Florence – birthplace of the Renaissance and home of the Medicis; the epicenter of a cultural rebirth of Western art in all its forms. Today we experienced, first hand, some of the artistic, architectural and literary marvels dating as far back as the 14th century. We began our day with a walking tour of Florence. We first stopped to view locations where Michaelangelo and Da Vinci each lived and worked including where the famous Mona Lisa was painted. We paused at Dante’s house and learned of his central contribution to the creation of the Italian language with his seminal work, “The Divine Comedy.” The centre of the action, however, was the Piazza della Signoria. Here we saw a number of examples of marble and bronze sculptures including an exact copy of Michaelangelo’s David in the location it was originally kept during the time of the Medicis. Our last stop was the Ponte Vecchio, Florence’s most famous bridge, with its rows of jewelry shops lining the street. After breaking for lunch our long run of great weather was abruptly broken as the rain clouds opened and poured through the afternoon. Spirits, however, we not dampened, as the students took the chance to head indoors to shop, visit restaurants and other locations of historical and cultural significance around the city. Ms. Terness and her crew of ladies (plus brave Justin!) shopped til they dropped. A rendezvous before dinner gave students a chance to head up the bell tower for an amazing, albeit rainy, view of all of Florence. The first to race up the almost 500 stairs were Matt D and Graeme G. As the rain clouds subsided, we made our way to our evening restaurant for a delicious dinner of cannoli and pork cutlets. Under a brilliantly pink-streaked sky we wandered home, but not, of course, before our nightly gelato ritual. Kirsten L has caught up, now equaling David H each with 18 gelato flavours sampled. It’s an early night in bed at 10pm with everyone tired from the long day and an early 6:30 start tomorrow. Next up is the home of St. Francis and then to Rome!