Because our destinations were so far apart it was not plausible for us to take trains like the last trip, so we flew everywhere pretty much. Luckily the best deals for travel were in the middle of the day, so we had leisurely mornings on our travel days... this day began with waking up at 8:45am... blissful!!
We arrived at the airport early and at checkin they told us we could carry-on our bags! YAY! The conversation actually went like this...
Check in Man: Do you have any luggage to check in?
Phoebe & I: well we have these carry on bags, do they need to be checked?
Check in Man: Yes, they are too big
Phoebe & I: well we have carried them on to other flights like British Airways
Check in Man: Fair enough, they're fine.
He was rather apathetic about the whole thing really, but we loved him for it.
Our plane ended up being slightly delayed, but we weren't too worried. When we finally did get on the plane Phoebe and I distracted ourselves from the turbulence and the smelly man next to us with watching Star Trek on my iPod (yes I know it's still in theaters). We love that movie SO MUCH!
Upon arriving at the airport we had a moment of panic when I realized my passport had fallen out of my purse on the plane, but it was quickly retrieved and we set off with little stress after that. The kind old Italian guard who found it and gave it to me was such a flirt... he leaned in for me to give him a kiss on the cheek when he gave it to me, but I pretended not to notice and walked on with a thank you... just a preview of the Italian men to come. Also at the airport Phoebe and I got our passports stamped... they weren't going to, but we asked for one and they at first looked at us like we were a little nuts, but then conceded.
YAY, we're in Florence - on Italian soil! Italy was my second country after the United Kingdom that I wanted to go to.
We walked to our hostel, which was a converted Monastery, put our stuff down and then set off for Il Duomo. We were behind schedule with our flight delay by a couple hours, so we missed the Cathedral, but the Bell Tower was still open for us to climb up and see the view! (seen in the right of the below picture)
The stairs were SO STEEP and there were SO MANY!!! It was quite a climb
But the view was fantastic from ever level
When we got to the top it was definitely a reward to see the BEAUTIFUL dome and all of Florence!
We were famished after our strenuous climb so we rewarded ourselves with authentic Italian pizza for dinner and waffles with chocolate sauce for dessert!! YUM!!!
We did some shopping in the markets that were still open (everything is SO EXPENSIVE!) as we made our way to Piazza Signorio which once was the sight where The David was held... but now there is only a fake David, as the real David is in the Academia
We also went to the Piazza Piti where we saw these... strange
This is on the Ponte Vecchio, which is a bridge that has countless jewelry store on it as well as street performers...
We also stumbled upon Dante's house (as in Dante's Inferno author).
We made it back to our hostel before dark (cause the neighborhood was scary to be out after dark in. We met our roommates, one of them was a girl from Sydney, Australia. Phoebe was getting tired of all the Americans in our rooms. Phoebe and I also were getting tired of explaining how we knew each other. It became like a script for us when we introduced ourselves - "I'm from American, I'm from Australia. No we didn't meet traveling, we've been studying together in London for the last 6 months... in a little town 40 minutes outside of London... I study History, I study Drama... " End scene.
Our second day in Florence started with a bit of a let down. I had planned our day to a "T" and was already needing to add things in from us being behind schedule the day before, but upon arriving at Santa Croche church and being the first in line I was notified I was not allowed in the church because of my shorts... AH! I had remembered the whole no shoulders showing thing, but didn't pay attention to legs being shown. You see how legalism is thwarting my plans... ugh! So we had to walk the 20 minutes back to the hostel to change because I wasn't chancing being denied into any other churches...
We decided after changing to head straight to Il Duomo and return to Santa Croche if we found we had time. We only wanted a peek inside Il Duomo, but didn't feel the need to climb up to dome since we had already seen a view of Florence the day before...
Sad to say though, the inside of Il Duomo... nothing to write home about...
We couldn't even get directly below the dome to see the painting on the inside... so this was the best I could see
So that was much faster than we planned... we took some pics outside Il Duomo... and I was even able to grab a piece of the building for a friend from a refurbishment sight on the south side.
After Il Duomo we went to the Bargello which is a museum
These are some lion statues...
The Bargello is famous for holding the statue "David with a Hat"... okay so that is not the real name, but it does have a hat. It is in fact Donatello's David and was the first nude statue in the Italian Renaissance... the first nude statue since Greek Antiquity in fact... he kind of looks girlie huh? He's standing on Goliath's head... and look at that hat! What a hat!!
Donatello was Michaelangelo's mentor and we'll see later how the student far surpassed the talents of his master... but I'm getting ahead of myself.
The Bargello was not all that and quite frankly charged way too much to get in, so we left pretty quickly... but we did pass by a set of barnyard animal statues on our way out... yeah... cool.
So with our discovery that both the Bargello and Il Duomo were not worth spending too much time in, we found we had MORE than enough time to go back to Santa Croche before our date with the Uffizi
Santa Croche is the burial place of Michaelangelo and Dante!! We wandered around until we found their tombs and along the way we found a plaque in memory of Leonardo Da Vinci... not buried there mind you, but remembered in the church
Here's Michaelangelo's grave
And Dante's grave
As you can see in the above photo I have my shoulders respectfully covered. But as Phoebe and I wandered around the church we discovered that MOST of it was under construction... even the high alter was hidden behind scaffolding... we were not happy. So to show our appreciation to Saint Crotch (not what Santa Croche really means, but fair enough) we took these pictures
Santa Croche did redeem itself with have a leather school attached to it where Phoebe and I bought AWESOME leather wallets and change purses! Then as we left we came upon this gorgeous courtyard
We had ample time to spare as we walked to the Uffizi, so we looked through the markets along the way. One young gentleman working there tried to talk me into buy something and when I declined and walked away he called after me, "you dropped something..." when I turned around to look he continued, "you dropped my heart." Oh I wanted to run up to him and give him a hug he was so precious and completely made my day... it was the cheesiest thing I had ever heard in my life, I literally almost gagged... but I love him for it.
We made it to the Uffizi for our alloted time. It is wise to buy a ticket online with an appointed time on it because there is a 2 hour wait to get in otherwise. We got to jump the queue and just walk right it. No photos allowed inside... but here is the famous painting I saw...
The Uffizi was surprisingly small, but had some beautiful stuff in it.
We got done with the Uffizi just in time for lunch, which we had by Il Duomo and then set off for most city exploring before our date at the Academia.
Then the Academia!!! Here he is!!!
Okay so we weren't supposed to take pictures, but no one was stopping anyone, so we just kept going
He seriously is amazing... a perfect sculpture! Michaelangelo sculpted him knowing that he would be set up high, so he looks perfectly proportional only from that angle... if he is viewed straight on he wouldn't look right. There is a plaque by The David which reads something like - there is no need to see any other statue, because this one if pure perfection - and I agree.
The Academia doesn't offer much else besides The David, but it was the first art School ever and is still a working art school... so there's that for coolness.
To finish our time in Florence on a good note we had delicious biscotti and tiramisu gelato
Now here's the awful truth about Florence -
- No one is particularly kind to you... they often treat you like you're stupid
- you are ALWAYS in someone's way... even if you are no where near them they will go out of their way to run into you and blame you for it
- Italians are rude
- Florence is not that pretty aside from the pretty building which I took pictures of
- I was kind of disappointed