Published: February 20th 2005February 20th 2005
"Excuse me, could you please remove that from my head?"
The religious right would have a field day with statues like this in the States.
So, I thought I was going to get some sleep… 5am rolled around, and I was wide awake!! How was this possible? I’d been up for a day and a half, and I’m wide awake after 5 hours sleep? Hell, if I could do this back home, I’d be alright. Still dark outside, everyone else still asleep, and probably will be for hours to come. Ali doesn’t have any time differences to deal with, and since I’m not in a Hostel, I know I’ll be on my own here. Whatever… I figure it’s a good time to walk aimlessly around the apartment, take a few totally miscellaneous pictures, and find something to do. GO FOR A WALK! Of course! As I look at the door, I’m totally lost already! The lock was this huge contraption that bolted every which way you could imagine, and the key, well, what the hell kind of key fits such a lock? Maybe the door will just shut behind me and I don’t have to lock it… no such luck. I finally find the keys. The key to the front door is obvious as I’ve never seen anything like it before. I figure out the front
Spy Shot 1
One of my spy shots in the no cameras allowed Basilica. The architectural differences between Florence, Venice and Rome are amazing, and show the many different influences in those areas.
door, make my way downstairs and find the front door to the building requires a key to get back in. So before I step out, I figure I’ll make sure I have the right key to get back in. I start with a few keys, none fit, so I look for a smaller one… ahh, there’s one that fits. Turn… BREAK! Shit! The key was obviously not the right one, and broke off in the lock. I couldn’t get the left over key out. People were starting to make their way out, so now I worry they won’t be able to get back in! So I propped the door open with a phone book, run upstairs in an attempt to find some pliers. No such luck. I found tweezers, but they don’t grab tight enough. Key still stuck. By this time it was obvious people were leaving the building, and worried someone might not realize the lock is screwed, I flipped through my Berlitz book and find the word for “Broken” and apply a sign to both sides of the door and wait the rest of the morning out in the apartment.
Giovanni awoke first, and I asked him
Spy Shot 2
Another underarmed shot.
with a mix of English and phrase book Italian for pliers. He understands a lot more than he speaks… but for someone with casual English skills, I’m sure “Pliers” don’t mean much. He got what I was talking about, and pulled a toolkit out of nowhere, but no pliers. We found something else that should work, and I rushed down to fix the door… it’d already been fixed! Phew! I headed back upstairs, recounted the story to Sam and Ali, to lots of laughs, and found that I broke Giovanni’s mailbox key! : ( Man, I already felt bad, but a mail key!! That sucks! SO SORRY Giovanni!!!
So, now it was daylight, I was greeted with this bright white glare from outside. Snow! It was coming down pretty hard. What a novelty for me, coming from Vegas, seeing snow fall is a wondrous event. Granted, I’d grown up with it every year in England, but that was a long time ago, and now it was a treat rather than something that just happened. Looking outside, I could hardly make out Samantha’s car… everything was covered. Today we were off to Florence, or Firenze as it was cryptically named
Santa Maria Novella Basilica
This is where I took aforementioned spy shots. Sorry, I did buy postcards later to ease the guilt.
on everything Italian. Why the hell do we call it Florence then, if it’s actually Firenze?? I think the plan was to drive out there, but due to the weather, the train was now the better option. We drove into Bologna, and caught the train from there. The station seemed like a horrifying experience as Sam was going on and on with the guy at the ticket counter. Buying a return ticket in advance doesn’t seem like the hottest idea after this. And after future treks, with no language skills, going to the counter was an even more horrifying thought. We left the counter with tickets to Florence, with about 30 minutes to spare. Off to drink some Cappuccinos while waiting for the train. Always Cappuccinos, everywhere, all the time. Considering I’d never really drank them before, I was starting to get accustomed to it… after one day. By the time we boarded the train, all the seats were already gone, so we got to sit in the passageways outside the cabins that were reminiscent of scenes from Euro Trip and getting molested by crazy Italian men saying “Me Scuzi, Me Scuzi!”. The passageways had small single flip down seats,
Sorry for the crap picture, but it seems to be the only one I took. Communist graffiti and posters were very prevalent in many of the major cities, especially up north. This was my first exposure to anything like it. I was fascinated. Bringing it up to Samantha, she hadn't realized how much of the graffiti around was actually political.
with virtually no room for people to pass. This was one of the few trips I’d take where someone actually came and checked tickets. If only I could predict when they would check and when they wouldn’t, I could’ve saved a bundle. Alas, the fines for not having a ticket hardly make it worthwhile.
This was one of the first trains of any consequence I’d taken in years! We just don’t have trains in Vegas. From the number of tunnels we went through, I noticed the Italians don’t like to go over or around things, instead they just blow holes through hills and mountains. Watching the countryside go by, blanketed in white was beautiful. Then, we went through a rather long tunnel, and when we got to the other side, the snow was gone… completely. Not long after, we were in Florence.
Florence was a beautiful city, despite the shit weather. I experienced my first Basilica, which emptied my pocket of a whopping 2 or 3 Euros, but presented me with a very well kept piece of history. Photos were not allowed, but since I have such a small camera, I adjusted some settings, turned off the flash
Random Japanese Tourists
Just because they were EVERYWHERE! There were so many Japanese tourists in Italy, I thought I was in the wrong country.
and managed a few shots. Sadly they didn’t come out as well as expected, but what do you expect for some underarm specials?? I’m far from a religious man, but the scenes presented in the Basilicas around Italy had me in a trance. The paintings, the frescos, the statues, sculptures, all amazing… taking in such sites as The Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio, the Basilica of San Lorenzo and San Miniato Al Monte, and much more. Amazing, even in the bitter cold. Ahhh yes, the bitter cold. Ali was freezing, so was I come to think of it, but I couldn’t let on. He was visiting from Hungary, me from Vegas, he better not be cold! But he was, and it was the start of me giving him shit for the whole trip. We stopped to get a bite to eat at a small café. Ali managed to pull off some Italian using his past Spanish skills (bastard), and I was left pointing at what I wanted. We took our sandwiches outside and sat in a small plaza by the market to eat. The food was good, and Ali was entertaining as he chased and yelled at the pigeons like a demented
Where's the donuts?
Loads of Police, everywhere, in every city! Impressive presence.
madman as they tried to sneak up on our food.
After more walking around, we headed back to the station, and find that Sam & Giovanni didn’t actually have return tickets. So we had to wait another hour or so for the next train. A good time for a beer. Everything appeared to be closed, except for, of course, an Irish Pub. GREAT! Every country I end up in (all 2 so far), I wind up in an Irish pub! Something not right about that. Had a drink and chatted for a while before making our way back to the station, and finding seats! I was out like a light in no time. When we arrived in Bologna, it was still snowing… but I don’t think any of us cared anymore, getting home out of the cold, eating and drinking some vino, and talking more was all we could think about… and that’s just what we did.
Oh, I forgot (thanks Ali)... when we got back to Giovanni and Sams place, there was a sign on the door written in Italian (of course) that said "Fixed!", on the inside of the door was another sign that translated said
Giovanni in Pain?
I think his hands are on fire!! Oh wait, those are some crazy glove type things. It looks like he's practicing for a Budweiser commercial! "Waassssuuuupppp!!!" I have NO idea what Sam is looking at.
"The door is fixed, who's the asshole that broke it?". hahahah Making friends already!
What did we miss today? Michelangelo's David is in FLORENCE?!?!?! Shit! Must’ve been that 2-3 hour line we saw outside one of the buildings. I’ll say hi to David next time.
There are more photos below