Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Travels in Italy - Day 2

I spent all morning writing a blog entry and then lost it through some glitch in the program. Just had to whine about that.

We spent a really nice second day in Florence, and we are definitely finding our European groove and going with the flow, which means a little bread and cheese for breakfast, a little muesli with our coffee, and then off for a relaxing day in the city, just the way we like it. It takes a day or two to get into vacation mode and really just relax and enjoy yourself while on vacation. People who take “staycations” at home really just don’t get it, because staying at home means one thing-staying busy. You really have to get away from your home element in order to let go and enjoy yourself.

The weather has been beautiful up here, perhaps a bit warm, but with a nice breeze. The evenings have been stellar, warm enough for shorts and a t-shirt, but cool enough to be thoroughly enjoyable. The people we’ve met so far have been really warm and nice, much like many of the Southern Europeans we’ve encountered, including Greece and Rome, not to mention S. France, where they are much friendlier than Parisians. Even though we’re in tourist purgatory, the prices haven’t been that bad for food, and we’ve found a few gems.

The architecture here in Florence is pretty spectacular, and the main attraction is the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, or Duomo (Dome), which dominates the city. All roads lead to Dome, as N has indicated. Pretty clever, if you ask me. We haven’t actually gone inside the Dome because it’s way too crowded, but it’s quite a site to behold from the outside. The attention to detail is mind boggling, though it speaks of the wealth and power of the church, not to mention the excesses. Nonetheless, it’s truly spectacular, I can’t stop looking at it. The colors are from different kinds of marble, there is no paint used.

Our days are falling into a familiar pattern. We have an enjoyable breakfast in the hotel, very Euro with breads, fruits, yogurt, and dark, black coffee. We then head off to see some major monuments, and though they’re touristy, you have to check these things out. In addition to the Dome, we went to the Accademia di Belle Arti to see Michelangelo’s statue of David. I’m not a connoisseur of sculpture, or of Renaissance art, not like R, but it’s pretty impressive when you see it in person. The details are stunning.

I’m not sure the kids were as impressed, but with R’s excellent narration, we sure learned a lot of cool stuff. AND, we are slated to study the Dark Ages and the Renaissance this school year, so the timing of this trip is excellent, because as I’ve just learned, Florence is the birthplace and center of the Renaissance. How cool is that?

In between the Dome and David, we usually wander the quiet streets of Florence looking for a place to eat, and as you can imagine, there is no shortage of choices. The important issue becomes good food at a good price. Enter TripAdvisor. How did we ever live without it. We actually happened upon a really nice restaurant called Hostaria il desco which won rave reviews from Trip Advisor. The food was excellent, though we are not completely familiar with the eating drill out here. They really take their meals seriously, with three courses, wine, dessert, and a cigarette. I think we looked like rookies out there, but no matter. They were still very nice to us.

Afterward, we found a killer gelato place, very much by chance, because you can’t spit in this town and not hit a gelato place. Apparently, there is a science to finding a good one, and the one we discovered was highly rated by Trip Advisor. Afterward we looked it up, and sure enough, it scored high. The gelato was outstanding, and we learned some important tips to rating gelato, which I find a little over the top, but it’s nice to know.

We walked around because it was so nice out, and ended up at our hotel around 10:00PM. We were exhausted, and still jet lagged, so it was nice to get some rest.

Stay tuned for more, and thanks for reading.

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