After getting off the train at Florence's Santa Maria Novella station we started hiking to our hotel. The hotel was only about a quarter mile from the train station, but it sure seemed like about 10 miles. The hot Italian sun was beating down on us, and by the time we reached Hotel Casci we were super sweaty and tired. But, the hotel was nice (read: the A/C worked) and so I decided to take a short (4 hour) nap while Michelle went out shopping. She finally got me awake around 8:30 and we headed out to dinner.
Florence is much more quaint town than Rome. Streets are narrow and sidewalks are smaller. The hotel recommended an EXCELLENT restaurant just down the street. I had a dish called Gnudi, which was very very good. Gnudi is a large dumpling made from Ricotta cheese and spinach rolled up inside of mozzarella, and covered with alfredo sauce. Sooooooo good. Michelle had Linguini with clams and mussels, which was also very tasty. In fact, she liked it so much that she wanted to go back there again for the same meal. Perhaps my habit of getting stuck on a dish is rubbing off onto her?
On day 2 we went to the Galleria Accademia
, which is where Michaelangelo's famous "David" sculpture is. It is hard to visualize how magnificent this sculpture is, standing 16 feet tall and carved out of a single rock. The amount of detail is crazy, down to the creases in the knuckle of his hand. We sat and stared at the sculpture for at least 30 minutes, and also perused the other exhibits in the museum. After this museum we headed over to the Museo dell Opera Duomo. The largest church in Florence is called the Duomo, and most of the statues and art (including another Pieta from Michaelangelo) from this Church were moved here for better care. We grabbed some lunch, and got on a train for a day trip to Siena
Siena is a small Medieval town southwest of Florence. It apparently hasn't changed much since the 1500s, and still retains that old-school feeling. Walking around it is easy to imagine what it was like back then. The main plaza in the center of town is called the Campo, and is actually a site for an annual horse race, with one horse representing each neighborhood of Siena. The race is on July 2nd every year, and preparations were underway while we were walking around. The weird thing about Siena is that no restaurants open before 7:30. We had planned on having an early dinner there before catching the last train back to Florence, but we would have missed the train if we waited that long. I guess it is just too hot there and the restaurant owners don't want to get all sweaty by working in the heat. We came back to Florence on the 8pm train, and just ate take-out food in our room.
Guess what we did on the day 3... yep, we went to some museums! Yaaayyyy museums! In the morning we visited the Museum of Science
, which had things like Galileo's original telescopes, old sundials, instruments of medicine and electricity, and all kinds of other things. There was something like 20 different rooms and exhibits, lots of cool stuff to see. After this museum we signed up for a tour of the Uffizi Museum
. The Medici family, which ruled Florence for 300 years, used this building as their office (uffizi is the italian word for office), and it was turned into a museum when the family died off. Too many paintings and sculptures to see in one day, but the tour guide gave us the highlights. The coolest ones that we saw were Boticelli's "Spring" and "Birth of Venus", but there were also cool pieces from Michaelangelo, Rafael, Donatello, and Leondardo. Yes all the teenage mutant ninja turtles are represented in the Uffizi. Right outside the uffizi is a cool bridge called Ponte Vecchio
, which is a nice Kodak Picture Spot. We finished off the day by going to the Florence Symphony, who performed Mahler's Symphony #5. They did an excellent job, and the principal trumpet player was awesome.
On the last day we rested. Not really. We visited the biggest church in Florence, Santa Maria del Fiore
. Lots of cool paintings on the walls, and of course great frescoes on the ceilings. Michelle ate McDonald's at the train station (yes, I'm serious) and we headed out for Florence.