Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Florence—Early Days

It always seems you have more time on a trip…until you really sketch out the days and see that time is super limited.

I managed to find breakfast by following others across the street…I think they thought they were being stalked.  Here I had wi fi so I could catch up

My first full day in Florence was spent getting acclimated.  Kari had the day off (Easter Monday) so she met me here.

We did go over the amount of days we had and came up w/a plan for my stay and our trip to Venice later in the week.

Today was the day for me to get “acclimated”  Kari has let me know that all roads lead to The Duomo…so we started here.

IMG_8733IMG_8740 Duomo is going under a “cleaning” so the scaffolding takes away from its beauty, but just a little.

Man oh man….was it crowded!  Not only were spring breakers here…but the locals too, slowly walking their dogs, not cleaning up after them (Watch your step!) and probably disliking the idea that “high season” was just about to kick off.

The vendors were coming out again. Kari said they had been absent until this day.  But weather was turning, so this made sense.

We walked around the city…The “Carousel”  Piazza, Ponte Vecchio , River Arno.  Lunch was Minestrone soup at a lovely restaurant.


Our city walk did not acclimate me too much…but I knew some time, a map, and being willing to get lost, would get my legs under me.

It rained all of Monday night…I was afraid my boast of bring spring was not true…but the next morning was a mix of light skies and dark.  It was slightly raining as I headed out.

Tuesday I was charged with getting to the Duomo on my own to meet Kari after class.  I knew one “long” way, but a glance at the map made me realize that my road pretty much…led to The Duomo.

The early start insured that the Piazza was nearly empty.  I was incredibly close to having the  Golden Baptistery Doors to myself…but as I headed towards it, a school group approached, so I only got a couple of close up pictures.

BaptistryBaptistry Door Panel I will go back early in the AM and get full shots…but this will have to do for now.  These guys hang out above the Golden Doors

Baptistry Door - above the golden doors Don’t know the history…but they look pretty cool…very guardian like.

The thing about cities that are old, is that you just kind of look around and all of a sudden you see cool doors or windows or some such thing.  These doors are right between two pizzerias near The Duomo.  I wouldn't mind having these types of doors at home!

random door They might be brand new and refurbished…but hey…I don’t know that so I like to think they are ancient.

Next I had about an hour before I was to meet Kari so I decided to climb the The Giotto.  It is the Duomo’s bell tower and a whopping 417 or so steps to the top.  No lift is available. 

My ankle is still bothering me…so I figured if I was going to do it, I should do it early in the day…before the crowds…before the students AND I was soon to learn that this was a good strategy as there is only one way up…and down…and that involves the same staircase.

I paid my 6 Euro…I love how you PAY to do exercises in tourism like this.  I did not find it exceptionally hard…hiking in Hong Kong involves many steps…and they do have convenient “breaks” in the tower to take pictures (and catch your breath)

This picture is from inside the tower looking out a tiny tiny hole in the building

IMG_8759 I’m thinking The Duomo is the most photographed building in this city…you just can’t help taking pictures of it!

Up I go to the first platform w/windows (errr, rest area)

Bascilica de Santa CroceIMG_8762

Off to the next bit of the climb.  The stairs get narrower and wind tighter and tighter…making me very pleased that it was not crowded and I did not have to maneuver around people coming down…nor was I getting pushed up the stairs.

The skies were very mixed…literally one side of the tower had blue skies, and the other dark …which made for some dramatic pictures.  I also don’t think there is a prettier city to photograph from above then Florence…but then again I am partial!

IMG_8783This is the very top of the Duomo!  IMG_8782If you click on this picture…you can see the people at the top. Their climb is 50 more steps…they get views w/out fencing…but they DON’T get the view of The Duomo itself! 


Too soon it was time to come down.  I was pleased that when I got to the top I did not have to sit and rest (plenty did) and one man, much younger than me asked how much further up it was (a lot) as I descended past him. 

I met Kari for coffee (this is our meeting place) and off we went for a walking tour of the city. 

I saw a neat 3K walk starting over at the Palazzo Pitti.  I have come to really like gardens…and this place is past the Ponte Vechio and promised to be quiet…making walking and picture taking much easier.

IMG_8791Heading towards the Ponte Vecchio

Kari gets into EVERYTHING for free (well, it’s included) w/her Fierenz Card.  It would prove invaluable later in the trip.

We found the gardens not quite tended yet (ok, not at all), the fountains were not turned on…however, the views were amazing, and as hoped for, no crowds. 

Oops…here is ONE flower! The place wasn’t completely barren.


IMG_8793 This is from right inside as you climb towards the gardens.

The walk was great, yet windy.  This guy was just hanging out:

IMG_8796  And more great views


We walked along, visited the Porcelain museum before heading out and to lunch.  Today was Paninis.  This place is packed!  We waited almost 20 minutes…for a great sandwich…the sandwiches are 3.50…so he must do a HECK of a business!  It stayed busy even as we were leaving.

Kari had class so we planned to meet afterwards.  The girls cooked dinner…Kari did the dishes…and I enjoyed them so much.

I made my way home (Kari walks me less and less far every night to boost my confidence.

Tomorrow is Uffizi and Academia…DAVID!


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