Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dennis & Erin's Excellent (Italian) Adventure - Part 3

Day 6 (Sunday, October 18)
Our first full day in Florence! Today was a day devoted mostly to wandering, which we excel at.

The streets of Florence.

After breakfast at the hotel, we made our way toward the heart of downtown Florence. Our first stop was at a little house museum devoted to Dante, author of The Divine Comedy and a resident of Florence. This was a thoroughly strange place. What we didn't realize at the time was that this building didn't actually exist until after the turn of the 20th century - the local government demolished the pre-existing building in order to build one to stand in as Dante's home. On top of that, it had this....

...a mime. A mime who appeared to be voguing for us beneath a bust of Dante. It reminded me of the mime-statues you see at Caesar's Palace or The Venetian. It was just such a strange sight.

We moved on to wander the streets of downtown Florence, which are lined with clothing stores. We spotted all sorts of American intrusions, like Foot Locker, H&M, and, of course, The Disney Store. I'm always amazed at how The Disney Store manages to work its iconography into everything. Take the border around this tray ceiling, for example.

You might have to squint to see it. No? Okay, try looking closer.

Mouse ears! Even when they try to reproduce classic "Italian" architectural motifs, the mouse ears creep in.

Next we made our way to the Piazza della Signoria, where we saw the Palazzo
Vecchio. A replica of the Statue of David is located in front of the Palazzo, as well as a few other statues. Then we headed over to the Uffizi Gallery. This contained quite a few famous works of art, including Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus". Not being an art person, I wasn't very engaged. However, there were some really pretty views of the Ponte Vecchio.

After we finished up at the Uffizi, we headed down to see the Ponte Vecchio up close.

Looking across the Ponte Vecchio, lined with gold and jewelry shops.

After several hours of wandering, we slowly made our way along Florence's cobblestone streets and back toward the hotel, stopping in the leather markets and perusing vendors' stalls along the way.

We took a short nap, had a thoroughly unremarkable dinner at a nearby restaurant, and purchased a HUGE dish of gelato for dessert that we both shared before returning to the hotel for the night.

Day 7 (Monday, October 19)
We decided to make the most of our last full day in Florence. After purchasing our train tickets to Rome for the next day, we headed to the Duomo with the (foolish?) inten
tion of climbing the 463 steps to the top. This was a thoroughly exhausting idea.

Going up...

...and up...

...until you finally reach the breathtaking view.

The view in every direction is absolutely beautiful, as are the building's architectural details.

After taking in the view and catching our breath, we descended the 463 steep, narrow steps very, very slowly.

Back on the ground, we headed back toward the Ponte Vecchio and crossed over the bridge to the Oltrarno neighborhood. We wandered the area's narrow streets, poking our heads into shops along the way.

An Oltrarno street.

A small corner grocery.

A head of Romanesco, or Roman cauliflower at the corner grocery in Oltrarno.

Mopeds and motorcycles line all the streets.

After our stroll, we headed toward the hotel, perusing leather markets (again) where Dennis kissed the Porcellino. We also encountered the most glorious thing ever: the waffle cart. Here, you can buy two small Belgian waffles, and sandwiched between them is your choice of fillings: powdered sugar, Nutella, chocolate spread, etc. It was, in a word, divine.


We finally made our way up to Via Cavour and the Galleria Michelangiolo, a small private museum with working scale models of many of Leonardo da Vinci's machines and inventions (no photos allowed, of course). Then, off to the San Lorenzo market, which had the pushiest vendors we encountered in Florence.

For our final meal in Florence, we headed back to I' Daviddino, or Little David, where we ate dinner our first night in town. It didn't disappoint the second time either. We had a caprese salad and bruschetta to start. I had tortelloni for my main course, and Dennis practically cleaned his plate before I could snap a picture of his gnocchi. For dessert, Dennis ordered the amazing ice cream truffles...

...while I was disappointed to learn they were out of tiramisu. The waitress suggested the torta nonna instead, which she described as an almond cream cake. Topped with a liberal dusting of powdered sugar, it was absolutely, positively to die for. And it didn't have an ounce of chocolate!

We wrapped up our last evening in Florence with a leisurely stroll back to the hotel, where we rested up for our rail trip to Rome the next day.

Up Next: Dennis & Erin Take Rome by Storm!

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