Thursday, November 14, 2013

Culture and independence in Florence

Before I move on completely from the lovely city of Roma, I have to answer the all-important question: Rome...or Paris?

I've always wondered about this since hearing the phrase "Only Paris is worthy or Rome, and only Rome is worthy of Paris." So now that I've been to both, the verdict is in. And you all know I'm totally unbiased in every way, right?

Paris is better. 

But it's close! I think Paris is slightly more beautiful, and Rome is slightly more interesting. The tiebreaker is that Rome is much more crowded and a little dirtier. 

However, it's so close that I would totally accept it if someone else to come to different conclusion. I did LOVE the history in Rome, but there's something about the ambience of Paris that nothing else really compares to.

Speaking of ambience, the next city I went to was full of it. FLORENCE! I got there on Tuesday afternoon after taking the train from Rome.

Olimpia was originally going to come with me, but it didn't work out with her train ticket, so I unexpectedly ended up there alone. I also wasn't able to plan out what I was going to do there, because the internet in our Rome apartment pretty much stopped working.

Of course, I was supposed to have internet at my Florence hotel...but that didn't work either. So I went with a "wandering around" plan.

Thankfully, my hotel was right outside the Duomo, so I at least knew how to find one Florence landmark. Here's the view from the front door of my hotel.

Naturally, my first Florence activity was the Duomo! When you first you go inside, it doesn't look very impressive compared to the beautiful work of art that it the outside.

But as you keep walking, you see the lovely painted dome. It's not visible at all from the entrance.

*putting the duom in Duomo*

After enjoying the secret dome, I went back outside and walked around the whole church. 

One of my reasons for taking a lap around the church was that Jenna told me it was pretty easy to find all of the other main tourist sites from the Duomo. I couldn't find a map to buy, so I was just hoping for some helpful tourist signs to point me in the right direction. Luckily, I found a sign for the Galleria Accademia, which is one place I definitely wanted to visit.

The Galleria Accademia is the home of Michelangelo's David! There was no line for the museum, so that was nice. That for sure never happened in Rome. It's not a very big museum. It's mainly only famous for the David. No pictures allowed inside, but I'm guessing everyone knows what the David looks like. 

I'm glad I got to see it! You weren't allowed to get very close to the two other Michelangelo sculptures that I saw in Rome. This one I could get close enough to to actually see all of the details.

By the time I was done at the museum, it was dinner time and most of the sites in Florence were closing. So after I ate, I just went on a little walk and scouted out something to do the next day before my train left for Siena.

Here's what I found walking around!

Michelangelo nicknamed these doors to the Baptistry the "Doors of Paradise" because he thought they were beautiful enough to lead to paradise. They were carved by Ghiberti. More freshman Humanities knowledge :)

Piazza della Signoria:

Palazzo Vecchio:

Random street:

Santa Maria Novella:

Arno River:

Ponte Vecchio:

Uffizi Gallery:

After all of that culture, I found a McDonald's so I could use some wifi (see the irony there?).  I looked up which famous paintings they had at the Uffizi, and then I knew I had to go there the next morning. The museum opened at 10, so I went to go stand in line at 9:30. Bad idea.

There was already a long line there, but I figured that once it opened and they started letting people in, it would move pretty quickly. No. It did not happen that way. I got into the museum at 11:30, and by that time I only had about 45 minutes to spend there before I had to go catch my train. I'm still so glad I did it, though. I would have regretted not seeing some of these lovely paintings that I've studied!

Some of my favorites from the museum: 

Giotto's Ognissanti Madonna-

Da Vinci's Annunciation-

And Botticelli's Spring-

There were many more, of course. A lot that I've studied or heard of, and a lot that I'd never heard of but were amazing. The building itself was pretty beautiful as well. Good times.

Side note: there were a TON of museum guards at this place. One of my secret fears is that they sit there in their little chairs and their blazers and then judge people based on how long they stare at each painting. I kind of had to rush through the museum, and I felt like I kept getting judgey stares. They're probably these fancy art experts who enjoy laughing at tourists who don't seem to appreciate artwork for the proper amount of time. At least in my head that's how it happens.

At one point, I actually saw a museum guard leap into action. This baby tried to lunge out of its mother's arms and the mom came REALLY close to dropping her baby onto a Da Vinci painting. The guard lady actually screamed and flew out of her chair. And I still have no idea if she was concerned for the baby or the painting. Or both?

After my time at the Uffizi, my short little trip to Florence was over. I went to pick up my huge suitcase at the hotel, and then it was off to train station to meet up with Jenna!

My hotel deserves a special mention for a few reasons. It was the first time I stayed in a hotel alone, so that was exciting and a little weird. It was a cheap, tiny room in a centuries-old building.

The hotel is the tower part that's all in stone. It's only on the top two floors of the building, which meant I could either haul my suitcase up three flights of stairs on a little winding staircase with no lights, or I could brave this "elevator."

It was actually a pretty tough decision. I did eventually decide to risk my life on that elevator, and it ended up working out.

Anyways, I've pretty much decided already that I have to come back to Florence someday. There's a lot more to see and experience there!

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