Today was the Epiphany celebration in Florence.  Some say this date is more important than Christmas for many Italians.  I guess every year they have an Epiphany parade, so we went out to see what it is like – their version of the Rose parade, but no floats.  It was pretty cool though.  The costumes were wonderful and the flag twirling and throwing was impressive.  It started at the Palazzo Pitti and crossed the Arno where we watched it in the Piazza della Signoria before it went to the Duomo and then back.  After it passed us we went into the Palazzo Vecchio to take the tour on our own this time.  The first time was on the Dan Brown Inferno tour so we wanted to take it a little slower.  It is a beautiful palace and was the original city hall until Cosimo I (Medici) took charge and was given the title of Grand Duke.  He moved dhis family over from the Medici-Riccardi Palace and completely revamped the palace.  Later, his wife Eleonora moved the family over the river to the Pitti Palace and that is when the Vasari Corrodor was built to connect the two palaces.  The highlight is the Grand Salon called the Salone del Cinquecento with huge ceiling and wall paintings by Vasari and his assistants.  There is  Michelangelo’s Victory sculpture in this huge room also.  Then we spent the next hour plus going through the rest of the beautiful rooms.  When we finished we were surprised to see that the parade was returning and still continuing on back to where it started.  That was one long parade.  But it was such a beautiful day and all the colorful clothes and flags were wonderful.  A ton of people out, for it was a holiday,  with all the kids.