By Ben |

We had too many photos of Florence to describe them all. Enjoy the album! Reconstructing our notes 11 years later...

We slept in on Monday, June 1 and walked to the metro station in pouring rain, with a poncho over our luggage. We had trouble finding the ticket machines and then the platform, but once we were on board the train, it left exactly on time. The seats were not numbered as the ticket machine had implied; we got seated with two others. Jessie slept a little, and I worked on our photos for a while before I got queasy.

At the Florence train station, we got some cash at an ATM and had some disappointing panini for lunch. We walked to the hostel in a light rain only to find we were in the wrong location, but the owner drove us to the couples location, which was much closer to attractions.

We had some trouble finding the Galeria dell'Accademia due to poor signage and overshot by three blocks. Once we got there, we saw the David, Michelangelo's unfinished prisoners and slaves, and a Robert Mapplethorpe show. We were surprised to find the museum had the smell of an oriental grocery store. The scupture room was packed from floor to ceiling, with many plaster models.

Back at the hostel, Jessie had a nap before dinner at Gratella. We were distracted by an unusual family at the next table: the man was cutting his pasta one piece at a time; the woman ate a warm spinach-looking goo, and the girl ate nothing. Martians? Then we had gelato at a place called Bermuda Triangle.

On Tuesday, June 2, we got up early and walked to the Uffizi, finding breakfast on the way. There were many copies of famous statues in the Palazzo Vecchio, and a beggar woman kissed Jessie's hand when she gave her a Euro. There was a lot of art at the Uffizi, more than we'd seen since the Vatican Museum, including Caravaggio's Bacchus, Giotto's Madonna & Child, Michelangelo's Holy Family, Da Vinci's Annunciation, and Botticelli's Birth of Venus and Birth of Spring. We had a snack of amazing iced cappuccino on a balcony overlooking the sculptures.

We had lunch on the river and walked across the Ponte Vecchio and had gelato, but we found that both Santa Croce and Santo Spirito churches were closed. Instead we went to the open air market and bought lots of souvenirs. [I bought two leather belts that lasted me for over a decade.] We admired the statues by Donatello at the nearby Orsam Michele. By the time we returned to the hostel, we figured we had walked about 9 hours!

We had dinner at ZaZa near the Mercato Centrale, outdoor seating with live musicians. On our way back to the hostel we got gelato again and went to sit down, but we got chased out because we had ordered cones, and seating was not included in the price! Since the laundromats had closed, we did laundry in the hostel kitchen and hung it on a line.

Jessie had trouble sleeping, but on Wednesday the 3rd we got up early again and walked to breakfast (cappuccino, pastries, and OJ) on our way to Medici Chapel. There were lots of tombs and reliquaries, plus an awesome altar with inlay. The altar was conceived in the Renaissance but not completed until the 1930s! We also enjoyed Michelangelo's statues personifying Day, Night, Dawn, and Dusk.

At Santa Maria di Fiore, we climbed the Giotto Campanile, 414 steps in 4 levels, each with a spectacular 360° view. The highest level was almost as high as the Duomo. We stopped for iced cappuccino and some truly amazing tiramisù at Caffe Duomo before visiting the nearby Museo della Opera (the Duomo museum). We saw Michelangelo's Pietà and Donatello's Mary Magdalene, along with lots of information about the dome and its façade. At the Bargello we saw Verocchio's David, a Donatello David, and Michelangelo's Bacchus, along with a fantastic Bernini exhibit!

We returned to Caffe Duomo for a late lunch of lasagne, spaghetti carbonara, and more tiramisù! [notes for this afternoon are missing] We had dinner at Il Giardino (an outdoor garden) and had wine for the first time since the plane. We had pizza vegetariana and gnocchi with asparagus and radicchio. Then we went for a walk in the Piazza de Independenzia.

Back at the hostel, I balanced the checkbook and found an unexpected fee from our hostel in Venice. When I called them, I learned I had booked the wrong dates for our reservation, and we had no reservation for the correct dates!