Friday, November 4, 2011

Italy- Oct. 27-28: FLORENCE

Welcome to Firenze!
Florence is located just East of Pisa. In Italian, it is not called Florence... instead, it is Firenze! We had to get used to saying that.
I was very much looking forward to visiting Florence, thanks to my grade 12 history class, where I learned a lot about the famous Duomo. Plus, my teacher loved the city and always raved about it. I was not disappointed! It was a lovely city, and the views were spectacular. However, the streets were very narrow, and buildings were higher so it felt a little more cramped.
Anyways, we arrived at our hotel in the evening after Pisa. It was nice that we had our own room, because it meant we could unpack a little. It was a pretty cheap hotel though... the walls needed a paint job, the door was fun to lock and unlock, and the shower had no shower curtain... but all in all, it was cheap and in a convenient location, so no complaints here!
On our first morning, we went out in search of Michelangelo's "David" statue. Unfortunately, in order to see the statue you had to pay 11 euros and walk through an art museum first, and we weren't sure about spending all that money. So instead, we saved our money to pay to climb the Duomo!

As you can see, it was absolutely gorgeous. It was hard to get a picture of the whole thing right next to it, since there wasn't much room and it was rather large.
Alforno di Cambio was given the task in 1296 of designing a cathedral that would be impossible to top. He succeeded, though he designed the dome without sufficient technology to actually build it, confident that by the time it came to the dome, technology would have progressed. Luckily for him, the double-shelled, interlocking brick design that allowed the dome to be built was created by Filippa Brunelleschi.
The whole cathedral was just gorgeous! There was so much detail to every panel of the outside. But the best part was probably climbing to the top of the Duomo. Despite there being 463 stairs to climb, there was an excellent reward at the top...
My right hand has a death grip on the rail...


As you can see, that view was pretty hard to top. I was completely petrified the whole time, but it was so worth it!
Afterwards, we wandered around the downtown for a bit, and saw the Ponte Vecchio, the oldest bridge in Florence, built in 1345. It was beautiful, and had jewellery stores lining it. A little out of our price range, but fun to look at.
Here's the bridge!
We wanted to find the Piazzale Michelangelo, where we read that the view was amazing. We definitely took a wrong turn, and ended up off the map and strolling through some very non-crowded streets.
A very steep street.

Favourite street!

Us, on our adventure!

We took a break in an olive grove!
They were gorgeous! I could have lived on one of those roads... you just don't get neighbourhoods like that in Peterborough! haha. It was a lot of fun going off the map, as we got to see a part of Florence that showed off its true character, away from all of the tourists. It really is worth it to leave the main attractions behind and search for the lesser known areas. You never know what you will find!
Once we realized that we were in the wrong spot, we turned around to find our way back. We eventually made it, after far too many stairs, and once again it was worth the climb. We got an amazing view of the city, complete with the Duomo:
There she is!

Up close. We climbed it!!
After our adventure, we were exhausted so we went back to our hotel room to rest and freshen up, and nap in Michelle's case! Once we were feeling ready to go again, we went out in search of our first Italian dinner. We ate at a little restaurant just near the Duomo, which was fantastic! We all got pizza. I am telling you: you have not tried real pizza until you have been to Italy. It is totally unlike any pizza I have ever had. The crust is perfectly thin, the sauce is delicious and has just the right amount, and the cheese is amazing. Michelle and Brooke got ham and mushroom pizza. I got one that said hot salami and hot peppers, but it turned out to be their version of pepperoni and cheese. Only way better than any pepperoni and cheese pizza I've ever tasted!
The next day, we caught an early train to Rome. We got the cheap train, which meant that it took 4 hours to get there but it was worth it. Although the disgusting bathrooms made me question our choice... But, we got to watch the gorgeous Tuscan countryside as we went by.
Florence was a beautiful city, and I would love to go back someday to see all of the art museums that we missed. It truly in a Renaissance City, and I hope that you all get to see it someday!

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