Our first stop on the last day of our Tour of Italy was at the Florence American Cemetery Memorial. This is one of two American Cemeteries in Italy. The other is near Rome.
Rome was liberated on June 5, 1944. The Allies operated throughout Italy until all remaining German forces surrendered on May 2, 1945.
Italy donated the land for this cemetery but it is maintained and operated by the United States. It has an American caretaker.
There are 4402 memorials made from exquisite marble.
The names of 1409 persons missing in action are inscribed on these tablets.
Our next stop was a treasure among the hill towns of Tuscany, San Gimignano. High perches were important for security.
The town of San Gimignano was on the trade route in and out of Rome, to their benefit.
When Rome fell, chaos ensued, and cities and towns around the region fortified.
They operated as separate city states.
San Gimignano’s walls were placed in the 13th century.
This well in the center of town operated for more than 1000 years.
Our tour guide called San Gimignano the Manhattan of the past. There were once 60 towers, now only eight towers remain.
In the past people placed planks between buildings to move from one to the other.
In 1348, the plague decimated the town’s population by two-thirds.
Florence, the regional bully, took over and directed trade routes away from San Gimignano.
The isolation was devastating to the economy then but has left San Gimignano less changed for tourism now.
We had one last piece of “take away” Margherita Pizza and one more gelato from the best rated gelato shop in Tuscany – or maybe the world!
In the past San Gimignano had traded in leather and saffron and this shop offered a saffron flavored gelato.
We opted for our typical flavor choices instead!
The rest of the day was spent traveling to Rome and settling into our hotel for our last night in Italy. We had flights out the next day.
We had a farewell dinner and ate a delicious risotto – another meal I should have been ordering all along!
Our British Airlines flight out of Rome the next morning was delayed so we “missed” our flight out of London. While still in the air we learned we’d been re-booked on an American Airlines flight from London to Phoenix for the next day.
After landing in London we were given vouchers for transportation, hotel, meals at the hotel etc. We were impressed and not annoyed – things happen especially with travel in the (mostly) post COVID world.
Our impression changed when, after getting settled in our room, our phones started notifying us to board our British Airways flight to Phoenix. Someone or something hadn’t taken into consideration that the plane we were supposed to take leaving London was also delayed. We could have made it easily.
But done was done. We had opted not to retrieve our luggage in London so had almost nothing. It was cold and drizzly and we weren’t dressed to go out for Fish and Chips at a local pub. We’d do that differently next time! Just buy a jacket and go!
However it had happened, we had a very pleasant premium economy flight from London straight into Phoenix the next day.
Our combined trip of the Holland America Transatlantic Cruise and the Trafalgar Tour of Italy was terrific. After being gone for five weeks, it was good to be home.
Next post: The epilogue – our summary thoughts about our trip and details that didn’t make it in anywhere else.