This is a photo of my good friend Heidi from Mission Viejo, California. About a week ago she called to tell me that 2 of her colleagues, Annmarie and Darcie, were coming to Florence for a day and she asked me if I could help give them some advice on where to go and what to see. Heidi is one of my very best girlfriends in California, who I met about 3 years ago through my Renegades cycling team. We hit it off from the start and became very dear friends. I attended her beautiful wedding 1 1/2 years ago in Laguna Beach and she is one of my girlfriends who always reads my blog and keeps in touch on a regular basis. She knows that I have found my place in Florence, but this has not kept her from keeping our friendship going. She has remained a loyal and true friend and I love her to death. She is one of those golden friends that you keep forever, regardless of distance or life's distractions...she is always there. She is a court interpretor in OC, a hard serious worker and she is an impressive competitive cyclist and triathlete. She's sweet, unpretentious and just a very honest and natural person. For this, I love her. And I miss her.
So, after 10 days of being deathly ill, I was praying that I would feel well enough today to meet Heidi's colleagues at the train station, and to bring them for a tour of Florence. I felt ready, and ventured out this morning to meet Darcie (from Seal Beach) and Annmarie (from Huntington Beach) at the train station. We had a GREAT time, and I am definitely better, though not 100%.
Spending time with people from back home is a real treat for me. We started off at the Basilica di Santa Maria Novella , then to the Duomo, Piazza Strozzi, Piazza della Reppublica, then on to Orsanmichele, Piazza Signoria, the Ufizzi, the Ponte Vecchio and then on to San Niccolo for a quick caffè, then on to Piazza Poggie, Piazzale Michelangelo, San Miniato, Santa Croce, San Ambrogio Market, then I showed them my apartment, and then we headed for lunch in my favorite spot on Via San Antonio.
After lunch, they were supposed to board a train to Pisa, but they decided they were having such a good time in Florence....why go to see the Leaning Tower? They cancelled Pisa in favor of continuing our beautiful day in Florence. So we hopped a bus and went to the Accademia to see David, after which we boarded a bus up to Fiesole and walked up to the Convento di San Francesco for a stunning view of Florence. They then departed for Rome from the station.
When people come from out of town, it renews me. It makes me see Florence from someone else's eyes and it makes me love my city and love my life here even more. It is not only fun sharing with others the great passion that I have, but it makes me delight even more in the love that I have for Florence.
Ok, Heidi....next year you and Ken are coming here with your bikes for a tour across Tuscany and Umbria. We will rent a villa or farmhouse and invite a few others to join us. Start thinking of who you want to bring. We will cycle throughout Tuscany, hire a chef to cook our dinners and give us cooking lessons and we can visit all the major wine estates and castels in the region. I have a great itinerary that takes in the very best of Tuscany. Plan on spending the best week of your life here!