Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Honeymoon Part 3, Florence

Read Part 1 and Part 2

After Amalfi we took another terrifying bus ride back to the train station to get to Florence. Everyone I knew who had been to Italy had said that Florence was their favorite city and I can see why. One of the first things we saw was the beautiful duomo and this picture was the view from the front door of our apartment building.
Our apartment in Florence was very authentic. It was on the second floor and we had to walk through about 4 locked doors to get into it. It was a studio but it had wood floors, high ceilings, and old furniture. It also had a terrace with roses that was bigger than the apartment itself, amazing!

The great thing about Florence is that you could see the whole city on foot and in about 2 hours. The first day we spent just walking around and taking in the sights. Like the Ponte Vechio.

Carousel in one of the many squares

These sidewalk artists draw amazing works of art in chalk on the sidewalk everyday. Every night the street sweepers come by and clean it and the next day there they are again repainting.
The next day we went the Pitti Palace which is the former home of the Medici family. There was a costume museum there which I loved. Historical dress fascinates me. They seem so intricate and beautiful compared to today's dressing standards. They also had clothing that the mother and son of the family were buried in. The mother had caught what they believed to be tuberculosis and died suddenly. As you know this disease was very contagious so she was hastily dressed and prepared for burial. They showed what she had been wearing and how her corsets and garments had been laced improperly or been put on backwards. She was also buried in her everyday clothing instead of the more formal garb that royals were traditionally buried in. Her young son died shortly thereafter but I don't remember from what. Can you tell I love stuff like this? History of costume was one of my favorite classes in college.

There was also an expansive garden on the grounds called Giardino de Bambini or "Children's Garden" I believe. I was expecting a lot of flowers but it was mainly grassy areas so I was sort of dissapointed. Maybe it just wasn't in season that time of year (May).

There was an amazing view though
We also went to a gallery that housed the Statue of David. I could see why it is such an amazing piece of art. It was carved from one piece of marble that a church had just sitting outside in the weather. They also say the proportions match almost the exact proportions of the human body. They don't let you take pictures inside the museum but we did see an exact replica in one of the squares, close enough I guess.

Then we took a bus ride out to visit Pisa. On the way we drove by the ancient Roman Aqueducts that are still standing. I wish they would've stopped for us to see them up close. It's crazy to think that people in Europe just pass by ancient pieces of art and architecture everyday. The highway that people probably ride on to get to work just goes right by the aqueducts. It's this kind of thing that makes America feel so young and... so boring. One thing about Pisa though, the only thing in this town is the church with the leaning tower and a bunch of souvenir stands, that's it. So if you're planning on going there don't plan to spend the day or anything it's a 3 or 4 hour excursion from Florence and back tops, just an fyi.

There were a lot of people in this area doing the whole look like you're leaning against the tower picture thing
The inside of the church is very beautiful. At one point in time the church had no roof and the Medici family donated this vaulted cieling with 24 carat gold inlaid into it. There was also a dead guy in a box, I forget his name...

Interesting tidbit: they don't actually know who was the architect for the tower. It was such an embarassment that no one wanted to claim it. The tower also had two architects. After the first few floors were built and the tower started to lean the project was abandoned. Then, another brave architect thought he could correct it and finished the tower although it still leans. That is why the tower has a slight banana shape to it.

The next day we had a bicycle tour through the Tuscan countryside that we booked on expedia. If you are planning on going I highly recommend this tour. It was one our favorite things we did not just in Florence but in all of Italy. Not for the light of heart it was an 8 hour bicycle tour through the meandering hills of Tuscany. I think we rode about 15 miles that day and all but the last hour was uphill. There are frequent water breaks for rest and sightseeing though. Our first destination was to the hilltop town of Fiesole where we got some amazing pictures.

This is someone's awesome pool overlooking Florence

The view from Fiesole

Then we rode to a little cafe for lunch with locally produced wine, olive oil, and ingrediants. Very delicious! Afterwards we stopped at the vineyard where our lunch came from for a tour and wine tasting, very cool!

House on the vineyard

We got to sample wine and olive oil straight from the clay pots they keep them in. The oil was so unique, it had a certain zest to it that tickled the back of your throat.

Our tour guide was an American who had been living there for a few years which was nice. Obviously, I don't have to say how good all the food was but by this time there was one thing we were desperately needing, breakfast! And I don't mean some croissants and a cappucino, we wanted a real American breakfast with french toast (some fuckin french toast, 40 year old virgin anyone?), and pancakes, and potatoes, and some orange juice that while good you didn't have to chew. This is my only complaint about the food, there I said it. Luckily our guide told us about an "American Diner" that served such delicacies, we went that very night. We ordered so much food I wish I had a photo, it was ridiculous!

Also, even though our apartment was in a great location by the duomo the problem with it was it was by the duomo. Which meant church bells, every 15 minutes, as loudly as possible, and starting at 7:30 am. Oh well, who wants to spend their vacation sleeping all day anyways.
If you have any fond memories of any of your trips please share in the comments. I would love to hear!
Stay tuned for the final installment, Part 4 in Venice!

1 comment:

Fira Saturn said...

Such great shots! Did they pee in public on on the sides of buildings like Parisians do?