Thank you so much for visiting my blog. I hope that this will be an excellent way for me to keep all of my friends and family up to date on my semester abroad in Rome. Please feel free to post any comments you would like, or shoot me an e-mail and I will try to respond as soon as possible. Also, if you click on each of the photographs below, it will display them at their full size.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Florence: Day 1

I woke up around 5:30 this morning and went and met Monica and her roommates around 6:00. We didn’t exactly know how to get to Termini Station so it was a little hectic trying to find out way there. We took the tram up to Area Sacra (the cat sanctuary) and then started looking for a bus there that was headed towards Termini. We couldn’t find on the signs which ones went to Termini so we eventually just asked one of the bus drivers. As we were asking and he was trying to answer us he looks up and points at a bus all half-way across the Piazza. We all make a mad dash to try and catch it, but it pulls away before we can get close enough. So we wait for the next bus. Luckily it takes us right to Termini station. When we get inside we all take care of getting our tickets and then we go and find the terminal that our train is leaving from.

Monica and her roommates heading for Termini Station to catch our train to Florence.

Termini Station in Rome.

We're going to Florence (Firenze)!

We have about 20 minutes to spare before the train is set to leave so Monica’s roommate Krista and I go and try to find the bathrooms. We finally find them in the basement of the Termini and get ready to head in when we see that there is a gate in front of them blocking them off. We look a little closer and see that it costs 70 euro cents just to use the bathroom. I pay it and get inside and there is a line of about 15 stalls and every single one of them is in use. I have to wait about five minutes before anyone comes out and after five minutes only one person does. I guess the Italians like to get their money’s worth in the public restroom. When I get back, everyone is already on the train, so I get on and we are on our way.

These are the gates that you have to pay 70 euro cents to get through to use the bathroom.

The train ride wasn’t bad at all. I slept for about 20 minutes and spent the rest of the time looking at travel books figuring out where would be the best places to go when we got there. We arrived in Florence a little before 11:00 and then went in search of an information booth to get a couple of maps to use while we were there. After that we split up to go and find our hostels.

Me on the train to Florence.

I just held the camera over my head for this shot and it actually turned out alright. Yes that is my forehead.

Four of us booked a hostel called Emerald Fields and it was about ten minutes away from the train station. So we eventually find it and ring the buzzer three times for them to let us in. We wait a little bit longer and two guys come down and open the door on their way out. One of them is an Australian guy with huge white-rimmed sunglasses on and he tells us that there is no one there to check us in now but if we wanted to leave our stuff outside the door and come back in a couple hours we could do that. We didn’t really want to do that. We rang the buzzer when we got up to where the hostel was and this girl came and opened the door for us. She had been vacuuming and jamming out to music when we buzzed so I don’t think she heard us. She was very nice and luckily was able to check us all in but she told us that the hostel was split and had rooms in two different buildings. We were in the other building.

So after we were checked in she pulled me over and handed me a copy of a map of Florence on a pink sheet of paper. She drew a line from where we were to a street corner about 6 blocks away. She told us to go and wait on this street corner and a guy named Marco would come meet us and take us the rest of the way to the where we were staying. She also told us to keep the pink maps out so he would be able to recognize us.

We leave and walk to the street corner that she specified thinking that Marco was going to be there waiting for us…but he wasn’t. We make it to the street corner and just stand there for about ten minutes thinking that every guy that walked by might be Marco, but none of them were. Marco actually never showed up. A guy named Dan did, however, show up and took us to the hostel.

A street in Florence.

The hostel is really nice. The rooms are big and there were two bathrooms and a kitchen and it was all very clean. We had two of the five rooms in the place and I think the other three were all occupied by Australians. We dropped our stuff off and then headed to the Duomo to meet the others.

One of the bedrooms.

