So… that about sums up how I feel right now.
It’s been forever since I last blogged. I know. Everything has been moving so fast and we’ve done so much with little time to rest, so this is my best recollection of everything that’s happened.
This past weekend we too a trip to Florence. It was AMAZING. First I’m going to list a few things that make it different than Rome…
1. It’s much cleaner.
2. There are traffic laws that people actually follow.
3. More tourists, less locals. In Rome, locals and tourists are more evenly mixed, but in Florence it is mostly tourists.
4. Because of the rise of the tourists population, there is also a rise in prices. Everything is more expensive, and there are more vendors setting up everywhere.
5. Things are catered more towards tourists. (more english, more people speaking english)
6. More ART! I feel like the things we’ve seen in Rome is more about architecture. For example, the Colosseum and the Forum (aside from the beautiful ceilings). But being in Florence was like being in New York – so many art museums and rich art history.
7. Considering that Florence is famous for the leather, there are leather shops on every block, sometimes five. There are several shops that have bags that are literally handmade, like their workshop is also where you check out. As your browsing, he’s sitting there working on another creation. Which is pretty cool.
Florence left me with tired feet, weary eyes, and a joyful heart. On Friday, we got these passes that gave us access to around 50 of the museums around the city. Believe me, we got our money’s worth. Friday afternoon we went to the Basilica Santa Maria Croce which is where Michelangelo’s tomb is located. Later that night a few of us had plans to meet back up at the bell tower of the Palazzo Vecchio and climb the steps to the top for the amazing view. But there apparently was a movie being shot at the top. Rumor has it that it was Donte’s Inferno, which is pretty cool. However, we couldn’t climb the tower that night. On Saturday, we were going for 14 hours straight. We woke up early and went to the Uffizi gallery. It’s like the Italian Louvre, except not as big. It contains several famous pieces of work from European artists. Although we were only familiar with the ones that are popular in America, it was still awesome to see amazing works of art. The high points of the tour were…
The Birth of Venus – Botticilli
Venus of Urbino – Titan
Sacrifice of Isaac – Caravaggio
Medusa – Caravaggio
Lacoon’ – Bandinelli (copy of Lacoon and His Sons)
And several others, but those were the most recognized. After a few hours of admiring the greats, we moved on to the chapel/tomb of the Medecci family. This was the most powerful and wealthy family in Italy. They were so rich that one day the wife decided she was bored with their palace and wanted a new one. So her husband built her a new one. Which is crazy. This was the Palazzo Vecchio (old palace) bell tower that we tried to climb on Friday. Anyways.. Their chapel was the most impressive room I had seen. It was made of complete marble. What made it so different from every other marble room, was one.. It was completely marble. Two, it’s was huge. Three, it was dark green and dark red marble instead of white. Consuela said that this room was even too expensive for this wealthy family to afford. Much of the marble was imported and recycled, and it was thinner than normal. But it was still an amazing room. After that we went to the Galleria de Acadamia to see Michelangelo’s David, his most famous work of art. What makes this sculpture so cool to me is how he is depicting David He has just decided to fight Goliath, but the battle hasn’t taken place yet. He is in a moment between choice and action.
That afternoon, after fueling up with lunch, we decided to climb the bell tower of the Florence Cathedral. FOUR HUNDRED AND THIRTEEN steps to the top, and it was so worth it. Compared to the view of Verona, there was much more to see. The river winding through the array of domes and rooftops was so scenic. After catching my breath and wiping the sweat from my face, it was time to go back down. My legs were shaking, but I was satisfied.
That night we went back to the Palazzo Vecchio to finally climb the bell tower. Two in one day… TWO. We had a few hours to rest our legs between, but we were determined. After only two hundred steps (child’s play) we reached a new height with a new view. After climbing back down, we got to go through the rooms of the Palace. The wealth of this family was extremely eminent in every room we walked in. After finally making it back to the hotel, we were so tired. Climbing two flights of stairs will do that to you.
The next day we went to a few museums and then left for the train station. Once we got there, we found out that our trains had not only been delayed, but one of them had ben cancelled. Everyone made it back in one piece, but it was a very stressful situation. Everyone looked so pitiful sitting on the nasty train station floor.
Since that weekend, I’ve been trying to recover. We’ve been going non-stop to museums and historical sites. As much as I love it, it’s worn me out. One night, my drawing class got together and walked to a park on a hill that overlooks all of Rome. We brought beer and played music and just enjoyed where we were and the opportunity to sit on a hill and draw the amazing landscape. It was also nice to finally have some relief from the extreme heat. I didn’t realize how much air conditioning made a difference. This whole week has been in the 90’s, which doesn’t seem like a big deal. But when the ONLY relief is when you take a cold shower, it’s miserable. Which is another thing that has worn me out.
But the time I’ve spent here has been amazing. It’s hard to believe we’re already halfway through the month. To be honest, I’ve gotten a little homesick at times. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that I speak no Italian, but even the simple task of grocery shopping was difficult. I have no idea what I end up with. For a little over a week I was washing my clothes with fabric softener if that tells you anything. But other than small frustrations, Italy is great.
I’ll be sure to not check out for so long next time. I’m off to rest and pack for Venice this weekend!