photo doesn't do it justice. While there, we visited the Basilica of San Miniato. Legend has it that St. Minias, an Armenian soldier who wished to testify to his faith in Christ, was killed by Roman soldiers of Emperor Decius by decapitation on the banks of the Arno river. The saint, nevertheless, gathered up his head and climbed up the hill where he was then buried. The church dates back to the 11th century and is considered by many Florentines as the "gate of heaven."
For lunch, we stopped in for a foccacia. It's the local verson of a sandwich using delicious homemade, warm bread. After the morning exercise, we decided that we deserved desert. Fortunately, we are here just in time for the Firenze Annual Gelato Festival. Gelato is part of the history of Florence. Buontalenti, a famous architect with a passion for cooking created the first fruit gelati for the ruling Medici family in the 16th century. It's not mass produced, but is considered artisinal or an art form. Today, there were many different vendors from around the world. Wonderful flavors like lemon, melon, mandarin, tahitian vanilla, and caramel. Also not so appetizing flavors like fig, avocado, and tuna. Yes, there is a Japanese gelato company at the festival. My favorite flavor was green apple. It tasted like a jolly rancher but with fresh apples! Bellisamo! The way the festival worked is that you purchased a card for 7 euros which got you 5 "samples." Their sample size was like a 1/2 cup! Three samples in and I couldn't eat another bite. Thankfully the festival continues tomorrow!