Sunday, November 22, 2009

More about Florence


Although the night before had been a late night, Mindy and I were both up by 8am. I headed down for breakfast while she got ready for the day with our two roommates, neither of which spoke very much English. At 10am we went with a group from the hostel on a walking tour. Most of this tour were places we had already been to, however, it was nice to hear the history behind the buildings, and the people who had commissioned and designed them.
After walking through the narrow streets and stopping at the usual landmarks, we took a gelato/espresso break at one of the oldest cafes in Florence. As I had just had a gelato the day before, and had not yet had my morning coffee, I decided to have an espresso (one is all I need).

After the tour, we headed to Chiesa di Santa Croce. This church is the resting place for the most famous Florentines, however, that does not include Dante, who died while in exile. Instead of having a tomb inside the church, there is a rather large statue of him in the square outside. Unfortunately, the main altar was being worked on, so what we could see was through scaffolding. What we could see was pretty neat. There was a courtyard with sculptures that I had seen before (again, from my studies in college), and in the museum section of the church was a very extravagant altar behind a very large gate.Up next was the Galleria degli Uffizi. The galleries are on the top two floors so up more stairs we went. By this time, both Mindy and I were starting to think that the Italians really like their stairs, and they like them steep! Yet again, no photos were allowed, but it was a nice break from looking at everything through a lens. About an hour into the museum, we had started to notice how tired our legs were. I couldn't help but think that sitting down would be nice.

After dinner and at least one bottle of wine we took it easy and hung out in the lounge area of the hostel for the evening.


We started this day with a run around Fortezza da Basso, which was a couple of blocks away from the hostel. We ran around it three times, which took almost 26 minutes, and was probably three miles total. It felt great running at such a low elevation, however, the car exhaust was horrible! My legs had been feeling very tight and I remember feeling much better after this run.

We headed out on that days tour after checking out and stowing our bags in the holding area again. This leg of the tour was the 'off the beaten path tour' and took us to areas we hadn't been to yet. While taking a break on Ponte S. Trinita, our guide told us about the Ponte Vecchio, which is where all of the jewelry stores are. This also turned into a great picture opportunity, and as we knew some of the people on the tour, I felt comfortable handing over my camera so that I could be in some photos.

Up next was another break at a cafe just off the bridge. This time, I did have a gelato and it was almost as good as the first one that I had had on our first day in Florence. After our indulgence, we headed to Chiesa di Santa Spirito. We were able to go inside here, and it was wonderful. No repairs were going on so we were able to see everything. It was a bit cold inside, and all of us were anxious to get outside and into the sun. This was a perfect day, with blue skies that were great for taking photographs.

With the conclusion of this tour, we said goodbye to our friends and picked up or packs. We were headed to Rome!

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