Thursday, March 27, 2014

Second Stop in Italy: Florence

Early on Monday, March 10th, my mom and I packed our bags and dragged them to Roma Termini. We were en route to Florence. We arrived in the ever so charming Firenze after a pleasant ride through the countryside. I immediately felt the differences between Rome and Florence as soon as I stepped outside of the train station. Florence was more relaxed and quaint compared to the busy, hectic, and huge Rome. After finally finding our hotel, Hotel Pendini, inbetween Dolce & Gabbana and the Ferrari Store, we relaxed a bit and enjoyed our view of Piazza della Repubblica from our window.

Our hotel room at Hotel Pendini 
Our view of Piazza della Repubblica
The hotel was in the arch. Our room was on the right somewhere.
We became ravenous after a while and decided to go for a walk around the city and find food. We winded through the small streets and admired the shops and window displays, until my mom decided to stop in front of a tattoo parlor. I had been looking for a new nose stud because my jewel had fallen off of my current one. We found my new stud inside of the shop, and she felt so cool because she was the one that found it. My mom also got excited because that was her first time in a tattoo parlor. I'm still laughing about it as I write this. Eventually, we found a tiny cafe and each had a panini, cappuccino, and cannoli. You're supposed to eat and drink your way through Italy, and that is exactly what we did. 

After lunch, we worked our way towards Piazza Santa Croce to redeem our free gelato coupon from Vivoli, a famous gelato shop. I saw this structure as we approached the square,  and I was a slightly perplexed.

Piazza Santa Croce
It definitely looked like a church because of the crosses on the top, but there was a large Magen David smack dab in the middle ... We walked into a leather shop right off of the square and asked a store owner. It was Basilica di Santa Croce. He said that the architect of the church was jewish and that was his stamp. He wanted to be buried inside of the church when he passed, but technically he was not allowed because of his religion. He is buried right in the doorway of the church. Half of his body is inside and the other half is out. Apparently, Michelangelo, Galileo, Dante, and Machiavelli are also buried in Santa Croce. I wanted to go inside, but we didn't end up doing so. Instead, my mom bought a leather purse from the store owner and we ate gelato. Vivoli was closed, so we went to another gelato shop.

From Santa Croce, we walked over to the Great Synagogue of Florence. It was closed for the day, but the exterior was stunning. We also took a stroll past the Duomo right before sunset.

The Great Synagogue of Florence
The Duomo before sunset
Such a colorful and beautiful building!
The sun shining on the Duomo
Dinner was next. We went to a restaurant called La Spada and drank wine and ate a caprese salad and ravioli with mushrooms in a truffle sauce. It was delightful. We sat next to a sweet couple from New Jersey, and the wife gave me her phone number if I ever need anything when I get to New York. We had tiramisu for dessert. It was very different than the tiramisu I had in Rome, although I think I liked both the same. The one in Rome had a high pudding consistency, while this one was more of what tiramisu is like in the States. After dinner, we went back to the hotel. My mom went to bed, and I met up with Jenn, Chris, and Wyatt at a bar.

Tuesday in Florence started off with a light breakfast and a tour. The tour took us up to Piazzale Michelangelo, where you can get a great panoramic view of Florence and see a bronze David replica.

The view of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo
Bronze replica of the David
Mom and the view of Florence
The next stop on the tour was the outside of the Duomo, and then we made our way to the Accademia to see the David. And let me tell you - the David was EPIC. You turn a corner and at the end of this long hallway is this giant, white, perfect sculpture glistening in the sunlight. The details such as the veins in his hands are incredible. As I said, perfect. Seeing the David was a big highlight for me.

After the tour, my mom and I met up with a high school friend of mine, Julia, who is studying abroad in Florence. We had a wonderful lunch and did lots of catching up. Then, we parted ways and we went to the Uffizi Gallery. It was a nice visit, but I was very tired and I truthfully don't remember much. It was a very large museum with lots of art. From there, we took a long walk around the city, crossed the Ponte Vecchio, and walked for a while on that side of Florence.

The Ponte Vecchio
The view of the river from the Ponte Vecchio
We had dinner at a restaurant recommended by Julia called Trattoria 4 Leoni and had the most incredible pear dish and house wine. The evening ended with gelato from Vivoli.

The final day in Florence consisted of me climbing to the top of the Duomo and buying a pair of black Italian leather boots in a shop nearby. Then, we boarded a train to Venice.

The view of Florence from the top of the Duomo
Me at the top of the Duomo
Gorgeous view
Florence was beautiful, and I want to go back someday!


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