Published: March 2nd 2009March 1st 2009
This weekend I visited Florence. Luckily the weather was the nicest it has been since I have been here, with the exception of it raining on Sunday. Al, Jordan and I took a train from Termini an hour after classes ended on Friday and arrived in Florence a little after five. We checked into our hostel, which was at one point ranked seventh in the world. It was really clean and nice, the bathroom and beds were nicer than the one in my apartment. The guy there was also very knowledgeable of the area and willing to help. He suggested the best gelatteria and restaurant to us. Since there was only three of us but four beds in the hostel room, I was a little leary about who else would be with us. Luckily, it was just us for the first night. We walked around Florence at night, which is so beautiful. We walked around the town center and over the covered bridge. Since it still was pretty early (before dinner time) there was a lot of people out. Even though Italians don't eat dinner until around eight or later, we were starving and wanted to eat right away. We were
in the center of the city though so the prices were going to be higher than what the quality of the meal was worth, but it was ok. We settled on a place but when I went to go in, I saw they don't open until 7:30, so back to the drawing board. We found a Trattoria that we went to in the end and had a good but pricey dinner. We were told though later that in Florence a good place to eat usually requires a reservation. After that we returned to our hostel and passed out for the busy day ahead of us.
I woke up at nine and was ready to go see all of Florence. I had a quick breakfast, which was provided by the hostel, and we set off. The first place I went to was the Galleria Academia, which is where the statue of David is held. It was nice to see it again and I took my time to enjoy it. Alfred of course had to try to sneak in some pictures while we were there. Other than that, besides a few paintings and plaster models of statues, there was not much
else to see there. The building after all was build soley to hold the statue of David. It makes me mad to see, however, that some people actually carved their initials into the leg of David. A lot of people here don't have respect for all the art around them (hence all the graffiti on ancient monuments and buildings in general). From there, we walked around a piazza, and went to go inside this church, but a service was going on. So instead we went right next door into an archeological museum that had Etruscan, Greek and Egyptian artifacts. At first I was really angry because a large chunk of the Etruscan section was under construction so all the artifacts were covered up and sections were crossed off so I thought I got ripped off and would see anything. But it turns out that the museum opened up a lot more and there was a large amount of stuff to see. There was some interesting pottery by the Greeks and some Egyptian sarcophagus that were really interesting to see. Luckily we were allowed to take pictures as long as we did not use the flash.
From there we decided
it was time to make the descent up the Duomo. To get to the top of the Duomo (the Cupola), one has to climb up 463 stairs. It wasn't so bad at the beginning, but then the staircase turned into a dizzying and slightly more dangerous spiral staircase for majority of the climb up. The passages were also very narrow so it was an interesting ascent. But the view from the top of all of Florence was beautiful. Unfortunately it was a little hazy but the pictures still came out ok.
After grabbing a quick panino, we went into two more churches. It was weird to have to pay to go into the churches, since in Rome, all the churches are free. In one church, the entire interior was under reconstruction including the main alter, so I was very frustrated to pay five euros to see metal beams and a picture of what it will look like. Grr...
We had dinner reservations at 7:30 and Il Latini, which is a restaurant that is highly recommended for the dish Florence is famous for - bistecca Florentine. We got there and they just started asking us if we want wine,
water, appetizers, soups, pasta... just throwing out all these food options at us. We got a first dish (soup or pasta), a second dish which was the famous steak. It is a really thick T-bone part of the steak (2 inches) that is cooked on five minutes on each side and then along the bone for another five, so it is served really rare. We ordered a kilo of the steak for the three of us and all had side dishes of baked potatoes. Then we got a complementary after dinner wine that biscotti are dipped in and an after dinner sweet wine. The waiter also gave me a free bottle of the house wine when we were leaving. The atmosphere there was so great and the food was delicious. I thought the bill was going to be so expensive including all the food we had and the 2-L bottle of house wine that was on the table, but it was only 30 euro each, which was amazing! While we were in between the stages of the meals, an Italian guy sat down at our table, since we sat at one long table with other people. He sat right next
to Jordan and in the beginning it was kind of awkward. But towards the end of the meal, we felt more comfortable and tried to speak with him in Italian and English. He knew about as much English as I knew Italian, but we were able to have a long conversation with him about Sicilian foods, and his job and Florence, and how we were studying abroad and if he wanted to visit America. It was really nice. After dinner we went to the best place to buy gelatos, called Grom. It was really good because it used all organic foods and it tasted that way. It was delicious. We ate the gelati in the piazza of the Duomo, and while we were there, people where playing this drum and clapping and dancing in a big circle. So we watched them and Al even joined in on the dancing. It was so much fun!
The next day we were going to go to Pisa and before leaving we saw a place that had a sign saying American breakfast. Let me just leave it at that I now know the reason why Italians don't eat omelets for breakfast... Then we
took an hour train to Pisa. Unfortunately the weather was even worse than the last time I visited, so we took only a few pictures and then took the train back to Rome. It was nice though because I missed being in Rome and was happy to be back 'home.'
There are more photos below