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.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Florence: Day 2

We woke up a little later than expected this morning and were running late for our train to Pisa. When I say running late I mean exactly that as Monica, Malia, Krista and I were late and had to run from our Hostel to get to the train station in time. With the running we had bout four minutes to spare when we got to the train station and then quickly ran up to one of the many ticket kiosks to get our tickets. Instead of waiting in line behind everyone, Monica and I thought we might be able to speed the process up a bit if we went and found another kiosk that wasn’t being used. The first open kiosks we came up to looked a little different from the ones we had used before but we were in too much of a hurry to think anything of it. So we proceed to purchase the tickets and then the machine spits out these two little tiny pieces of paper, which were very different from the large tickets we were used to…so we kind of started freaking out. Meanwhile, all of Monica’s roommates had gotten their tickets and proceeded to get on the train. Monica and I run across the terminal and get in the information line where there are four people in line in front of us. We wait about five minutes before we can talk to someone and ask them if these tickets will work and the guy starts nodding yes and tells us that we still have to validate them. So we run off (yes, we were in a full sprint at this point, not just a little jog) and go validate the tiny little tickets and continue running towards the terminal (also keep in mind that it is probably a good five minutes after the train was supposed to leave by now. We finally get to the right terminal and are frantically looking in the windows as we run by trying to spot Monica’s roommates. We finally see them when we are about half-way down the length of the train and hop in through the next door. As we are stepping onto the train, we notice that there are two train personnel arguing with a younger guy right outside of the train. They finished shortly after we boarded and it was then we realized that we wouldn’t have made it if it weren’t for this guy arguing.

The train ride was only about an hour long and before we knew it we were off to see the leaning tower. Pisa is a nice little city with a population around 95,000 but there is not much to it apart from the leaning tower. It the tower was about a 30 minute walk from the train station so we headed off right away and picked up a little breakfast on the way (a cappuccino and a cornetta). It was pretty busy when we got there but the whole Piazza del Duomo was very open and pleasant. There are huge open grassy areas all around the tower and the Duomo and they are called the Field of Miracles. We got a few good pictures and then wandered around the area little bit before heading back to the train station. Then we picked up a quick lunch and again found ourselves running to catch the next train. We were sitting down and eating and just lost track of time and sat down on the train about a minute before it started moving.

This is the river we crossed on our way to see the leaning tower of Pisa.

The leaning Tower of Pisa!

This is me in front of the leaning tower.

This is a view of a little more of the piazza where the leaning tower is. There was one other temple and a couple other fields in the piazza.

Another shot of the leaning tower. The church kind of helps put in perspective how much it is actually leaning.

When we arrived back in Florence it was about 13:50 (or 1:50 PM) and our plan was to go and check out the Uffizi museum, supposedly one of the best museums in all of Italy. We passed through Piazza della Signoria which holds a replica of Michelangelo’s David as well as a number of other amazing statues. When we got to the Uffizi the line was really long and we knew the museum was only going to be open for a couple more hours so we decided to come back in the morning just to make sure we had enough time so as to not rush through it.

This was one corner of Piazza della Signoria.

One of the statues in the piazza.

We walked over by the Boboli Gardens and then spent the rest of the afternoon checking out Ponte Vecchio and Piazzale Michelangelo. Ponte Vecchio is the only bridge that was left intact after WWII and currently houses a large number of different extremely pricey jewelry vendors. It was actually kind of strange walking across the bridge and seeing nothing but bright, shining jewelry lining both sides of the bridge. Piazzale Michelangelo is a magnificent Piazza at the top of a huge hill on the southwestern side of the city. We made the hike up and enjoyed the views of the city, the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, and Santa Croche. By this point we were all pretty exhausted so we started the walk back to our Hostels. The plan was to go back and rest for a couple hours and then meet up for dinner to celebrate one of Monica’s roommate’s 21st birthday.

This is the Ponte Vecchio bridge, the only bridge that was not destroyed in WWII.

This is the road leading down to Ponte Vecchio from the Uffizi.

This is on the Ponte Vecchio bridge. Notice all of the jewelry in the shops in the background.

This a shot on the way up the Piazzale Michelangelo.

This is me at the top of Piazzale Michelangelo.

You could see almost the entire city from Piazzale Michelangelo. This is a view of the Duomo from a distance.

This is a view of the river and Ponte Vecchio from Piazzale Michelangelo.

When we got back to the Hostel I went and picked up a bottle of Chianti for about four euro (which is the most expensive bottle of wine I have bought to date) and we all sat back and relaxed for a couple hours.

At 4.50 euro, this is the most expensive bottle of wine I have bought since arriving in Italy.

We met up later that night at 21:15 (or 9:15 PM) and ate dinner at this little jazz club near Ponte Vecchio. We finished around 10:30 and then went in search of a discoteca. It was kind of an ordeal trying to find one but we eventually found one we were looking for called Andromeda. I went up and talked to the bouncer and he told us they did not open for another 20 minutes…and by this time it was 23:15 (11:15 PM). I would like to say that we came back and danced the night away in the discoteca but we didn’t. We were all so exhausted that we just went home and went to sleep. I know, we are kind of lame.

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