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Published: November 20th 2006
My prohibited photo of David. He really is perfecto.
I really had the most fabulous time here in Florence. Unfortunately, I couldn't stay longer, but I know now what it has to offer and I'll definitely return, hopefully more than once. It's so much to tell you all. Where do I begin?
So as I was going to bed Thursday night, I introduced myself to another girl sleeping in the same big room. Her name was Ally and she said she was from Adelaide, Australia. We did the normal backpacker questions: how long have you been here, where are you from, where are you going next, etc etc. She too had just arrived that day and said she was going the next day to the Uffizi Gallery and to see Michaelangelo's David. She said I was welcome to come and that another Aussie named Rob was also going to tag along. We planned on meeting at breakfast at 9 and then start the long day.
I didn't sleep that well - I reckon mostly from pure excitement but also contributing to my tossing and turning was probably the fact that I was on a slim bunk bed with no guard rail. I
Hostel Archi Rossi
What the terrace looks like
was quite scared of rolling off, but I survived the night, showered in the morning and enjoyed my free breakfast in the company of Ally. Scrambled eggs, two pieces of toast, some orange juice and a table of other pickings including pasta, sliced fruit and a delicious spiced raisin cake. Rob was going to wait for us as we went to see David because he had already been there - seeing as he was in Florence for already 4 days.
So Ally and I were off around 9:30 and were prepared to wait in the horrendous lines that everybody talks about to see David. We found the Accademia and were really confused...no lines!? We literally walked up to the counter, but a ticket and smiled at eachother: off-peak season rocks.
I didn't know anything about the museum where David was and was surprised to see a lot of other pieces of artwork. We saw a LOT of religious gold leaf art. Pretty much every piece of artwork had Mary, angels, John the Baptist (man who baptized baby Jesus) who is depicted in all the paintings with a hairy shirt. It was pretty spectacular but I think that those
who know more stories from the Bible would be able to interpret what was really happening in the paintings.
As Ally and I turned the corner, there he was: Perfection (a.k.a. David). We were both wonderfully surprised at his size! He's 510 centimeters tall of pure white marble. Apparently he's perfectly proportional to a real human's measurements which is amazing because Michaelangelo carved David out of a random block of marble left in a piazza. How did he see David in a block of marble is quite amazing. Well, as we walked towards him, we whipped out our cameras. I knew it was bad to take a photo of paintings because camera flash exposure over time ruins the paint. But I thought, well David is marble and he was outside for years and years - how can a flash damage him? Ally and I both took one photo - It was supposed to be the first of a series - Including a zoomed photo of his bum. But then we heard "hey hey hey hey hey hey!!" A very angry looking Italian came up to us and said "no photo no photo!!"
They don't allow you to take
Lots of guys ask you, "Can I ask you a question?" or "Do you speak English?" to get your attention. This is also the best place to find genuine Italian leather goods for the cheapest price after bargaining
pictures of David!! How silly. Ally and I were pretty bummed (no pun intended, haha) about that, but we soaked in as much marble as we could and then left. On our way back we passed this wonderful looking cafe with cheap cappucinos and 90 cent delectible treats. We kept it in mind and came back to the hostel to pick up Rob.
A café break
We returned to the café, Rob had a panini and a latte, Ally had a latte and some chocolate mousse thing that was heavenly, and I had a cappucino and a berry ricotta tart. This is by far my favorite treat I've eaten here and I know my mom would have loved it. It was a small tart with a doughy crust. At the bottom was a dollop of berry jam and the rest of the tart was filled with sweet ricotta cheese. On top was slivered almonds that were lightly dusted with the finest powdered sugar. Heaven
. After resting our feet and filling our stomachs with only the best Italian treats, we were off to the Uffizi gallery.
The Uffizi Galleria
The three of us expected great long lines
Indoor food market
Lots of delicious looking things and also icky looking meat parts including sheep guts and gizzards. bleh
as well for the Uffizi, but luck was on our side and there was not a single person in line again!? November is really the best time to do all the museum viewing. A side note: people think that November is cold, but the weather was absolutely wonderful! It was about 18 degrees (that's about 67 degrees Fahrenheit...an estimate) and since there was no wind, I didn't even bother wearing a jacket the whole day.
We spent 3.5 hours in the Uffizi and we were walking pretty quickly, sometimes skipping some of the religious paintings. I know they're all different and I appreciate them, but I'm more of a fan of the later paintings. I really loved the Birth of Venus - that's the famous one where Venus (a.k.a. Aphrodite) is standing on a pink seashell. The three of us stood near a private tour that was going on, so we got to hear a lot of interesting facts.
