It was still drizzling in the morning as we looked out from our balcony and bid Venice farewell. We got on the vaporetto with our luggage and arrived at the train station with no problem. Having purchased our tickets online ahead of time, and had them "snail-mailed" to us at home, we could go right in and find the track our train was on. It was a high-speed Eurostar train, electric, smooth and quiet. We had assigned seats across from a delightful young Brazilian couple from Sao Paolo (he works for EDS, part of Hewlett-Packard!) who were very enjoyable and met another older couple from California across the aisle. The ride to Florence (free wine served by a very grouchy man) went quickly, and we found a taxi and were at our hotel in "no time".
We are at the Hotel Beacci Tournabuoni right in the center of town, on the top floor - a great corner room five stories up (more than five since each floor has VERY high ceilings) with a fabulous view of the rooftops of Florence. There is a rooftop garden with tables and shade - really nice. We had plenty of time to unpack and walk to the famous Uffizi Gallery (tickets for 4:00pm) which was wonderful, and full of Renaissance painting by famous artists like Michelangelo. He was a protege of the powerful ruling Medici family. We had a Rick Steve's podcast on our iPods and he provided a delightful tour of the Gallery with a nice progression of art and perspective from Byzantine to Renaissance and beyond. Religious art was prolific and gave way to secular things like the famous "Birth of Venus". (Unfortunately, the famousVenus statue was in restoration.) Mention was made of the repressive fire-and-brimstone monk, Savoronella who made everyone scared to death of hell and many secular works were burned (shades of Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s in the US). But Savoronella got his in the end when the Pope declared him a heretic and he was burned at the stake.
Visiting galleries is fun but exhausting, so after a gelato, we walked back, took a nap and went to a nearby restaurant, Oliverio, for dinner. We are starting to understand Italian dining, and so far, the vegetables and salads are missing from dinner menus! Dinner was delicious and Tuscan, but all protein which was a bit rich and heavy. However, a good night's sleep got us ready for the next day.