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Ciao Firenze: COA takes virtual tour

By Lauren Schiavone
Hometown Weekly Staff

The Council on Aging hosted an armchair traveler event at the Westwood Public Library on Thursday, July 19, as seniors and library patrons stayed cool in the Community Meeting Room and got a taste of Florence, Italy. Led by Linda Sorgiovanni and Carolyn White of Casa Mia Tours, the scenery of the library faded as a walking tour whisked everyone away to the streets of the Renaissance capital. 

Experience manager Carolyn White stated, “In 2020 we started doing online cooking classes and wine and cheese tastings. We all have a culinary background. Gina [Tringali] is a sommelier and Eleonora [Baldwin] is a cheese guru.” White partners with the two other owners to create a full experience of Italy that’s back in full swing, both in-person and online. “We developed an amazing community. We wanted to share the culture as much as we can. Westwood took it to a whole new level.” 

Linda Sorgiovanni used Zoom to connect in real-time to the aspirational travelers. Beginning at 1 p.m., Sorgiovanni showed what life is like around top spots in Florence. Due to high temperatures reaching over one hundred degrees and the six hour time difference, classic tourist spots weren’t crowded on the evening.

The circumstances yielded a great view of Giotto’s Bell Tower at the Piazza del Duomo. A staple in 14th century Gothic architecture, the Bell Tower is considered one of the city's most beautiful historical spots. Other breathtaking views included that of the Palazzo Vecchio, or “old palace”, which is the tallest building in Florence, and Dome of the Florence Cathedral, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, a six-hundred-year-old cathedral, complete with terracotta from Impruneta. 

Sorgiovanni explained: “Firenze is a walking museum because many of the wealthy families who lived here supported the arts.” 

Many of the buildings in the city are constantly being restored so that they can continue to be admired, studied, and recognized as the incredible historical sights they are. The hour-long tour seemed all too short as seniors were awestruck by Sorgiovanni’s expertise and the one-of-a-kind opportunity they were presented, all from the comfort of their local library. The tour rounded out with an Italian delicacy: gelato! Various flavors of gelato and sorbet were served and guests discussed travel plans whilst relaxing outside on the library’s porch rocking chairs.

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