Monday, November 12, 2012
The Land of Leather
Florence, oh Florence. It's a pretty hard spot to fill, that first weekend after fall break in Paris, London and Dublin. I mean, it's not easy to come after that and be impressive. But if any town could do it, it's Florence. I will say, I've heard lots of talk about how Florence is the perfect town for students studying abroad and it's has all the appeal of a small town and a big city. It is a great city and I really enjoyed my time there, but I'm glad I'm studying in Rome. Because Florence is such a great city for students, they are everywhere, which sort of waters down the Italian experience. I feel like after one weekend I covered Florence fairly well, while after almost three months in Rome I still feel like there so much of the city left to explore.
We got into Florence around noon and grabbed some lunch at a nearby cafe before we went on our first tour. Our first tour took us to see the Palazzo Vecchio, where the Medici family lived and the original location of Michelangelo's David. Then the tour took us to see Ponte Vecchio Bridge, the oldest bridge in Florence which is populated by precious little jewelry shops. After the tour, we made our first trip to the leather market. As I assume you know, Florence is renowned for its great leather and its fantastic leather market filled with that great smell of leather and lots of vendors with flexible prices. EEEEEKKKK!! Better than a candy store. And to answer the question I'm sure you're all thinking of, yes I got a purse. That was leather market round 1. After the market we spent some time on the Ponte Vecchio Bridge gawking at the glittering jewelry in the showcase windows. And then, then, came quite possibly the best part of the trip. Two words: Mexican food. I know what you're thinking: Mexican food, in Italy? But y'all. It was good. Like really good. Maybe it's because I haven't had Mexican food in almost three months, but still, it was goooooood. And this is coming from a girl who doesn't even like the Mexican food in North Carolina. These people were smart. That restaurant was packed. I know it's silly that we ate Mexican food for one of our two dinners in Florence, but oh my it was worth it.
a replica of Michelangelo's David in its original location
rubbing the hog's nose so that someday I will return to Florence
in front of the Ponte Vecchio bridge
The next day we got up early to shop around town a bit before we went on a day trip to Vernazza, a town in the Tuscan countryside. We visited a castle that now functions as a winery. So we took a tour of the wine cellars and then enjoyed a lunch of cheeses and meats (made in house) and tasted some of their wines. It was all great and the view from the castle was just absolutely incredible. When we got back to Florence, we embarked on leather market round 2, then went elsewhere in the city to shop around before returning for leather market round 3. That night we grabbed some dinner at an Italian restaurant we stumbled upon that was crowded with lots of old Italian men and women. You can't really ask for a better approval rating than that. And it was fantastic. And then after dinner, we grabbed some hot chocolate to warm us up. Sidenote, the hot chocolate here in Italy is no normal hot chocolate. It is literally hot chocolate. As in melted chocolate. So thick and so rich.
me in il Duomo
me and the dome
the vineyard in the Tuscan countryside
view from the castle
on the grounds of the castle
the grapes drying out
the casks of wine
love them. so much.
looking for restaurants
the hot chocolate
The next morning we had one final tour before leaving the city, but before we met up for that, we managed to squeeze in leather market round 4. Then the tour took us to see the Duomo and finally the Academia, which houses Michelangelo's David and Michelangelo's prisoners. The David was magnificent. The only thing I wasn't expecting was it's size. It is so massive! If you're ever in Italy, the David is a must. After the museum we had a little time to grab lunch and walk around town just once more before hopping back on the bus to Rome. The bus ride was cold and rainy and thoroughly enjoyable by my tastes. And what made it even better, instead of dropping us all off at the school and then us having to take the bus back to our apartment, they dropped us off right in front of our apartment. It was just a nice little surprise. To end the night last night, Abbie, Lindsey and I watched the childhood classic "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town." I hadn't seen it before and Abbie was absolutely shocked, so we just had to watch it. And because we're just loving celebrating Christmas, tonight we're going to watch Elf. Y'all should join in on the early Christmas festivities too, you who are in the states, a country that puts tinsel and Christmas lights on anything that is immobile for at least 5 seconds. What I wouldn't give to be there. I'm really having to keep from buying Christmas decorations to deck out the apartment. I think I'll just have to hold on to all of my Christmas spirit until I get back in the states.
outside the Duomo
Ciao! And Merry early Christmas!