After spending the day in Rome, I awaken the next day and eat a breakfast panini accompanied by a cappuccino. I just can’t get enough of the coffee in Italy. When I head to the airport, there’s blue skies and puffy clouds. I’ve got a short 78 nm flight to LIRZ Perugia San Francesco d'Assisi – Umbria International Airport.
Green and ochre fields greet me at the start of the journey.
Soon towns dapple the landscape.
The vegetation becomes lusher, greener, as I approach my destination.
After landing, I visit Piazza IV Novembre in Perugia. The Cathedral di San Lorenzo in the Piazza took two-hundred-and-thirty years to complete. I try to imagine a modern-day project planned for a such a duration. I get something to eat at Borgomela, then I’m back in the air. The trip to LIRQ Firenze Peretola Airport is nearly the same length, covering 71 nm.
I skirt along verdant mountains.
In no time, I’m lined up with Florence’s field.
As I’m walking away from my Piper on Firenze’s apron, I spot another American pilot inspecting his plane. We start up a conversation and I tell him about my Italy tour, Tomorrow he’s heading west to Nice, but he’s about to do a little VFR sightseeing over Florence. His plane is a Cirrus SR22, a half-million-dollar marvel of modern technology, I admire its graceful beauty.
He asks if I’d like to fly along for the ride. I’ve never been in an SR22, and accept. Inside, it's posh, with a dashboard comprised of two computer screens. Both pilot and co-pilot controls are single-handed joysticks. It’s like being in a two-seat spaceship.
He points up to the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS). In the event of an emergency, the plane can deploy a parachute and float to the ground. I ask him what he thinks of it. He says Cirrus’s statistics state there have been ninety-six deployments of the system, with one-hundred-eighty-six survivors. It’s nice to have the option.
We file VFR and takeoff. The Cirrus accelerates quickly with its 310 HP engine. Soon we’re flying over Florence, following the Arno River south. The famous bridge, Ponte Vecchio, passes beneath us. The last time I was here in 2003, I snapped a picture of it from the river bank.
Nearby, the dome of the Cathedral of Santa Marie del Fiore is easily spottable just behind our left wing.
I recall the rust-colored dome visible from the busy Florence streets when I was last here.
We finish our aerial circuit and return to the airport. I thank him, and wish him well with his travels. I’ll be at Nice myself, but not for another week or so, after I finish my Italy tour. For now, I head over to my hotel and consider where to visit first.