So I arrived in Florence, knowing that this was where the renaissance began. The amount of artistic and scientific history that poured from this once small city of 60,000 shaped more of European history than any other. With that in mind, I was excited to walk the same streets as half the artists I can name, Galileo and the Medici family.
The first thing that I did after arriving was to fix with my tablet. For some reason it decided to die, causing me to lose all the pictures and a few blog drafts, putting me a bit behind. Fortunately I had also been toting around my actual camera and hadn’t actually lost any memories. This was the impetus that had me embrace technology, so now I have every photo taken automatically stored online to limit any losses. With everything back online I set out for a stroll down the Italian streets.
The town here was fantastic, and certainly filled with interesting places. There was a bridge that I crossed that brought me into the heart of the old town. It is the only bridge that survived WWII and maintains a unique look when compared to the replacements. From renaissance times up to today, this bridge has been lined with jewelers, peddling their wares.
Another of my stops was at one of the many piazzas, which in this case was adorned with marble sculptures. Most of this was genuine, though the one below was not. Having seen two perfect replicas of ‘David’, I could not have been asked to wait in line two hours just to see exactly three same thing in a different seeing. The original has a chipped toe, so for as far as I’m concerned this one was better!
My walk took me on a three hour loop through the city where I was able to soak in the atmosphere of the place. As the shadows grew longer, there were a number of street performers who began to emerge. One in particular was a violinist who played beautifully. Not sure if it was because he choose an Italian street as his concert hall, but the slow draws on the bow complemented the scene perfectly and stopped many a passerby in their tracks. After a couple songs I returned to my hostel for the rest of the evening.
This place was used as a convent for a couple centuries, but had been transformed to accommodate the budget minded backpacker about four decades ago. It certainly looked like a convent, with its vaulted ceilings and nonsensical floorplan. While there I met a couple interesting guys, one from Norway and the other a Brit. The Norwegian really reminded me of someone, and looked a bit like him too. We talked and made plans for the the of us to go to the Uffizi Gallery the next day.
That next day came and it was time for our walk through the art gallery, the most impressive collection of renaissance art in the world. Much of it had been curated and commissioned by the Medici family and now exists in this form as a museum. Before we could get in, we were forced to wait in line for about two hours, but whatever. I’m no art buff, but any trip to Florence wouldn’t be complete without at least some. Inside I saw the works of several well-known masters; Michaelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo, etc. The most well know piece that I saw was Botticelli’s ‘The Birth of Venus’.
The sheer volume of the paintings was a bit much for my level of interest, and it took over two hours to course the many corridors. We were starving by the time we saw the sun again, so after running a couple of errands we hit a supermarket to prepare a feast. We opted for a bit of pasta, being Italy and all, but I contributed a container of vanilla pistachio ice cream. I bought a small brick of what I assumed to be cheese, but retched and gagged when I realized it was actually a yeast culture that I had bitten into.
That evening we all just chilled and had a good chinwag about this and that. There were a handful of cultures represented so the talks on politics and philosophy were very worthwhile. That night I had actually had made a booking at another hostel so as to save two whole euros. While I wasn’t particularly excited about walking somewhere else, that two euro represented a tangible chunk of my daily budget. It wound up being good though, since they were having a sangria night. For about three hours the guy who ran the hostel kept a punchbowl of it bottomless and we partook. This promoted a good atmosphere for getting to know one another before migrating elsewhere.
The next morning I was off to Rome, but on the way I walked post the duomo one more time. I never paid to enter the church but it was impressive enough from the outside. The sheer size of it made framing a shot difficult.
Finally, on the way to the station I continued my pursuit of indulging in McDonalds all over the world by picking up the McToast. The meat cheese sandwich was great, or at least better than it looks.