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Finally about four o’clock in the morning the carriage stopped; my Italian friend awoke and demanded the cause.  “Signor,” said the vetturino, “we are in Florence!” I blessed the man, and the city too.  The good-humored officer looked at our passports and passed our baggage without examination; we gave the gatekeeper a paul and he admitted us.  The carriage rolled through the dark, silent streets—­passed a public square—­came out on the Arno—­crossed and entered the city again—­and finally stopped at a hotel.  The master of the “Lione Bianco” came down in an undress to receive us, and we shut the growing dawn out of our rooms to steal that repose from the day which the night had not given.

CHAPTER XXXIV.

FLORENCE AND ITS GALLERIES.

Sept. 11.—­Our situation here is as agreeable as we could well desire.  We have three large and handsomely furnished rooms, in the centre of the city, for which we pay Signor Lazzeri, a wealthy goldsmith, ten scudo per month—­a scudo being a trifle more than an American dollar.  We live at the Cafes and Trattone very conveniently for twenty-five cents a day, enjoying moreover, at our dinner in the Trattoria del Cacciatore, the company of several American artists with whom we have become acquainted.  The day after our arrival we met at the table d’hote of the “Lione Bianco,” Dr. Boardman of New York, through whose assistance we obtained our present lodgings.  There are at present ten or twelve American artists in Florence, and we promise ourselves much pleasure and profit from their acquaintance.  B——­ and I are so charmed with the place and the beautiful Tuscan dialect, that we shall endeavor to spend three or four months here.  F——­ returns to Germany in two weeks, to attend the winter term of the University at his favorite Heidelberg.

Our first walk in Florence was to the Royal Gallery—­we wished to see the “goddess living in stone” without delay.  Crossing the neighboring Piazza del Granduca, we passed Michael Angelo’s colossal statue of David, and an open gallery containing, besides some antiques, the master-piece of John of Bologna.  The palace of the Uffizii, fronting on the Arno, extends along both sides of an avenue running back to the Palazzo Vecchio.  We entered the portico which passes around under the great building, and after ascending three or four flights of steps, came into a long hall, filled with paintings and ancient statuary.  Towards the end of this, a door opened into the Tribune—­that celebrated room, unsurpassed by any in the world for the number and value of the gems it contains.  I pushed aside a crimson curtain and stood in the presence of the Venus.

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