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ALEX When we went to museums like the Uffizi, I gave myself a project: Find the Ninja Turtles (Raphael, Donatello, Leonardo, and Michelangelo). You can see Michelangelo all over Florence—his David is in the Galleria dell'Accademia. Even though there are copies of it everywhere, you should still go to the actual site—it looks even better than it did in SpongeBob.

BUFFY The Duomo, besides marking the center of Florence, is the biggest dome built before the 20th century. We took a brief tour of the marble and stone interior, and Alex insisted on walking up the 473 steps to the top. I let the boys take that excursion by themselves, while I found a shady spot near the Baptistry with a good view of the dome. When they reached the top, they called on the cell phone, and I waved from 350 feet below.

JIM Every day I would say, "And now we're going to go to the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo." Well, it never happened. On our last afternoon in Florence, Alex and I took a taxi to the Cascine, the big park in the western part of the city, and went to the Pavoniere,Florence's best public pool. It has pavilions at either end that look like Roman temples. The whole scene was sort of early Hefner, with guys wearing Speedo-style briefs and women in bikinis. The Florentines strolled to the snack bar; they lay on their tummies and worked on their golden tans. What they did not do was swim. Alex and I had the pool to ourselves.

ALEX The souvenir shopping was another good thing about Florence, especially at the Straw Market near Ponte Vecchioand the San Lorenzo market, a hippie place. I loved Florence, and the amazing thing about it was that my parents didn't torture me.


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