Monday, April 25, 2011

Florence

Well, as you know, Florence started off as an adventure.  Of course, we all know I'm a little directionally challenged, so asking me to get to the Rome airport all the way to Florence without mishaps might've been a little overzealous.


So, I had my pizza. And my first caffeine in over 24 hours.  And the next day, I accidentally slept until 11. Serious oops!  This was Palm Sunday, and we decided to adventure around Florence.  We hiked up to the top of Piazza Michelangelo, a hill that has a great view of the entire city, the Medici corridor, the Arno, and the old Fort.  It was beautiful, and we did our first bit of "touristy" shopping- t-shirts and seriously tacky boxers. 
 See?  We found some even tackier ones later on in the trip, but those were not for purchasing- even tacky tourists have their limits!

We went over to the Duomo, took pictures, and avoided the sharp entrance fee by going to Palm Sunday Mass.  It was a beautiful service in Italian, but a little disappointing in that there was no singing and no ceremony with the palms or the blessing of the palms, though we were told they were blessed before we came in.  Kevin proved to be a bad Catholic as he didn't know how to take communion.  I guess he's not used to being spoon fed.  Too independent a man!

Here's a few shots of the view from Piazza Michelangelo.  Oh, we also saw our first fake David-- albeit a little weathered, he was still impressive looking.

The Arno and all the bridges connecting the two sides of Florence.
 The old fort.  We heard some horror stories about its walls.

We ordered in calzones that night, and as good as it was, it still made me miss the Charleston Famous Luna Rossa's calzones, and their fabulous cooks! ;)

The next day was Monday.  Jess had to go to class in the morning, so Kevin and I were on our own.  We walked along the Arno and down to Ponte Vecchio, which was beautiful, but sooo expensive.  You know those stores where you're afraid to even touch anything and it ruins the window shopping? Imagine a district where every single store is like that. 


It was so neat though...the village really looks like it could drop right off the bridge and into the river at any moment.  Kev got a couple of great pictures of the village and its colors (it looks a little like Rainbow Row at home), but I can't find it right now, so you'll have to dig for it on facebook.

From there, we wandered through the shops and streets on both sides of the river and found a new route to Santa Croce- right near Jess' school.  We checked out the street vendors and the progress of the TRL set-up for MTV's big final Italian appearance and concert Wednesday night in the Piazza.  Met up with Jess and set off to see Pinno, the sandwich man.  He hand-made FRESH, beautiful, tasty sandwiches.  Despite the fact that my Memaw said it looked alive, the sandwich was tasty and the portions were huge and less expensive than most things we found in Italy.  Of course, after another good Italian meal, we needed a good Italian dessert.  Jess took us to a great gelato/ dessert shop/ bakery/ candy shop, where we all tried a very tasty mini cannoli.  Because most of the museums were closed on Monday, we had to revise our plans.  We ditched the museum plans (except for the outdoor statue garden- fake David #2), and crammed in most of the vital sightseeing for the city that afternoon.  We went to an authentic butcher shop where we saw cow stomach linings on display in the window, Dante's home and church, the carousel, talked about the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy, and Jess and I got to shop and have a cappuccino for about an hour.  It was quality girl time, and I know Kevin enjoyed his break.  When we met up, it was time to try our first Italian beers and head to a wine tasting.  We got to drink our beers openly in the street- not even in a brown bag! I felt like such a rebel. 

The wine tasting was amazing.  There's simply no other way to describe it, as with many things we experienced in Italy.  Pinno and his translator were great, and we had a blast with each other and the others in our group.  The wine cellar is on the top 100 things for women to do in Firenze book.  We went and walked/ sat by the Arno and waited for our dinner reservation at a restaurant the locals loved- Dante's.  That was about the end of the night, as the wine tasting did us all in.  We were up early in the morning to see the REAL David, but the line was too long, so we headed to the train station and set off for Rome.

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