In front of the Arno River from the bridge near our Best Western
We are now in our third night in Florence
(Firenze), Italy! This is one of the cities I was really looking forward to--and it has definitely been the most amazing city I have ever been to. It's pretty big, and yet you can walk to get wherever you want to go and get there pretty quickly. The roads are really narrow, and there are a lot of them, but with a map you can get around pretty easily. There are mopeds everywhere--and even the cars fit down the narrow roads (I would not want to parallel park here). The people are really nice--it seems that if you follow the basic rule of at least trying to say what you know in Italian, they will be happy. A lot of them speak perfect English too.
The first day we got here midday and checked into our hotel--the Best Western (yes, Best Western) of Florence, also called the Hotel Capitol.
The rooms are amazing--definitely not the rooms I was expecting in Europe. Nice warm showers, very cute 4-person lifts, and amazing breakfast. Breakfast is quickly becoming my favorite meal. You leave your key at the desk, which turns out to be pretty convenient since we all have roommates and may get back to the room at different times and need the key to get in. The first day we also walked over to the Duomo--a building I am completely obsessed with. It is so much bigger than I imagined, and it is gorgeous--plus it is the central landmark in the Florentine skyline. Hopefully we will get to go inside and climb the dome tomorrow!
The second day we went over to the S. M. del Carmine to see the Tribute Money and other paintings by Masaccio--they were very impressive. I've been amazed at how lifelike these paintings actually look in person.
Then we had a short break and a walking tour of Florence--which was helpful in explaining the historical context of the buildings we are seeing in the middle of the city. I learned that there are fleur-de-lis everywhere mostly due to the fact that Catherine de Medici married the King of France. We saw the old building that was the head of the state in the plaza with the Uffizi, and of course the Duomo outside and the Baptistery in the plaza that was the center of the church life, and then the guild building in the middle.
Last night was the most fun part so far--we went to a supermarket to buy dinner (a very positive first European supermarket experience), and then to the bus stop (which was a no go because the bus drivers were on strike yesterday), and then walked up the hill across the Arno River up to the Piazza Michelangelo to catch a view of the city and watch the sunset while we ate.
It was by far the most gorgeous view I have ever seen! I think I took 300 pictures just in those 3 hours. I'm hoping to go back tomorrow to get some pictures in the sunlight.
Today was intense but exciting class-wise--1 lecture and then three museums in a row. The museums were amazing, but by midday the walking that I had thus far felt invincible about started to wear on my feet. Luckily a short dinner break helped cure that in time to over to the river and take pictures of the bridges in the sunset/twilight (202 more pictures). Today I also had my most extensive conversation with an Italian in sort-of Italian, sort-of French, and then English--it was really nice to get to talk (somewhat successfully) to someone that lives here :)
Tomorrow is our last day before going on to Rome
:( I'm excited to explore more of the city and hit the ground running to enjoy our last day here!