BootsnAll Travel Network

Statues and Streets

Written at 7:22 PM, 10-1-06 in Florence, Italy

I feel confident in saying that today went more smoothly than any day over the past…mmm…week or so. Not that my days in Greece had any other problems than the torrential downpour—but that in itself posed a pretty big bump in my plans.

After posting my last blog, I returned back to my hotel room for some R&R. And what luck, a movie was on television! So I watched Spiderman in Italian. Oh sure, I picked up a few pieces of the dialogue, but let me tell you: You really start to notice the actors’ and actresses’ facial expression and body language when you don’t understand half of what they are saying. Spiderman was a pretty good movie to have on, actually, because there’s a lot of action and not very much important dialogue.

That pretty much wrapped up my night. I did a bit of work on the novel before bed, but I decided to have an early evening since (1) there wasn’t really much to do and (2) I wanted to get up early.

Well, I didn’t get up early—that is to say, I didn’t get up at 7:30. When it came time to get up so I could get breakfast and head to the Galleria dell’Accademia, I basically went, “meh” and then rolled back over to enjoy another hour of sleep. Well, when 8:30 came around, I did the same thing. I finally managed to get up at 9:00 and head down for some breakfast.

Now, let me comment about breakfast. I’ve had a pretty wide range of free “breakfasts” offered while I’ve been staying at the hostel. Some were good, some were bad (one included a hard roll with a piece of butter and some instant coffee), but none compared to the breakfast I was in store for. There wasn’t anything particularly special about this breakfast, besides that it was all-you-can-eat and had a pretty wide range of things available. It was self-serve, and there was no warm food, but there was enough that I could gorge, as well as slip in some extras for lunch. I could get used to this hotel thing! It saved me buying two meals!

I stashed my bag at the hotel and headed out for the Accademia. Well lo and behold, I was in for another long wait. The line wasn’t nearly so long as that of the Uffizi, but it took about the same amount of time—an hour to an hour and a half. I kept in good spirits though. My stomach was full, I had music, and I really couldn’t ask for much more. If you reserve tickets like two or three days in advanced, it costs a little more and you cut your wait to ten or fifteen minutes (this is true for both the Uffizi and Accademia), but I didn’t know I’d be in Florence yet, so that sort of ruled that option out.

The Accademia was cool (not nearly as much as the Uffizi, after all, it didn’t have an awesome DaVinci exhibit.) The main sight in the Accademia is Michelangelo’s David. I be out of the loop or something, because I had no concept of just how big the statue was. I’d gotten hints of it in my travel guide, but walking around the corner into the rotunda made me just stop for a moment and be like “Wow, that’s a big naked guy.” Seriously though, it was a truly grand sculpture and was definitely a step above any other carvings I’ve seen. The rest of the art in the Accademia was religious. It was interesting to look at and read about, but honestly, everyone is paying the eight euros (or whatever it was) just to see David. There was also a cool side exhibit, which didn’t have many people, but which I still enjoyed. It had several interactive computers talking about the role of music in Italy in the Renaissance. They had a wide range of instruments used here in Florence, and seeing the viola actually made me wish I had mine to play.

I finished up there and headed for the The Duomo, which is a big plaza that includes the towering Cattedrale Di Santa Maria Del Fiore. The plaza was quite nice, and the church was very unique in appearance. The stone, rather than uniformly colored white or grey, blended green rock as well as several other colors. Because it was Sunday, the church wouldn’t open until 1:30, so I had a bit of a wait. It turned out, though, that I had a lot of a wait because they didn’t allow anyone in shorts to go in. I wasn’t bothered though, I had other things to see that didn’t require a wait.

I headed across the Arnor River toward Palazzo Pitti, which would take me into the Boboli Gardens. This was definitely a good choice! I spent all afternoon in the gardens, walking the entire perimeter. The gardens had neatly trimmed hedgerows, dark winding paths, and plenty of bird life, making for some very nice walks. There were also statues and fountains all over, giving the spacious garden a tendered feel, despite many remote paths and open areas. I think this was just what I needed. After being stuck in a hostel for a few days, confined to a ferry, and spending far more time than necessary at the train station, I really needed to get out into a place more in touch with nature. Now, a garden isn’t the best option, but it certainly did the job. I came out of it feeling refreshed and optimistic.

From the Garden I made my way up one of the hills in the South of Florence and toward the Piazzale Michelangelo. A friend suggested that I see it at sunset, but as it was only about 4:30, I had other plans. The Piazzale offered a great view, but I was a little disappointed. It was doubling as a parking lot, so aside from a little path along the perimeter, you couldn’t really appreciate the area. There was also a big green statue of David that replaced the real one. I headed up a path behind the Piazzale and toward the Franciscan Monastery of San Miniato Al Monte.

I really liked this Monastery. Less decorated than the Dominican Monastery I went to yesterday, this place was dark and silent, made mostly of beautiful gray marble. I think it was the darkness of the place that made it really appeal to me. There was something secretive about it. The real reason I came up here required about an hour wait on my part, so I went back outside and laid back on a flat slab of rock and fell asleep. I awoke right when I wanted, 5:40, and headed back into the monastery. Then, from the distant recesses of the monastery, came the low chants of the monks. It was quieter than I expected, but it was still really cool to hear monks chanting in an actual monastery. I hung around for a while and then set out to tramp back across town to pick up my pack and relocate myself to the hostel.

I should mention something about the streets of Florence—they’re crazy. Not because of the traffic, though that’s pretty crazy too. It’s all the street vendors and people with fold out stands selling sunglasses and handbags. I think I saw the same belts, sunglasses and handbags at least a hundred times over the course of the day (no exaggeration). There’s little electric cars and other junk as well. I suppose if one was on vacation and shopping here in Florence, it might be fun to look around and barter a bit. I can’t afford the weight or the money to buy them, so I just tried my best to ignore the constant barrage of appeals to buy this or that.

I returned to the hotel, picked up my pack and then checked into the hostel. The hostel I’m staying at is called Ostello Archi Rossi, and it seems like a decent enough place. I think I might’ve enjoyed staying here, had I not been forced to switch sleeping arrangements all three of my nights here in Florence. As it is, I’ve got a bit of free internet time and a lot of free anything time tonight, so after posting this, I’ll probably head off for a bit of writing. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark is on in the TV room, so maybe I’ll check that out as well. Who knows? Tomorrow I head on to Cinque Terra and from there, Rome.

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-52 responses to “Statues and Streets”

  1. Lori says:

    Hey Greg! sounds like you’re having a good trip even if you are seeing a bit too much of the trains 😀 It’s a pity that you’re only going to the ‘must sees’ in italy though, as all you’ll really get there are the over-priced, over-crowded tourist traps with lots of street venders (which btw, it is illegal to buy from people sellings things they are carrying or have on make shift cardboard stands/sheets – the only legal people to buy from are those with real stands in the market areas). Anyways, there are so many greater smaller towns full of things to do and see but without the crowds that you could go to if you had the time and probably enjoy yourself a lot more.

    If you run into anyone hasseling you and not willing to go away tell them vafaculo but be prepared for them to get a bit pissed off 😀

    too bad you’re not going to milano, I could have hooked you up with some cool people to hang out with

    Have fun,

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