off of the bus into the town square area, we went on foot to continue the trek to the top
of the mountain. The path was a well-traveled cobblestone road with a very high
grade. The perpendicular walkway made it hard to go quickly and many stopped to
catch their breath. At the top of the hill though, was a stone wall that revealed an
absolutely beautiful view of the entire city of Florence. At this point, after many
"Ooh's and Aah's" and photographs, Prof. Megan Holmes, Ph.D. in Renaissance Art
History, introduced us to the basic geography of the city. Standing on a boulder,
she pointed out the most famous of the landmarks and summarized some of the Florentine
battles. We then continued up the hill.
The first church (of many) that we
visited was a small chapel at the Monastery of S. Francisco. We were able to walk
through the individual "cells" of the monks who lived there in the 15th
century. It truly was an amazing experience to see the way they lived. I tried
to imagine the monks, covered only by a thin layer of wool, barefoot, sleeping on the
simple wooden board in the dead of winter (the temperature of 3°C also made it a little
easier). The chapel was very simple, but the beautiful views of the surrounding
mountains made it easy to understand why they were there.
We "scaled" back down the mountain and visited the Etruscan ruins.
Standing there in the cold air under the warm sun, it felt unrealistic to think that the
views I saw were akin to what the location looked like in 50BC. We visited the baths
area and the Roman theater carved into the mountain. The sight was simply
There were some, however, who did not find the trip that spectacular and persisted to
complain about the waste of this marvelous day. These people clearly showed who they
were and did not make a great first impression. The chill of the wind on top of that
mountain made me realize that I truly was here and I cherished that day truly as one of
the most memorable of my life.