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Italy - Day 5 (Florence in a Day)
Unfortunaly, it was not a good night for me. I only got 3 hours of sleep and was up most of the night, every 15 minutes getting sick. I am pretty sure it was because I drank wine and had an allergy pill. I don't think the two meshed well because my body was acting as though there was something toxic and attempting to expel every last ounce of what was in me. Not fun for me or Melanie because I didn't make it very easy for her to sleep either. Rough way to start the day.
Even though the evening wasn't awesome, I knew I would regret missing out on anything. So I put on my big girl pants as Ben would say and tried my best to enjoy the day. We headed over to the Duomo and Campanile Di Giotto (Giotto's Bell Tower) for our first attractions. Walking the narrow streets, passing the vendors, and looking up at the shuttered windows is probably my favorite part of being in Italy. It takes you back to a time slower, simpler time.
The Duomo was built when the people of France wanted a church that rivaled the churches of other cities. The first stone was laid in 1296 and it took 170 years to complete. The dome was designed by Fillipo Brunelleschi and that portion alone took 16 years to construct. Although the church is simply designed on the interior, the rich colors and intricate designs on the outside mark this as my favorite structure here so far. It almost doesn't seem real when you are standing next to it. We climbed the 463 stairs to the top of the dome. It was a hike. The passageways were narrow and the stairs steeper than the dome in Rome. At the top, the view was worth the effort. You could look down into the church and appreciate the vast size. A "few more steps" led us to the steeple of the dome. Panoramic views of Florence took our breath away. We were able to see Giotto's Bell Tower, Santa Croce, and Fiume Arno. Admittedly, I wasn't feeling well at the top, but I told myself to take a breath and enjoy it because I will likely not be coming back. I am glad that I did! This was by far my favorite "structure" of the trip!
We descended back to street level and ate at a cute little bistro next to the church. We ordered a fruit cup with our meal...love the fruit here and it has been a needed item as there are a lot of carbs at every meal. Due to buying the "Il Grande Museo Del Duomo" ( a random happenstance of surfing the internet), we were granted the ability to skip all lines and enter 5 locations in the dome area. So we went to the Battistero next. This is the oldest building in the square. The octagon shape represents the eighth day or the time of the Risen Christ. It was constructed in the mid-11th century. The interior has both Roman and Islamic influences. The mosaics on the dome are spectacular. Each ring telling different stories. We took some time to sit down and enjoy the scenes around us.
We were ready after a short rest to climb our next set of stairs. Giotto's Bell Tower was built in 1334, started by Giotto and finished by Francesco Talenti. This tower was around 300 steps, but the nice thing was the breaks at each level to look out over the city. These stairs were deserving of the Minnesotan phrase, "Uff da." The view, yet again, was worth it! This time we had views of the dome and a different vantage point of the town. It is crazy to look down and think that we climbed to that height in a relatively short span of time. These towers/domes have definitely become a favorite for us. They give you such a great sense of what the towns are like.
We walked through the wealthy portion of the area to arrive at Ponte Vecchio, one of the most photographed bridges in the world. It was so cute...little homes built into the side and shops lined each side. The river was quite pretty and bridges followed the twists and turns of the city. We were hoping to find out how much a boat ride would cost us, but we couldn't figure out how to get down to the water.
On our way back, we passed through the Piazza Della Signoria where another statue of David exists and another beautiful fountain rests. The facades of many of the buildings in this area were very cool. We came back to Hotel Arianna for a nap. Mercato Centrale was not too far from the hotel, so we went there to pick up our scarves and do a little shopping. The gal whom we bought scarves from was very sweet. She helped us pick out the right colors and was very curious about our travels. She suggested our location for dinner, Da Pinnochio. This was the perfect restaurant because we ordered a cold pasta salad. We have had wonderful weather while we have been here, but it leaves us craving something cool, not hot pizza.
Early night back at the hotel to plan our Lake Como portion of the trip. We needed to rebook our hotel. Ran into a little bit of an issue with transportation from the train station to where we were staying. When we called the hotel, they hung up on us twice because we didn't speak Italian. It would have been a bad idea to show up and not have anyone to talk to if we got stuck. We rebooked in Como instead and even saved 4 euros per night! Off to bed!
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Ben, Julie, and Amelia