Since we have been here in Florence from November 1, Bruce and I have seen just about everything you can see. So now we want to go back to the first churches we looked at because it is now not so overwhelming as it was at the very beginning. Some of the pictures could be repeats but now I know the history of most of them it is much more interesting. We have until February 1, when we will then go to southern Italy, but until that time we have one or two side trips and will get as much out of Florence as we can. What a fantastic city this has been for art and history enthusiasts! We started out going into the downtown area to check out the crowds and some of the after Christmas sales. We can tell by all the English around us that the students are back in town for the new semester. So it is not a ghost town. Some stores are shut down for the month – like our favorite gelato store and our favorite cappuccino morning stop. So one has to be prepared to be disappointed if your place to shop or eat is closed when you arrive. They live by their schedule – not capitalistic at all! We then walked to Santa Maria Novella to again see the art in this old church dating back to the 1200’s. So, in this church we have art works from many great artists. Starting with Giotto (1266-1337) who revived art, Masaccio (1401-1428)who was said to have “purged the art of painting of its harshness, imperfections, and difficulties, and who paved the way towards more beautiful expressions, gestures, boldness, and vitality, achieving a certain relief in his figures which was truly appropriate and natural”, Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446) who’s “genius was so lofty that it might well be said he had been sent to us by Heaven to give a new form to architecture which had been going astray for hundreds of years”, Filippo Lippi (1406-1469) who as a young man visited Masaccio’s work every day and practiced sketching there, “so far surpassing the others in skill and knowledge that it was taken for granted he would certainly in time create marvelous things”, Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510) whose talents were quickly realized and requested all over Florence. “Every artisan of our day is still amazed by the beauty of his colouring, design, and composition”, and Vasari ( 1511-1574) “a painter, architect, writer, and historian, whose most famous for his lives of the most excellent painters, sculptors, and architects”, and from whose book I am getting much of my information. So we finished going through Santa Maria Novella and took a long walk over to another part of Florence tourists usually don’t see looking for a new camera. We found a store called “Saturn” which is their version of Best Buy and actually found a pretty nice camera that wasn’t too expensive. So hopefully my pictures will return to better quality. By this time it was dinnertime and we had heard about a Mexican restaurant called Tijuana’s downtown so we finished up there. All in all I think we must have walked at least 6 miles today. Guilt-free margarita’s! HAH!