The Original Raphael, Michaelangelo, Leonardo & Donatello in Florence
03.05.2010 - 03.08.2010
I would like to begin this blog with a moment of silence. I had typed an entire witty blog about our time in Florence and when I went to post it... the computer decided to freeze and everything was gone. I will try to be as big of a smart ass with this one as I was with the last.
We started our trip to Florence with impecable timing. We arrived at the Rome Termini (train station) without reservations. We had planned to wait 30 minutes to an hour for the appropriate train but managed to hop onto a train only 15 minutes later. Moments like this are always welcomed when travelling with 30 pound bags on our backs. After a short train ride, we arrived in Florence. We quickly found our hostel, dropped off our bags then went back to the station to catch a train to Pisa. Our timing, again, was perfect. We were able to get onto this train with only 7 minutes to spare.
Pisa was everything that we thought it was going to be. Basically, we walked 1.5km to the tower, snapped a couple of -hold the tower up- pictures, did some touristy shopping, peed at the nicest McDonalds I have ever seen, then walked the 1.5km back to the station.
On our way back to Florence we bunkered down for the hour train ride. With our own personal ipod soundtracks resonating in our ears, I noticed that an attractive train policia with an extremely slick pony tail and pinkie ring was issuing fines to people at the front of the car. We are novice train people and are still learning the details of our Eurail passes so I thought we were definitely in trouble. My heart was in my stomach as we reviewed our -guide to Eurailing book-. The policia, row by row moved toward us. Upon ariving at our row he glanced at our tickets, then smiled, winked and said caio.
After surveying our Florence hostel, we have decided that it's our favorite so far. There are interpretations of artistic renaissance masterpieces on most of the walls and between each of them are quotes, signatures and other scribbles from the previous tenants of the past 10 years. Cat found a signature from her home town and I was able to find a big Delta Gamma symbol. Such a small world. For you Utah people... It's like the Pie only on the white walls of a building 10x the size. We have yet to put our John Handcocks on the wall. Sharpies are harder to find here than you would think. The room that we are staying in is a huge 9 person dorm style room with a private bathroom and computer with free internet. Other fantastic things: a bedside shelf with your own outlet, free breakfast, free dinner, cheap snacks and wine and free guided walking tours. I bet that you think that we are sounding pretty cheap by now but hey... it's the little things that are going to keep us here for as long as possible and allow us to buy as many shoes and bags as possible when we finish up in Paris.
Our first evening in Florence we got into our jammies, had some home cooked pasta, drank some vino, said Konnichiwa to our 6 Japanese roommates and turned in early. I usually wake up earlier than Cat. It has been the trend that she sleeps on the top bunk. When I am in bed awake but, not ready to actually get out of bed, I just put my hands out in front of me and shake her matress. To signal that she got the memo she'll flop one arm down where I can see it to avoid a second shake. This prevents our hostelmates from hating us. Since most of them are 18 on spring break or studying abroad they already think that we are grandma's, we try to avoid their shear distain as much as possible.
Our second evening in Florence we were content to go to bed early again. We had even resorted to our sweats & hoodies when I made the genious offer to snap a picture of the four 18 year old Milan exchange students that had recently moved in and were having cocktails in our room. That opened the door to them thinking that it was okay to converse with us. There were 4 girls traveling together an American, English, Spanish/Catalunyan & Mexican. They kept inviting us to go out with them, we kept declining till finally we broke and agreed to join them for a night out in Florence. We left and wandered, thinking that they knew where they were going. They didn't. We got so frustrated with them that we said our goodbyes and went back to follow through with the initial plan of going to bed. At least made an effort to be social.
Free guided tours are hard to come by in Europe but, this hostel provides them every morning at 10:00am because they kick us out of our rooms for cleaning. Our guide's name was Francesca. She is an Italian woman that looks like she has indulged in too much pasta and too many cigarettes in her life. She was sporting the same yucky hack as I am but I blame hers on the 15 ciggs that she inhaled while on each 3 hour tour. The first day in Florence she showed us the first wine bar, Medici Family palaces, the birthplace of gelatto, the only bridge to not be destroyed by bombs in WWII, and my favorite... the church where Michaelangelo was sent to excersise his obvious talent at the age of 9. *FYI did you know that the Priests who looked over Michaelangelo exposed him to cadavers and nude models for study even though it was illegal at the time? Day 2 she relished us with her knowledge of the largest cathedral -Duomo-(means house of God in Latin), various Medici homes, the first public Library in the world, many original statues throughout the city and (our favorite) the grave of Dante's muse Beatrice. Still to this day people write love letters or questions about thier love lives on pieces of paper and drop into baskets by her tomb. It's basically making a wish for love and the hope that love is paradise.
The highlight of Florence was definitely seeing Michaelangelo's David. He was originally contracted to go atop the Duomo but after being sculpted from one piece of solid marble, they decided he was too big and too perfect to be up so high. After 5 years of construction, David was placed outside of the main Medici palace to signify how something small (David & Florence) could become great vs larger more powerful opponants, (Goliath & other Italian provinces). Anatomically he is perfect. Every detail was thought out and after meticulous study of him you would find that he is flawless. Truely amazing. I also made the decision while staring at the David that if I ever decide to get married... my husband is required to have a perfectly chisled ass, just like the David.
Florence is known for being the home of the Renaissance. Artists like Rafael, Brunelleschi, Da Vinci, Ghiberti and Michaelangelo have masterpieces everywhere you turn. I feel that the colors and history of Florence have changed my perspective on art, architecture and life all together. We leave for Venice tomorrow and I am sure that the romantic canals and history will rival what I have felt for Florence.
Aud (and Cat)