Monday, September 16, 2013

Italy 2013: FLORENCE I

Good Monday morning, everyone!

So here's the deal. I've been sitting on the couch pretty much all morning, trying to figure out how to write this post.
And it just ain't happenin'.

I don't think I'm some effective, silver-tongued writer, but I like to think I'm at least decent at it, usually. But I guess my brain just isn't in the mood to write anything particularly worth reading today. So go ahead, ignore my inarticulate descriptions and simply enjoy some photos of one of my favorite places--Florence!

After a couple quiet days in Spello, we were ready to take on the bustling tourist hotspot that is Florence. The cultural wealth of this city is simply incredible. It was the birthplace of the Renaissance, and the various artistic and philosophical movements that came out of that rebirth still influence the way we think and feel today. Its no wonder people feel such a connection when they're there. Florence and its Renaissance remind us just how creatively capable humanity is.

Unfortunately everybody else knows this too, which means the tourist industry is alive and well, and thrives on overpriced goods, sub-par service, and the one-too-many tour groups that come through. But if you time your museum visits right and wander away from the major tourist sites for meals, you can have a totally different experience. But more on that later!

My one requirement for our trip to Florence was that we simply had to stay at the same hotel I stayed at on my Travel Study trip two years ago.

Now, this hotel isn't necessarily the most impressive. The furnishings are simple, the air conditioning is non-existent, and the rickety elevator will make you pray you make it to your floor. But there is one particular reason why this hotel is so worth it....
Ba-boom! You open up your windows and this is what you see. The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore and the Duomo are just right there! In your face! I'd say its arguably the best view in Florence.
And although the rooms are simple, there are some great details like these gorgeous metal hooks, the idyllic wooden shutters, and the remnants of 16th century frescoes on the ceiling---now that's not something you'd find in America!
Our first afternoon in Florence we visited all things Duomo--the Cathedral, the Baptistry, and the Duomo museum. We had a package ticket that also included admission to the actual Duomo, but I was still too chicken to climb it. I wanted to want to climb to the top, but I'd much rather not die instead. So we passed on that adventure this time.
First stop was the Basilica. We also were able to tour the ruins underneath the Cathedral.
Next stop was the Baptistry and its incredible gold ceiling.
And of course the replica Baptistry doors.
It was quite a windy day--bad for my tangle-prone hair, great for relieving us from that August heat.
Our final Duomo visit was the Duomo Museum. Now you might be wondering why we took a photo of a four fingered sculpture. Well here's the scoop: about two weeks before our trip, we saw this article online about how some doofus tourist had actually snapped the finger off a sculpture in the Duomo Museum. And how did it happen? He wanted to measure the finger. Oh boy. Ya know, I'm sure he's very embarrassed about what happened. But that's why you're not supposed to touch the art, people! Its not yours, so don't touch it. 
Joey and I wondered if the sculpture would still be on display, so we both chuckled to ourselves when we walked in to the first room and there he was, pinky-less and all.
Now this was so exciting! The original Baptistry doors are normally on display at the museum, but when I went two years ago they were being restored so we didn't get to see them. So imagine my surprise when we turn the corner and there they are! I couldn't stop smiling and pulling on Joey's sleeve and whispering 'look, look at the doors!'.
In addition to the doors, they had a great display about their history and how they were restored. Its amazing what skilled artists and scientists are capable of!
So great news: we saw the original Baptistry doors and Michelangelos's unfinished Pieta. Bad news: that was pretty much all there was to see. Unfortunately everything else (except for some architectural elements from the original Basilica) was being restored. Full disclosure: I may have gotten a little weepy and pouty when I found out we couldn't see Donatello's Mary Magdalene, one of my favorite sculptures and one that I connected with the most on my last trip. I guess that just means we're going to have to go back again! 
After the museum we set out walking and exploring around the city!
Ha oh yeah, these. Chugging liters of water became a frequent activity. Dang summer heat.
We wandered on the Market of the Boar and managed to find Joey a snazzy leather belt.
The story is that rubbing the market boar statue brings good luck!
Next stop was a walk along Ponte Vecchio, the only bridge in Florence that wasn't destroyed in WWII and now the oldest bridge in the city. Ponte Vecchio is the gold street, with jewelry stores lined along the entire bridge.
More love locks--we wish we had remembered to bring one!
The Uffizi is close to Ponte Vecchio and the Arno River, so we walked through the piazza and watched dozens of street artists sketching portraits and caricatures. 
The Uffizi piazza opens up in to the Piazza della Signoria, a big square with restaurants, gelato shops, and several statue replicas including a replica of Michelangelo's David.
Our first meal in Florence: pizza with arugula and a mushroom ravioli with cream sauce.
After the sun sets, Florence wakes up. There is so much to do and see so we did a little strolling to look at the lights and gorgeous storefronts. 
And no night is complete without a little late night tiramisu for dessert! However some tiramisu gelato we had the next day was five times better than any slice of tiramisu we've ever had.
Loved getting to look at the Duomo every night before bed!

A great first day in Florence---and we haven't even visited the Uffizi and the Accademia yet!


  1. I'm so jelly! I dreamt just last night that I was back roaming the streets of Florence. That place is magical. So much fun that you got to return with your hubby!

  2. Florence looks absolutely amazing! So incredibly jealous! :) Aaaaaaaaaand, any kind of tiramisu is amazing and gets a giant tick in my book! Yummy!

  3. Room With a View much? Have you read the book or seen the movie?! If not, you should and you will love Florence all the more for it!

    1. I have actually! haha but its been a while.


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