Writing now from Florence (how does Firenze translate to Florence? it doesn't even sound similar) and still loving Italy. I feel like there's nothing I haven't loved on this whole trip, oh - except Madrid. Europe is just been awesome in general. The food is better, the coffee and wine - don't get me started - are fantastic, the safety is better, the transportation is better (at worst, trains are a little sluggish), the amount of vacation people take here is way better, all the communities are environmentally-efficient... well come to think of it, public toilets do really suck in Italy, and trying to get your waiter to make a second of eye contact when you need to get the check and go can also REALLY suck, but that's about it for any complaints from me.
We both adore everything in Italy so far. People are super friendly whether or not they speak any English, the food and souvenirs are super cheap but high quality, and the scenery is just unbeatable. Kate and I have both taken SO many pictures and bought SO many scenic postcards in the last few days.
We spent last night and this morning in Siena (left) which is the perfect little Italian city in the heart of Tuscany. When I come back to Italy someday, Siena is where I'll go for 3-4 days to relax, but to really experience Italy. Also of course I would take a little regional train over to Cinque Terre the rest of the week. I can't pass up Riomaggiore or Manarola again, visting those towns was the complete highlight of my year, they were really that loveable and their low-key sightseeing gave me lots of time to relax and think. Even with a few too many Americans there for Memorial Day weekend, that area still feels unspoiled. I told Kate in Cinque Terre, "I wish I had brought a book to read or a book to write".
Here's some pictures of the really crazy, or more politely the unconventional duomo in Siena (below). The black and white stripes totally say "Beetlejuice". I love Siena's crazy style.
Oh yeah, really funny - in Venice they make calendars with Preists of the month and Gondoleers of the Month.