2014!!  Wow!  I have taken a little break from dragging my camera everywhere so have not done a blog since Christmas eve in Rome.  We spent a pretty quiet Christmas, although when we went out and walked around Rome was still “hopping”.  The next day we trained it back to our Florence apartment.  For the next several days we leisurely went to all those sights that were on our pass and would expire December 31.  And, boy!, is Florence ever busy with tourists.  But with our passes we breezed right in so we again saw the Pitti Palace and gardens, Borgella museum, The Accademia where the David is again (third time), and Bardini Villa gardens.  It was a very relaxing and pleasant week.  One evening we attended a concert by a New York high school group in one of the churches.  They did a Christmas concert and it was wonderful!  The church was packed so the Italians seemed to like our Christmas music.  They gave them a standing ovation.  It was the first time we were able to hear Christmas music and we thoroughly enjoyed it.  Earlier in the month we had made New Year’s eve reservations at a restaurant we liked right on the river by the Ponte Vecchio – where the action is.  And what a good choice that was.  We headed out at 9:30 (our usual bedtime)  to walk down to the restaurant.  Everyone was out with such a party atmosphere.  The restaurant was packed but we got a great table right at the window overlooking the Arno river and the Ponte Vecchio – perfect!  They had an excellent jazz band playing.  As we were eating we could see the crowds accumulating on the bridge and across the river from us all the way down to the next bridge, waiting for midnight waving their lazar lights and shooting fire crackers and bombs(not sure what they were, but felt like bombs).  It  was so festive.  We finished up about 12:30 and strolled back to the apartment and the streets were still packed with fireworks still going off.  The city apparently does not have any organized firework,s it is done by individuals or businesses.  So they were going off in every direction.  Very fun.  Happy New Year!