Florence Part 1

I spent six nights in Florence, meaning there is no singular good way to write about the city as it was all awesome.  So for lack of any better way to do it, Part 1 is everything not related to a church and Part 2 is everything else.

Getting to Florence was a bit exciting as I learned in the train station in Rome that my bank had decided to hold my card, as apparently when you get to ten countries they start to wonder if you’re really traveling the world.  Then to continue the strain of events that were entertaining but not in a way I prefer the train to Florence broke down, and it took a few more misadventures involving a helpful Italian student and a traveling Indian couple before I finally made it to my final destination.

Within five minutes of arriving in Florence, however, it became obvious to me that I would not leave the city until I absolutely had to.  I was enchanted by its beauty and history and culture, something to be expected when you consider yourself to be a Renaissance woman I guess but there you are-

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One of the reasons I liked Florence right off, it must be said, is because the Hostel Archi Rossi where I stayed was so nice- for 20 Euro in addition to the bed there was a breakfast (good breakfast mind, ie with omlettes on the menu), pizza or pasta for dinner, and free walking tours of the city each morning.  How they stay in business is beyond me… This is the guide on the walking tour I did the first day in the city, discussing the famous golden doors on the Duomo baptistry.

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The Medici palace, ie ruling family of Florence during their heyday and whom I decided I wouldn’t mind being a member of in the grand scheme of things (as you could casually refer to your favorite Boticelli when visiting your second-largest Tuscan villa or what not).  I also liked their palace because nowadays everyone just hangs out in the front of it chilling or sunning themselves, so I took a light nap here for two hours.  Quite nice indeed.

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The famous Ponte Veccio over the Arno River, connecting the Uffizi Gallery to the Medici palace (which is in turn connected to the Florentine town hall, lest the Medici rulers need to venture outside in bad weather).  You can’t really tell it’s a bridge while on it due to all the shops lining it, save in the very middle.

And a word about the Uffizi before I forget (and seeing the famous David statue whilst at the Academia)- you need to trust me that these are all incredibly lovely but you aren’t allowed to take pictures of any of them.  So I will just conclude by saying if you ever want to get tired of looking at Michelangelos and da Vincis and whatever else, come to Florence.kep-003

Back to the Ponte Veccio this is what you find all the stores are- jewelry shop after jewelry shop.  If you are a female you spend an inordinate amount of time crossing this bridge as a rule, meaning I always felt sorry for the gaggle of husbands waiting on either side for their wives to cross (though I suppose not as sorry as you feel for the ones being dragged into the stores to empty their wallets!).

The girl in this picture is Laura, one of two American students studying abroad in Spain who I became friends with.  Laura and Christina were a bit impressed by my travels (as I am a frood who always knows where her towel is) and I was doubly impressed with their close touch to what people in civilized society do.  I mean whoa, girls actually wear makeup and put on a different top when they go out at night?!kep-015

“Duff beer for me, Duff beer for you, I’ll have a Duff, you have one too!”

You’d think the wine would have clinched this spot but no, my greatest alcoholic discovery in Italy was the fact that they had Duff beer (a la The Simpsons) in Florence.  Turns out it’s Belgian.kep-016As a final thing, here is the City Hall of Florence lit up at night.  The reason I have this picture here is because this past weekend was a worldwide event called “100 Hours of Astronomy” urging as many people as possible to look into a telescope, and a few local astronomers set up here in the main square.  I went for a little while to help out and to get a few nice glances of the Moon and Saturn (too bright in the main square to see much else), which was fun because I haven’t done much astronomy while on the road obviously.

And then because this is Italy and because the astronomers vouched for him, I got a ride home from a long-haired Italian named Antonio on his Vespa.  Yes, this description could not have been more stereotypical but there are some stereotypes that are too good to mess with, and riding through the streets of Florence on a Vespa is one of them!

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