Caught the Circumvesvian to Naples and then the EuroStar Italia to Florence. Dropped our things off at the hostel and headed toward the Accademia. The Accademia looked like an apartment building, if there wasn't a short line outside I would have passed right by it. The main attraction is Michelangelo's David. The overall museum was pretty small, you could definitely see everything in an hour or two. The David was absolutely perfect, it was so smooth I wish I could touch it. I just stood there for a couple of minutes just staring at it, it was hard to walk away from it. I actually went back to look at the David 3 times.
inside the Duomo
Michelangelo's unfinished sculptures were also very interesting to see. There are a total of four, two of them are at the Accademia and the other two are at the Lourve. The sculptures looked as if they were trying to break through the marble slabs. After finishing up at the Accademia, walked over to the Duomo. The Duomo was beautiful both inside and out, there was a great painting in the main dome. I decided to climb the Giotto Tower, paid 6 euros and climbed all the stairs to the very top. There were several view point levels, with the old bell on the third level. The view was great from up there, with a 360 degree panoramic view of Florence. Going up the Giotto Tower also gave a great view of the Duomo. Climbed back down and checked out the entrance of the Duomo and then the small Bapistry next to it with the gold doors.
It was getting dark, so I headed back to the hostel. We asked the guy at the desk to recommend a place to eat, apparently Florence is well known for T-bone steaks. We make our way to Rossopomodoro to have Florentine style T-bone steak, bruschetta, and wine. The food was really good, a great way to end the day.
The next day we signed up for the wine tasting tour offered by the hostel, which was recommended by our roommates at Sorrento. We went to 2 wineries and stopped at the small town of San Gimignano. It was a great tour, our guide taught us a few Italian phrases and some hand signals to help us communicate during our stay in Italy.
view from the tower
The first winery we stopped at was called Sant' Appiano, we got a quick tour of the winery and went over the process of making wine. Then we got to sample great proshutto, salami, sheep milk cheese, and bread. They also showed us the proper way to taste red and white wine. Next we headed over to San Gimignano, which was an old medieval town with several towers. The village has the world champion gelatto maker, the gelatto was delicious. There were a few interesting flavors, such as Rosemary and Smurf. Wandered around with our gelatto and checked out some amazing views. Then we headed over to the next winery called Torcino. They had a black Rooster named Emilio wandering around the grounds, it had a feathery afro. We tried some more red and white wine.
Old bell in the tower
We even tried some amazing olive oil and honey with truffel. It was so good that I shipped 2 bottles back home. The whole wine tour was really fun, got to drink, eat, and chat with new friends. When we got back to Florence, some of us headed to the street markets to do some shopping. They had so much stuff and everything was so cheap. There were several booths that sold leather goods, scarves, shirts, bags, and a bunch of other things. It would have been nice to pick up some gifts, but my small bag couldn't hold anything else.
Today was day light savings, so we got to sleep in for an extra hour. Got up and headed straight for the Uffizi gallery before it opened. There was a long line when we got there, I think some people forgot that it was day light savings.
view from the tower
We waited for about 45 minutes before we finally got into the gallery. Picked up an audio guide and started exploring the place. A lot of pieces were missing, either be cleaned or on loan to another museum and the audio guide was not helpful at all. After spending about 3 hours at the Uffizi, we found a small place to have some lunch. After lunch we grabbed some gelato and headed over to the Church of Santa Croce. The church has the tombs of Michelangelo, Machiaveli, and Gaileleo. Michelangelo's tomb was pretty impressive, there were 3 statues around it that represented the elements that he achieved at: sculpting, painting, and architecture. There is also a well knwon Donetello piece of the cruxifiction of Christ, but it was on loan to another museum.
view from the tower
After the church we walked across the Ponte Vecchio bridge, which is the only bridge that was not destroyed during WWII. The bridge was full of tourists and jewelry shops. There was a great view of the Arnos River, you could see the buildings reflecting off the water. We made our way to the Piazzale Michelangelo, the walk up was pretty steep but the view during sunset was totally worth it. There was a bronze version of David, so I finally got to take a picture with him. (The replica in the Piazza della Signoria was being cleaned). After watching the sunset, we headed back to the hostel to meet up with some friends to have dinner. We decided to try a place called Za-Za, which was recommended by my guide book. The food was delicious, ordered the beef in balsamic vinegar sauce and ravioli in truffle saunce. (yum!) Everyone cleaned their plates, it was so good. Finished up the night with some wine up on the Terrace back at the hostel.