October 24, 2013. Headed out, on a cloudy day, to see if we could get in to the Uffizi without reservations (it's not easy...). No. There are - as an Italian later told us - just so many people. No. The Uffizi gets 1 million visitors a year and is almost impossible to get in. The Louvre, on the other hand, takes the hassle out of getting in (for less cost) for the 8.5 million who come. The Italian ministry of tourism (by whatever name it exists) is clearly ambivalent about tourists coming: they (we) are going to come anyway, so why work to make it easy. France has Paris. Italy has Florence and Rome and Venice and a much warmer climate, similarly great food and wine and art (France is better in each, but not by much), yet France gets 3x the tourists of Italy - because they work at it! An ad for the French train system, to bring customers off planes, asks " What does France look like from 30,000 feet?". On the next page, the answer: "Italy".
So we crossed the river as the clouds broke up, went up to the 19th century Piazza Michelangelo and took some great photos. We have developed a base line for Italuan restaurants that we will try: can't be smoky (LOTS of people smoke here even though it's against the law in restaurants), can't be hot (for some reason Italians think 80 and still deserves a coat and a scarf), and can't be loud ( the city is loud enough without piped in crooners in Italian preventing any conversation). Sometimes we have to stretch to find such a thing!