Florence Travel Blog

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Firenze, Italy: 5/20/08

            We caught an early morning train out of Roma to Firenze ( Florence ). We lucked out again and had a very friendly Italian lady sitting with us. She lives up in the Northern Italian Alps north of Verona ; she spoke very good English and talked with us on the entire trip up to Florence . Arriving in Florence there was an obvious American family standing back by the train door waiting to get off the train. How do you tell an American Tourist from a European? Their bags are as big as they are and they have as much excess baggage as they do fat hanging around their bellies. As theses wonderful people attempted to unload all 7 bags between the three of them the wife asked the husband to move them aside so people could get by. His response was, “They will wait.” She then asked again and his next response is one that Dave and I still joke about to this day. “LET E’M WAIT!!!” Dave and I laughed out loud when he blurted this out. Besides our current president it’s people like this who give our country a bad rap. Since we were not in a rush we waited for them to move all their bags and get out of the way. If we would have had a three minute connection like we would the following day, their bags would have been kicked from the doorway like a David Beckham free kick.

            Walking out of the Florence train station we were greeted by a slight downpour. After donning our rain gear we trudged on to find our hotel; it was a short walk from the train station. However, it never fails the first time we try to find our place we inevitably take a much longer and more arduous path while attempting to locate the hostel/hotel.

After checking in we are taken to the room by a maid. At first we figured she was just trying to get a tip from us, but after winding around a maze of hallways on the “European” first floor watching the room numbers go from the 100’s to the 200’s on the same floor, we arrived at a small elevator. I walked in then Dave along with the maid walked in, a red warning light came on saying we were too heavy for the elevator. The maid stepped out, still too heavy, and then Dave stepped out. I was alright by myself with my pack and the small little maid. She pushed floor 0; this is where the problems started. Our room number was 321, so Dave walked up some stairs to the logical place the 300’s would be. He forgets; “We are in ITALY !!” So here the maid and I stood on the ground floor looking at room 321 but Dave was two floors above us. She began to call up the stairway “Signoria!” The room is nice but there is no internet or guest laundry facility as listed on their website. The room also has a very peculiar control unit for the A/C, even though you can try to control it; the thing has a mind of its own.

Since the rain has stopped we run out to try to get into the Accademia to see the statue David. On the way there we stopped at a crosswalk for a bus, and Audi tucked in behind the bus and gassed it so he would not have to stop for us and the other people standing in the middle of the road. His window was half way down and I saw my chance. I put my hands up just as the Italians do and began to make the hand gestures while yelling out: “Hey Hey Hey, I’m a walking here!” He in turn tried to yell something else back but he was too shocked that some tourist had the nerve to give him a little Italian attitude.

Finding the line to get into the Accademia we headed off to the Duomo. There too was also a good line to get into the Duomo, but there was no line to climb up to the rooftop; a view I would much rather have. So we paid our 6 Euros and began our accent to the roof of the Duomo. This would not be a task I would attempt in the middle of summer. I could not imagine being crammed in this little stairway in 90 degree weather with a bunch of sweaty tourist all gasping for air. This time of the year the line never came to much of a halt on the way to the top. We emerged upon a walkway just bellow the dome hundreds of feet up above the people far bellow us. This is the view of the inside I wanted; we are right under the dome and the paintings are larger than life from our vantage point. Again we walk back into the walls and make our way to the roof. The ceiling begins to slant and you can tell you are walking along the dome as the wall on the right is curved. There was a nice traffic jam at the top, since towards the top both acceding and descending parties have to use the same stairs for a bit. Now logic would tell oneself to have some sort of system in place to allow a number of people up and down at a time, that way there is no major problems. Again, I forget we are in ITALIA!! Breaking out into the light I have a birds eye view of the city. WOW! That was well worth the price of admission and any sort of discomfort on the way up (I did bang my head into a light trying to get around people coming down).  Round two of the storms were off in the distance and the contrast it made with the beautiful rays of sun coming down on the red rooftops made for some excellent pictures. After spending some time up on the roof we began the descent back into the abyss called the DUOMO. This time when we emerged into the dome we were on a walkway even higher than before. The paintings up this close are incredible. How did anyone ever paint such works of art this high up? The rest of the walk down the many stairs went smoothly. By the time we walked out of the Duomo it had begun to rain again. We were on a mission so putting the rain gear back on we made our way back to the Academia to see if the lines had died down because of the rain. Half way there the rain stopped, so anyone who might have got out of the line quickly got back in. We turned around and headed for Ponte Vecchio, stopping at Piazza Della Signoria along the way. I spotted a girl pick pocket as she cruised around the Piazza trying to blend in with the crowds. I watched her for a bit as she never looked at any of the sights or around as she would be if looking for a lost friend. She eventually moved on to terrorize some other popular tourist sight in the city. Ponte Vecchio is a bridge that has a bunch of shops built on it. The street itself really isn’t much too look at I think, but the true beauty can be seen from Ponte alle Grazie just down the river. Here one can see all the beauty of the colors and architecture, and if you are lucky as I was you can see this all while the sun is starting to set. Well round three of the storms was looming behind us so we decided to head off to find a bite to eat and wait it out in a café of restaurant. We ended up back near our hotel so I ditched my day bag and we went into a place close by. From the menu and the looks of the establishment I would say it was alright. After and during dinner Dave would have begged to differ. I was going to order a pizza because it takes a moron to really make a bad pizza. Instead I went for a calzione and Dave went for a plate of pasta. Dave’s dinner came out first with compliments from Chef Boyardee, not only that but it looked as if they only gave him half the can of Chef Boyardee. My calzione soon arrived and I thought Dave was going to break down and cry when he saw what my meal looked like compared to his. After dinner it was time to hit the local Laundromat and get some clothes washed. This is one of those parts of traveling that really can be very boring, but we pass the time talking, reading and laughing about Dave’s dinner.

I head back down to the Duomo to get some night shots before calling it a night; there was a lot of activity going on down in that area of town around 23:30.


It was another busy day of sightseeing and walking all over another city, would like another day to see some of the museums here, but to me the true beauty of a city is in the architecture and not what is stored inside of these buildings.  
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Florence Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Chef Boyardee
From the menu and the looks of the establishment I would say it was alright. After and during dinner Dave would have begged to differ. I was going to … read entire review
photo by: spocklogic