Weekend in Florence

I had written this blog last week, and as I wrote, I saved the draft multiple times. It even said, “Your draft has been saved.” However, when I closed the window and later opened it again, only the pictures were there. Nothing I had written had saved. 😦 😦 😦 I was a little sad because of that, so I must admit I have been putting off rewriting it. This procrastination thing should not come as a surprise to anyone who knows me. But I have begun to heal emotionally, and I am here rewriting my blog about last weekend, the weekend after fall break. I should then post the one for this past weekend soon. Here we go:

I stayed in Florence the weekend after fall break because I needed to rest from traveling, and I had yet to do much of the touristy things in my home city. Saturday morning, I got up early to meet my friend Maddie at the Accademia, the museum that houses Michelangelo’s David. Thankfully, tourist season is basically over, so the line was not terribly long right when it opened. Maddie got there earlier than me and was second in line. Actually, I was just late. Anyway, we go our tickets and headed straight for the room with the David. I expected him to be larger than life, maybe eight or ten feet high, but I was surprised at how MASSIVE he was. When you see him, you understand why he is one of the most famous masterpieces in the world. This sculpture is amazing. After taking a sculpture class this semester and attempting to carve marble, it amazes me even more at the skill and craft and manual labor that went into this piece. Let me tell you, it’s really hard to not break off your figure’s head. (I did that today, oops.)

While I was surprised at the size of the David, I was also surprised at how relatively small the rest of the museum is. It was still quite interesting, especially the room with all the plaster models used for other famous sculptures, such as the Rape of the Sabines. We got done there pretty quickly and went to get coffee.


   

As we were leaving the coffee shop,  we noticed that the road was blocked off to traffic and a cop was directing cars to go another way. We saw a large crowd of people on the road I take to get to class, so we decided to investigate. (Remember, this happened before the tragedy in Paris. I would not do this now.) There were people dressed in red and blue, waving flags around, and blowing whistles. My friend took a bunch of pictures for her photography class, and I waited at the edge of the crowd. There were even a couple of women dressed as robots. From what I could gather, these people were protesting their working conditions. The strange thing was that while they were clearly upset enough to protest about that, they were having a good time and enjoying themselves. People would smile and pose for the cameras. They did not seem very angry at that moment, as many people were smiling and laughing. That is why it took us a while to figure out that it was, in fact, a protest. I guess you don’t really get the full Italian experience if you don’t walk up on a protest, right?

After that, we got our tickets for the Duomo (the big cathedral and most famous landmark in Florence) and everything that comes with it: the Baptistery, Giotto’s Bell Tower, Brunelleschi’s Dome, the museum, and Santa Reparata.  First, we went into the Baptistery, which has gorgeous gold mosaic ceilings. Mosaics were big before frescoes became popular, and the Baptistery was built first. The outside of the Baptistery had been covered in scaffolding to be cleaned all semester, but they finished just in time for the Pope to come to town! He was here last Tuesday, and I had several friends that saw him riding in his little car. I only have one class on Tuesdays, which is across the street from me, so I didn’t go out that day.

Ceiling of the baptistery

 

Front of the baptistery

 

 

cute horse

   From there, we climbed the bell tower, which has like 419 steps. There are about three platforms on the way up where you can pause and take pictures or sit down, and each time we got to one, we thought we were at the top. Every time, we said something like, “That wasn’t so bad!” We finally made it to the top and got a spectacular view of the city and the Dome.

The white, round building is the Baptistery.

 

Taken from the first level of the bell tower.

 

Taken from the second level.

Taken on the third level: you could see the lower level through the grate.

 

It was pretty tight in there, especially with people going up and down the same stairs.

View of the Dome from the top of the bell tower.

 

Here you can see the Piazza della Republica, the big square in the middle.

   We then went to the Duomo museum, which had lots of artifacts from the buildings. It also had a terrace from which you could see the Duomo.

 

Taken from the museum terrace.

We then went inside the cathedral, which is free, since it’s a functioning church. There were lots of extra seats and areas roped off for the Pope’s, speach, so we couldn’t go to the front. Usually, you should be able to see the inside of the Dome from there. I’ll have to go back another time for that. There is also the very famous painting of Dante in there, but I couldn’t get close to that, either. 

That’s a mosaic in the middle and frescos on each side.

 

We then went to the archaeological site of Santa Reparata, a medieval church on top of which the Duomo was built. It is underground, which is cool.

Santa Reparata

I decided not to climb the Dome, since I already go skyline pictures with the Dome in it, and the line was really long, and I was tired of stairs. I ate soup in my apartment instead. No regrets.

Sunday, Maddie and I met and went to the farmers market in Piazza Santo Spirito, which is across the river. I love all the markets here! (Except San Lorenzo- that place is way to crowded and touristy and unpleasant.) I like the markets that the locals go to, like the ones in Santo Spirito and San Ambrogio.

We left the market and went to a Conad supermarket to get picnic supplies: salami, cheese, crackers, berries, and wine. We then headed up to Piazzale Michelangelo, which overlooks the city. It’s along the edge of the city, and you have to go up a lot of stairs, so it’s a bit of a hike from the city center, but it is so worth it. There were a lot of people there, I guess because it was Sunday and beautiful weather, but we found an open bench to eat on. We realized we forgot to bring a wine bottle opener, so Maddie searched the souvenir stands until she found a dinky one for five euros. We were struggling to get it open, so an old man took pity and came over to open it for us. Finally, we could relax and enjoy our yummy food and soak in the view. It was great.

           

We then went into the church up there, which was much more humble than the grand cathedral we saw the day before.  It was still big, though. I liked the wooden ceilings. We also walked around the church, which had a nice little park area. 
    We walked back down all the stairs, and I got gelato at a place that sells it a euro cheaper than in the city center.

This is part of the old wall of the city!

 We walked to Santa Croce and wandered around a bit, and then I went home and took a nap. It was a nice, relaxing, much needed weekend.t was nice to be a tourist in my own city, and I’m glad I waited until the hoards of tourists left.

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