The Duomo is like nothing I have ever seen before. I was amazed by the detail and the sheer size of the Duomo. Not only was the wide array of colored marble amazing, there was so much detail on every inch of the entire cathedral. From the sculpted figures, to the engravings, to the different designs, it was definitely a sight to see. Right next to the Duomo is Giotti’s Tower and the Baptistery of St. John. The Baptistery was originally a roman temple and is believed to be the oldest building in Florence. It has eight sides each with huge bronze doors on them. The doors facing the Duomo are known as the Gates of Paradise.

The front of the Duomo.

This is a close up shot of the Duomo and Giotti's Tower (right).

The Gates of Paradise (I think these are a replica, however, and the actual ones are in the Duomo Museum).

After checking out the exterior of the Duomo, we went searching for a place to eat. We eventually decided on a cafeteria right across the street from the Duomo that had a lot of ready-made lunches and panini’s.

This was the caffetteria across from the Duomo we stopped at for lunch.

When we finished lunch we went to the Galleria Dell’Accademia to see Michelangelo’s David. All in all, the museum wasn’t that spectacular but it is definitely worth it when you turn the corner and see the David at the end of the hallway. No matter how many pictures you see of it, none do it justice. When you see the 5.17 meter (17 foot) figure in person it is an unbelievable experience. The detail of the figure almost makes it look alive. We spent a half an hour just standing in awe of it. If you ever have the opportunity to see it, definitely take advantage of it.

We weren't allowed to take photos inside, so you'll just have to trust me that I actually saw the David.

When we left Accademia, we headed back to the Duomo to climb the 463 steps to the top of the Dome. This was definitely worth the 6 euro it cost to get in. You get inside and then there is this little door in the stone wall right after you enter. The whole way up to the top you are in this very small stairwell and pretty much have no idea where you are. It was so tight that when someone started coming down going the opposite direction you had to stop and hug the wall to make enough room for them to get by. All the way up there are little windows that give you a small peak at the outside. I soon realized that this wasn’t just a leisurely walk up some stairs, I was huffing and puffing and could feel my legs getting a little weak. When you get to the top, there is this little opening that you walk up this steep stairs to get out to the roof. As soon as you get your bearings and take in your first sight of the cityscape you can’t help but stop in your tracks in awe. We spent about 35 minutes on the roof taking pictures and just simply enjoying the view. After a while it was fun just watching the reaction of the new people emerging out of the opening and seeing the view for the first time.

This was the first part of the stairs walking up to the top of the dome in the Duomo.

This was one of the small windows to the outside as we were climbing the 463 stairs to the top.

This is a shot I got when I held my camera facing down out of the small window shown above.

This was a quick shot of the inside of the dome as we were ascending. We walked around this ridge and then went back in between the inner dome and the outer dome to continue our climb to the top.

Here is a shot from the top of the Duomo.

And another.

And another.

We stayed at the top until the sun started going down.

My roommate Kurt just showed me how to upload video onto my blog. If this does work, it is a shot from the top of the Duomo. If it doesn't work, let me know.

Going down the stairs wasn’t exactly a walk in the park either. When we finally reached the bottom again I’m sure we all looked a little funny walking out of the doorway as our legs were a little wobbly from the climb and descent. We took a few more pictures of the inside of the Duomo and then headed back to the apartment.

Inside the Duomo.

The inside of the Dome.

We went out to dinner a little bit later and then headed to bed early. During dinner we decided that we were going to make a trip to Pisa to see the leaning tower in the morning.


Annika said...

Man I love Firenze!! Thanks for the photos and the trip down memory lane. You guys should take a weekend and enjoy Tuscany as well.

AdRock said...

Yeah, the trip was amazing. Firenze is soooo different from Rome, it is much cleaner and a little easier to tackle as far as getting around. Rome is definitely more of a challenge. We are planning on spending a weekend in Tuscany when Monica's family comes to visit. They have rented a villa and have a chef coming to cook for us as well, it should be pretty cool.

pargetsinger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pargetsinger said...

Ok - Let me try this again! Adam, you are taking some incredible pictures! Your Dad and I visited many of the same places you did in Firenze. I loved it there because it was alot more relaxing than Rome. We miss you!