February 4th, 2006

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*waves*

Dude! I go away for 2 1/2 days and I have to do Skip 150 to catch up on my LJ Friends page. Well, at least browse through and check for import stuff from Friends, skipping most Community posts. Seems that half a dozen of you have the flu or a cold or have a car in the shop or are jobless or about to become so. Best wishes all!
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F L O R E N C E

Just got back tonight from Florence and am catching up with email and LJ here in Rovello Poro. I don't know that I can really do Florence justice here, at the moment, especially as tired as I am, but I will try.

What an INCREDIBLE city!

Caleb and I decided rather last minute to go there, since Dagmar was going to Hannover, Germany, for a work thing, and we needed to go elsewhere. It was going to be Rome but Florence was closer. So not a lot of advance planning, no real research or planning in advance beyond getting a hotel booked, and knowing Florence has a ton of wonders, especially art- and architecture-wise.

So, what did we do and see?

We arrived Friday around 6, after a 3-hr. train trip from Milan. The hotel was wonderful, located smack between the Duomo (cathedral) and the Uffizi on a major street, plus because it's the off-off season, the rate was under 100 euros, as opposed to the usual 300+ during high season. That night we did a lot of walking, through the narrow streets, over the Ponte Vecchio, along the river Arno, through the square by the Uffizi-Medici complex, etc. We also found a pretty decent restaurant! We were pretty tired, but all along I kept saying 'I love this!' The city is so insanely rich culturally, with the most amazing little shops, food, people, architecture. It was total overload.

Saturday was a total whirlwind. In the morning there was breakfast at the hotel, then a visit to the Duomo, which predictably was incredible. Caleb did some shopping after that and then I think we went for coffee and treats (which we do like every 4 hours in Italy).

Then we went to the Uffizi, where we spent by far the most time looking at the amazing ancient Roman sculpture collection in the 'Arno hall' -- which everybody else was IGNORING! (WTF?????) We also went in and saw the regular Medieval / Renaissance collection, although we really only paid attention to the first 1/2 or so because it was too much to take in. We recognized a LOT, however, and saw many famous works, like Boticelli's Venus, two Rembrandt self-portraits, some very famous religious paintings. We had lunch at the museum, which was very expensive but convenient and with a great view across the rooftops of Florence.

The rest of Saturday? Um... Freshened up at the hotel I think, went walking a lot more, probably snacked again, went into the Riccardo Palazzo and saw the famous 'Procession of the Magi' chapel, with the Medicis faces on the figures. We went across the river and went up some steep cobblestone streets for a while, then walked more and more and more... We walked a LOT. Oh, and we found this little Museum of Ancient Sculpture as part of the Ricccardo Palazzo, which was more ancient sculpture. For dinner we found another nice restaurant. At night we just kept on going and going. There was gelato involved and it was all too fab.

Today we were very, very sore from the miles of walking yesterday, but managed to enjoy a couple hours at the national archaelogy museum (Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan and Roman), ate more pastry and coffee, checked out more statues (favorite: Cellini's 'Perseus' with the Medusa head), people-watched. We got a train around 3 and took it back to Milan, where we arrived at 6. We were home around 7:15 and Caleb made dinner. Dagmar will be home tomorrow.

Doesn't begin to describe how awesome Florence was, but at least I've recorded what I *did*. LOTS of pictures when I get back to the States.