The museum was not packed at all and I could stand right up close to the guardrail of each painting with nobody hovering over me. Going on at the time was this Leonardo da Vinci exhibit (which is why
Indoor food market
Fresh pasta, olive oils, dried fruits, nuts, spices. You name it
the ticket was another 3 euros on top of the regular price, but way worth it). The da Vinci exhibit was...there's no words to describe it. I think the word 'genius' is probably the closest, but this man was incredible. I saw original hand drawings on really think pieces of paper - what da Vinci thought the inside of a hand looked like with all the veins, muscles, etc etc. He was obsessed with horses and their movement. He was also really into perspective, the phenomena of sight and illusion. I can go on and on.
By the time we exited the Uffizi, it was about 4:30 and we were wondering what to do for dinner. We collectively came up with an idea to go to the supermarket and buy dinner there and climb to the top of a huge hill overlooking the city. At the supermarket we bought: pesto, fresh purplish olives, sundried tomatos, sliced cheese, a baguette and some sliced bread, 2 bottles of red wine (one Chianti, special for the Tuscany region and another bottle Rob had had before), some pruchetto meat for Ally and Rob, and Fonzies - these cheesy chip things
Indoor food market
continued. Everything looked good. Except for the butcher ones. =)
that the Aussies went crazy over. I guess they have the exact same thing but in Australia they call it Twisties and here it's Fonzies. We went to the 99 cent euro store and bought some paper cups and plates. Then we started on the hike across the city, over the river, and the big climb up the hill.
It was the pretties view of Florence! We could see the river, many church towers and the famous Duomo. We snacked and drank wine while sharing stories, laughing, and discussing the art of traveling. We all were lone travelers and had a lot to say about it. Reflecting upon my trip so far here I love traveling alone. I think I've learned more about myself here than I have in a few years. You learn to not depend on anybody to get you somewhere, it's all you and it's quite an amazing feeling. There are times when I just want to stop moving and sleep in my futon bed at home but 99% of the time I'm enjoying every minute of it. Even when things don't go as planned, it's only going to be a great story and you learn
One of the pasta places
They put Pinnochio on everything here. He's the biggest celeb after David
even more about yourself. I've learned so much and I haven't been on this trip for very long!
Anyway, between the three of us, we finished 2 bottles of red wine which meant a few things: extra laughing and fun picture taking. We spent about 3.5 hours up on the hill and then headed down back to the hostel. We didn't eat our baguette so it quickly became a make-shift jousting stick/sword and we laughed histerically as we ran after eachother each waving a piece of baguette at eachother and aimlessly throwing chunks of bread in the air. Ah, traveling.
Walking home, Ally desperately wanted to ride a bike, Rob and I were a bit confused about that, but we laughed and watched as Ally tried to find a bike that wasn't locked and take it for a loop around a piazza for fun. She did find one but it was super nice, so she just touched it and we kept walking. A couple seconds walk from the bike a guy comes running out of the store that the bike was in front of. "49 euros! 49 euros! Baci Baci!!" he calls back at us with a big
Ally, Rob and I feasted on some of this. Dried kiwi was amazing...not the dried kumquat
smile. I guess he wasn't too mad that we were going to take his bike for a spin. 'Baci' means kiss - and you hear it everywhere. The friendly guy let Ally ride up and down the sidewalk and after she got her fix, we laughed the whole way home at the funny experience.
On our way back to the hostel, we also picked up yet another bottle of red wine (another type of Chianti) and met up with other people in the hostel. We shared more stories while we sat out on the outdoor terrace. Concrete goddess statues, ivy, and yellowish-orange Italian buildings with green wooden shutters surrounded us.
Dominico, a guy that worked at the hostel said he would take a group of us out on the town because he could get into bars for free since he "knew people." That's really how it is here - if you know somebody who knows somebody, you're royalty in some cases. So a troop of us including Ally, Rob, other aussie girls and one californian girl followed Dominico around town.
We got into a bar that was buy one drink get the other one
A cosy ride
I don't think you can eat a lot of pasta if you want to squeeze yourself in this thing. So cute
free before midnight, so we had quite the fun ordering for eachother and barely spending any money. After that, we went to go dancing and I got a taste of how Italian guys are. Hm....definitely not cowardly like a lot of the Dutch boys. The Italians were gentlemen though and I didn't feel uncomfortable - plus Rob and Dominico were there to herd away the guys from us group of girls. haha.
After that, we went to another lounge to rest our feet and grab a glass of water, go to the bathroom, etc etc. By then it was 5am and we were all ready for bed. We returned to the hostel, brushed teeth, washed the smokey air off my face and crawled into bed, setting my cellphone alarm for 7am. Yep, that's 2 hours of sleep because Ally and I wanted to take the train to Pisa the next day to take photos of the tower and bum around.
It was a great evening and one that I surely will never forget. I'm sure I'm forgetting to mention a lot - it was a crazy day.
Look back at my previous blog because I posted photos
Resting the feet at the café
My delicious cappucino and ricotta tart with good company
from there including some great ones of my night walk with the Argentinian.
p.s. One thing I forgot to add. One great quote that was in the da Vinci exhibit:
Why does the eye see a thing more clearly in dreams than with the imagination awake?
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