June 6, 2022

Today, Monday, was a free day. After traveling and sightseeing together for the last week, it was a day for everyone to get to do what they wanted. For some that meant sleeping in late and doing laundry. For others that meant shopping. Some went sightseeing to the beautiful Renaissance Church here in Florence and some even climbed the stairs of the tower! 

They have become known as our “steeple chasers”. They climb every tower and dome that they can. Others rented Vespas to ride around town. Several went to go see an incredible exhibition of the famous artist Donatello. A group of 20 people took a train ride to Pisa and went to go see a leaning tower.

Most people found some time to go to the Square in Florence and have a cup of coffee and gelato and people watch!

Marsha and I went to Palazzo Vecchio and toured the 500 year old building where the Medici family and Pope Leo X once lived.   He was the pope who got into a fight with a little German monk named Martin Luther.

While I sat on the edge of the Square and drank my coffee and ate my gelato,  I thought about the history of Florence.

This is where the Renaissance began!!

Europe had been living in the dark ages for centuries. Life was hard and there was very little joy. Now, with the dawn of the Renaissance, people begin to paint and sculpt incredible art! The world was full of color and music and life. Unfortunately that led to excess. The rich would have a 50 course dinner that went on for hours where they would have the delicacy of eating peacock tongues.

In reaction to the drunkenness and gluttony, a lay person name Savonarola arose. He began to preach how all the people were going to hell and God was going to punish them. Judgement was on its way!! He was a fiery preacher and developed a following. Soon there were bonfires burning all the sensual paintings of the Renaissance, fine clothes, and literature. All of the young women in Florence were saying they were going to a convent and not marry. The young men were not happy. After a few years of the severity and the negativity, people decided they did not want to go back to the dark ages and Savonarola was first hung and then his body was burned.

As I sat there in the square thinking about this history I was reminded of how important it is to keep a balance in life, to enjoy the wonderful gifts that God has given us without abusing them. When you remember to give thanks for all of the gifts of life and we live in a spirit of gratitude, then we will be better prepared to share God‘s love and bring hope in this world!

Tomorrow it is on the Venice!!

Bob Long