Published: May 20th 2012May 19th 2012
The train from Venice to Florence (or "Firenze" if you want to be Italian about it) was lovely, though I had to sit cross-legged because my Pygmy legs couldn't reach the floor. Florence is a bit of a rude awakening of cars, Vespas and crowds after the relative peace of Venice. While we waited for our rooms to be ready we had a glass of perseco in the sweltering heat on the square by our hotel. I had to use a putty scraper to get my melted ass off my chair. As usual with scenic destinations, the prices were sky high, with each glass of perseco costing 9 euros. Our hotel is a place my parents had stayed on a preview trip, and it's a great central location and looks down into the square. The elevator is very small, like all the ones we've encountered, but this is my first experience with ones where you have to open and close its double set of doors yourself.
We went to za za for lunch, a place my parents had been before, and it was tasty. The whole lunch barely cost more than our three persecos.
Our first stop in florence
was the academia to see David. There are a lot of other things there too, but he's the reason to go. It was pretty spectacular to see him up close. I was astonished by the small details that make him look so lifelike, such as his toes being slightly deformed by the rocks beneath them, and spread out by his weight. The thing I loved best was that his right hand, which is below the level of his heart, has distended veins, and the left hand, which above the level of his heart, does not. I tried to capture a picture of this amazing achievement, and unfortunately right between his giant hands is his moderately giant weenie, so they all just look like weenie shots. Which, by the way, looks so lifelike it might start blowing in the breeze.
There are other works of art there, including some modern ones, one of which is a cracked glass floor in one of the rooms. I was wearing a pretty floaty skirt, and when I looked down at the mirror on the floor, I could see eeeeeverything. So then I had to crouch over, gather my skirt around my knees, clamp
my knees and ankles together and do the slow, crippled I-just-had-an-unintentional-bowel-movement shuffle out of there before some poor child asked his mommy why that lady had two baby belugas up the back of her dress.
Sadly, you can't take photos of the David, or anything else in the museum, all they have is this hideous painted one you can photograph. Happily, a decent replica stands in a square where David once did, and he takes a nice photograph. Oh yeah, and speaking of weenie shots, wasn't David Jewish? Discuss.
It started to rain, so we decided to go see a THE DOME. What is THE DOME?
It is defined thusly: The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (English: Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower) is the main church of Florence, Italy. The Duomo, as it is ordinarily called, was begun in 1296 in the Gothic style to the design of Arnolfo di Cambio and completed structurally in 1436 with the dome engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi. The planned octagonal dome is higher and wider than any that had ever been built, with no external buttresses to keep it from spreading and falling under its own weight. Brunelleschi
chose a double shell, made of sandstone and marble. Brunelleschi would have to build the dome out of bricks, due to its light weight compared to stone and easier to form, and with nothing under it during construction. Brunelleschi's solutions were ingenious. The spreading problem was solved by a set of four internal horizontal stone and iron chains, serving as barrel hoops, embedded within the inner dome: one each at the top and bottom, with the remaining two evenly spaced between them. A fifth chain, made of wood, was placed between the first and second of the stone chains. Since the dome was octagonal rather than round, a simple chain, squeezing the dome like a barrel hoop, would have put all its pressure on the eight corners of the dome. The chains needed to be rigid octagons, stiff enough to hold their shape, so as not to deform the dome as they held it together.
So the dome is incredibly significant historically and beautiful to look at. We can see it from our apartment.
It cost 8 euro to climb the dome, and there was a 10 minute line leading to a little door in the huge cathedral
where you go in. Immediately upon entering you are funneled into a narrow steep stone staircase. There is no information about whether or not the climb will be challenging, which is perhaps an oversight. If Hell were up, this would be how you get there. I absolutely loved it, these crazy narrow, incredibly steep endless twisting stairs up through the wall of the cathedral and then in the walls of the dome itself, but really, they should warn people. In a couple of tiny alcoves along the way overweight people wheezed and sweated profusely. My mother was convinced someone was going to shout, "is there are a doctor on the stairs?" and I would have to run to rescue someone having a heart attack. I'm glad it didn't happen, because there wouldn't have been a thing I could do to help. There were a couple of stops along the way, one at the first observation level in the dome, which was really cool but for the dirty plastic anti-suicide barrier they've put up. I guess a few too many people in the past couldn't handle how much farther they had to go to get to the top and decided to
View from the top of the dome
See the square with the big gold colored building? I'm writing this in the top right window of the building to its left
end it all. From the observation deck it's back into the walls like so many fat sweating ants. Then it got interesting, because it gets really steep, and there's a span where you have of share with the people coming down, which is hard because the stairs are only one person wide. The second inside observation deck shows you just how far you've climbed. Then it's the push to the summit, hoping your brain doesn't hemorrhage from the altitude. Theres only one little trap door with a ladder leading to the top observation deck, which also has to shared with people going down. The view from above was fantastic and well worth the climb.
Going back down was just like going up, but took longer, somehow.
We went back to our hotel after that (well, after a gelato obviously. Or in my father's case, an accidental sorbet. He's had bad luck choosing gelato the last couple of days), and I bought the 5 euro wireless access which has been pretty spotty so far. We had naps, then went out to a delicious dinner at Cammilo, which is family style restaurant. Their butter with homemade fettuccine and fresh peas
Rape of the Sabine against the night sky
This statue is famous for having no best viewing angle
was to die for. Tiramisu was delicious.
Last thing of the day was a night walk, which was lovely as the city is very well lit.
Currently, since it's Saturday night, there is some sort of party raging in the square below us, and though our shutters are well soundproofed I can hear the faints strains of an Italian accented voice singing "summer lovin'" from Greese.
Tomorrow's forecast is for rain, museums and food, with a 82% chance of gelato.
There are more photos below