I visited Florence (Firenze in Italian) in high school. I don't remember a lot about it, but I do remember I didn't particularly like it. I was curious to see what my impression would be this time.
Turns out, just about the same.
We arrived in the train station and found our way to our hotel. On the way, we discovered that we were in Florence for a gelato festival! +1 point!
Then, we discovered that the space above our hotel (it's in a large building) was under construction - not particularly wonderful, but they only worked on it from 9-5, so we were not around for much of the noise. Our hotelier was welcoming and friendly and more than happy to answer our questions. This equals out = no points.
Next, we went in search of food. On the way there, I got bird poop on my pants (my best guess is that I walked into it as it was falling out of the sky). -3 points, Florence.
Rick Steves recommends a small grocery store near the train station for the quick salad/pre-made foods section. Clearly, the store owner has caught on and has jacked up the prices. It cost us 15€ for some extra salty, extra al dente pesto pasta; some pickled eggplant; and two small roll things. We were also grumped at multiple times by the employees, who seemed pretty fed up with foreigners. -4 points.
To comfort ourselves, we partook in the gelato festival. For 10€, we got 5 dishes of gelato, a gelato inspired beverage, and a tote bag (the gelato was redeemable over several days). +4 points
|It's always a sad thing when the gelato is gone.|
After that, we let Rick Steves take us on a tour of the city and regale us with fun facts and corny jokes. We started at the enormous basilica:
And checked out the famous baptistery doors:
Afterwards, we wandered around for quite a while, during which time someone dumped bread crumbs out of a window and onto my head. Awesome. What the heck, Florence!? -2 points
It's not quite as bad as being spit on at the Colosseum, I suppose. Yes, I got spit on - apparently some teens thought it would be hysterical to spit off a high spot, and I was lucky enough to be right below them. It landed in my hair and on my cheek. Lovely.
But I digress.
We went back to our hotel and consoled ourselves with some limoncello that we purchased in Assisi. Limoncello is one of my new favorite alcoholic beverages. In fact, I'm drinking some now as I edit this post! (Maybe unwise? How's my spelling/grammar?)
On Friday morning, we found the food market. Everyone was super friendly, we found lots of great foods for making meals in our hotel room, and had delicious cheap sandwiches. +5 points
|Here's a sample meal from our food market bounty (I'm peeling an orange).|
After dropping the food off at our hotel, we went to the Uffizi. This was a mixed bag. Boticelli's Birth of Venus is truly lovely in person, but no photographs are allowed at all, and a large chunk of the museum was closed. We saw nothing by Raphael, which was disappointing. And it was rather expensive, given how much was closed. -2 points. I did cheat and take a picture of the Ponte Vecchio (bridge with lots of jewelry shops on it) from the Uffizi though:
We went out to dinner. The plates were huge, but for whatever reason, we weren't given free watermelon for dessert like everyone else. -1 point
Saturday it rained and rained and the high was 59 degrees. Brrrr. I won't deduct points for weather, though. We went to the Galileo museum, which was good overall, although we both would have liked more explanations of how things worked, not just who acquired them and when they were constructed. +2 points
|Some science-y thing from the late 1500s. More info here.|
Hopefully, Paul will write a more complete post about some of the stuff in this museum - there really were some very cool things, like the above armillary sphere built when people still thought the earth was the center of the universe. All those wooden circular belts you see would have moved. Really impressive!
Then, with a recommendation from our hotelier, we found a coffee shop where we could actually sit for a while and read, taking refuge from the pouring rain and cold weather. Paul says, "It was super close and awesome!" +2 points
Tomorrow we leave for Venice, city of expensive lodgings. :)
So, odi et amo ("I hate and I love," in Latin, from a poem by Catullus) Firenze. For those of you who did the math, I think Florence came out with a +2 score overall.
I should probably add a few points for the spectacular sunset we had the pleasure of viewing one evening:
A bit darker:
And of course, sunset plus Kate and Paul: