The situation is very unstable. Internet cafe prices are ridiculously high at the moment - up to $20 per hour! I managed to find a small place for only $7 an hour but I'm trying to back up my photos and the USB hardware interface on this computer is very flakey.
Because of this, I'm not going to risk posting any photos at this time, in case I upset the balance... I may post another entry later with photos. But I may not.
Interestingly, I had to present my passport (which was then photocopied) in order to use the Internet. This is standard practice in Italy due to (Anti?) Terrorism Laws. I consider it only a short step from this to recording everything you ever receive or transmit from a public terminal against your name. Not a good thing. I'm not sure having my passport photocopied is very reassuring either.
Anyway, we've spent the last four days or so in Florence, or Firenze as the Italians like to call it, and Lucca.
Florence is a very nice city on a river (like any respectable European town). We had a good look around and made it to the Uffizi art gallery where we saw some wonderful art works. The feel of the city is more relaxed than Roma and there are some good markets. P had already seen Michaelangelo's statue of David. I had not. I thought about standing for an hour or two in a queue, but in the end I settled for walking up to the copper replica on one of the nearby hills. There's also a concrete-coloured replica in the original standing place but it was obscured by scaffolding. We also visited a museum where instantiations of some of Leonardo da Vinci's drawings have been constructed (recently) and are on display.
We noticed that the exterior of the American Consulate was heavily defended by armed police 24/7 and all the roads around it had been blocked off permanently. I guess that's one way to keep the neighbourhood quiet but I can't help but feel sorry for the poor locals who used to use those roads to get around the city.
Lucca is a pleasant walled town north of Firenze. It's actually the first European town we've seen so far that has a 100% complete wall. It's nicely maintained and you can cycle around it. This we did. Today we took a train to Pisa to see the famous tower, Baptistry and Duomo. The tower is quaint but the Duomo and Baptistry are far more interesting buildings. The Baptistry leans a bit too.
The rest of the time we've spent eating amazing food and wandering the streets. Tomorrow we head to the coast where we will explore the Cinque Terre.