Thursday, March 22, 2012

Italy Day 3: Florence

On day 3, we took the train from Venice to Florence. Because it was only 1 kilometer (less than a mile) from the train station to our hotel, we decided to walk--bags and all. That turned out to be a terrible decision given the time of day and the weather, although we were not aware of either of these unfortunate circumstances. Because it was the middle of the day, the sidewalks were teeming with locals going to work, eating lunch, and selling their wares. As the sidewalks are extremely narrow, we caught more than a few dirty looks, so by the time we reached the street our hotel was on, we were very excited. However, our excitement was not to last, as the skies opened up about 3 blocks from the hotel, and we were literally soaked by the time we reached the hotel lobby. We weren't allowed to check in for 2 more hours, so I tried to dry off in the restroom and generally sulked about my hair, soaked-through clothes, and wet shoes. After about an hour, it stopped raining and we walked to Mercato Centrale to grab a sandwich at this place I had heard about through TripAdvisor, called Nerbone. (Side note: TripAdvisor has never steered me wrong, and especially on this trip, it has been clutch.)

 (Photo arthurhungry.com)

We ordered paninos con bollito, bagnato, which was essentially the best and freshest roast beef au jus in the world. They had some crazy hot sauces they put on there too, which lit me up, but JC rather enjoyed. Even though they were just sandwiches, JC and I agreed they may have been one of the best things we have eaten on the trip so far.

After eating lunch, we left the market and immediately entered the San Lorenzo Leather Market. This place was absolutely made for me, as I love leather, I love outdoor markets, and I love bargaining. We bought some souvenirs for ourselves and other people, including an incredible coral-colored bag for myself, several beautiful leather notebooks with Florentine paper, a wallet for JC, and a few other items.


At that point, it was check-in time, so we headed back to the hotel. We ended up with this beautiful room on the top floor with an even more beautiful view.


 

Yes, that is the Italian countryside to one side and Brunelleschi's Dome on top of the Duomo to the other side. We ended up sitting out on the balcony every night staring at that incredible view.

After snapping a few pics, we left to go to the Duomo.



 The exterior is truly stunning (well, Rick Steves doesn't seem to think so, but I do). And the views are to die for...

 View of the Giotto's Campanile from the top of the dome.






... but the inside of the church is really quite disappointing when compared to other churches. It is very bare with not much art. It does have some great stained glass, some pretty marble floors,  and the "Last Judgment" painted on the inside of the dome was nice, but overall the inside was nothing grand. It would be considered a gorgeous work of art if it were in the U.S., since most of our buildings are little brick squares thrown together without much thought, but in a country that has San Marco, the Vatican, and others, the interior of the Duomo seems kind of sad. (JC actually called it "weak sauce".)




Next we walked down to the Ponte Vecchio. This bridge has been around since the Medici family was ruling the city, and it has narrowly escaped several catastrophes. When the Nazis conquered the city during WWII, they blew up all the other bridges in the city so that no one could catch them as they fled Florence. However, the commander ignored the orders to destroy Ponte Vecchio, as he thought it too beautiful. I guess even some Nazis could appreciate beauty.





When we got to the river, an 8 was just pushing off the dock for practice. We watched them row for a while before crossing the bridge to go to a restaurant we had picked out for dinner. However, we never could find it, nor could we find the second place we tried to go to, so we wandered back to Piazza della Signora, where we had been earlier.

 Statute of Neptune in Piazza della Signora. I think the fountain is quite beautiful, but most Florentines at the time hated it, calling it "The White Giant".


 That stupid crane really ruined this picture.

I was so disappointed about dinner that as we walked back, I said, "I don't even care what we eat. If I could find a McDonald's, I would probably even eat there." Not 2 steps later, JC said, "Looks like you got your wish." However, neither of us really wanted to eat there, so we ended up settling for a mediocre sandwich shop (this is what happens when you don't check TripAdvisor first!). But the gelato we ate at Gelateria dei Neri really made up for that. It was honestly the best gelato we've had on this trip, and I can't see how it could be beaten. Yum!

1 comment:

  1. I think the architecture inside the church is really beautiful, even if it is "weak sauce." :) And I agree that Neptune is very beautiful. I like that fountain quite a lot, and if you don't have access to Photoshop, I can totally take out the offending crane.

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