our friends, grant and mandi burke were here this week scoping out italy so that they can bring some of grant's students here this summer. we were lucky enough to work it out so that we could hang out with them wednesday afternoon. after our classes that morning and afternoon, we walked over to their hotel and met up with them for some walking, talking, and of course, gelato.
it was raining on and off and still a little chilly, so we took them to an artisan that we love and his workshop in the piazza santo spirito (my favorite church and area of the city). he has been doing this work for 49 years and has this machine that was made in 1900 that presses different metals through and imprints a design onto it, this is all after he has hand carved the pattern on a little block of steel (this part takes 6 months). he makes stuff for neiman marcus, christian dior, saks, southeby's, and a lot of other fancy shmancy places (the stores of which i will never step my feet in). he pressed a gigli into a euro for us and i also got this bracelet. i think the burkes really liked him and mandi got a few goodies, so i'm sure she did.
we were so enthralled with their work that we all forgot to take any pictures but ryan took one of our goodies and his info.
after that we wondered south through the streets, stopped at a few art stores that i wanted to show mandi and then to the art institute of florence (which used to be the horse stables for the medici). there is a big loop trail in front of it so we walked that and then back into town.
by this time we were getting hungry and we wanted to use some of our american money that we've had since we arrived here in september and we had planned on eating a restaurant we know of that takes american money on wednesday nights. however, we figured the burkes would want pasta and pizza, but they were tired of it too, so it was perfect. we sat there for a couple of hours, got full and rested our feet.
now, thursday was the 150th anniversary of the unification of italy and italians love an excuse for a party. so, at about 9 wednesday night the streets started filling up in preparation for midnight celebrations, and right outside the window of our restaurant the genuine historical renaissance minstrels started lining up for their parade in their historically accurate costumes (tight tights with short shirts included) and instruments. we watched them stretch and warm up and after they took off we did too.
(an awesome band we followed around)
(some of the crowd)
(there was a market of some of the artisans of florence, this is a mosaic!)
(every major monument was lit in green white and red,
mandi and i are really small but we're there too)
i'll let the pictures tell the rest because i'm tired of typing but it was a really fun day/night to catch up with friends in town. we ended the night on top of their hotel waiting for fireworks that were supposed to start at 11:30 but when we finally had to leave at 12:40 to catch our bus had still not started.
(what a view we would have had if the fireworks had started on time)
it was a great day!