Parental Visit: Florence and Pisa

LAST POST!  FINALLY!  I mean, I enjoy writing these but this trip has dragged on foreeeeeever.  I have other stuff I want to write about!  And I feel like the posts have gotten longer as we go on.  Sorry about that, by the way.  Oh and I have the next two posts written and planned to post but after that, it’s free game as far as what I write about.  I reset all the votes on the poll on the right, and added a couple new options, so go ahead and vote (pleeeeeeease) and whichever gets the most votes will be up after the two I already have planned!

To recap: This is where my parents and I have been so far (in this blog retelling of the journey):

Nice/Monaco     Paris     Normandy     London     Northern Germany and Denmark     Rome     oh and the bonus things I learned

Okay, all caught up now?  Good.  So, Florence!

We took the train from Rome to Florence on the morning of December 31st, and it was by far the NICEST train I have ever been on.  Nice big new seats, glass dividers above the seat backs, free WiFi (Yeah.  ON THE TRAIN.), outlets at every seat, and…drumroll please…train workers came around with a beverage cart like on an airplane and gave us free drinks and snacks!  This was my first time taking the train in Italy, and I thought maybe they were all like that, but nope, just that one.  Actually, now that I think about it, I might have found tickets for that train for first class cheap, that’s why it was so nice… hmm.  Going to check my email confirmations now!

Update: not first class, but 2nd class premium!  Man I bet in first class they get like, recliners and 3-course meals.  I’m surprised I didn’t consider that we might not have been in coach class before, because that was SUCH a nice train.  Makes sense.  Duh Kelsey.

All right so we got into Florence and took the bus to our hotel.  It was early, like before noon, but our room was ready so we checked in and dropped off our bags.  We opted to walk back to the city center instead of take the bus (no metro in Florence) and it took about half an hour.  On the way we stopped at a little restaurant to eat; Mom and I had pasta, which was delicious as always, and Dad had a HUGE calzone!

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The first place we went was the Galleria dell Academia where Michelangelo’s famous sculpture “David” is located.  Between David and the Sistine Chapel, lots of Michelangelo these two days!  There was a small line outside to get in, which we waited in.  While we were waiting, I bought postcards from a little vendor near the line.   I knew we were only going to be in Florence one day and I wanted to be sure to get my postcards!  Those are the only souvenirs I get from everywhere I travel.

When we got into the museum, there was a lot to look at.  There were several musical instruments, including a bowl filled with water with two copper handles.  Apparently if you wet your hands and then rub the handles slowly it makes a musical-sounding noise, but I tried it and all I got was weird looks from slowly rubbing the handles and palms that smelled like pennies.  Fail.  There were also a bunch of these musical instruments on display:

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They’re Stradivariuses!  As in super famous, super expensive violins.  We weren’t supposed to take photos but I did it anyway.  Sneaksy Kelsey.  There were some rooms with a bunch of old paintings in them too.  This one was particularly powerful to me.

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After having wandered through most of the museum we finally hit pay dirt: DAVID!  We walked into a big room and it was all the way at the back.  The statue was way bigger than I expected (insert joke here).  There were 2 guys walking around telling people to not take pictures but in true Kelsey fashion, I did it anyway.  I swear, if museum police ever found my blog I’d be in trouble.

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There was another sculpture I really liked too, but I can’t remember the name of it.  I put my best Google skills to the test (aka 10 minutes of different searching while also gchatting my friend Jennie) but failed at finding any information, but from what I remember, this sculpture is Jesus after he came down from the cross (not sure who’s holding him- Mary?).  I think this statue is debated whether it was done by Michelangelo or not.

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Another cool thing was that the marble this statue was made of was probably part of some building or something, because of what the back looks like:

15th century recycling.

15th century recycling.

See the little metal piece?  After that, we went through one more room before leaving.

Busty.

Busty.

Oh and as we were leaving the museum we saw a reproduction of David just outside in the museum’s courtyard, but it was colored all strangely… not sure why.

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Kind of awkward that all of his hair is yellow. Just saying.

After the museum, we went to another museum that has another famous Michelangelo status of Mary and Jesus, but the line was crazy long and Dad and I were museum-ed out, so we passed.  We just walked around for awhile and saw a bunch of different buildings and architecture.

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Duomo di Santa Maria del Fiore

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Cupola del Brunelleschi

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Battistero di S. Giovanni

A fair amount of time was spent wandering around trying to find the different towers we could see from a distance, but not when we were actually close to them because of the other buildings blocking them.

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Left: Badia Fiorentina
Right: Bargello

This here is in the Palazzo Vecchio.  See the statue at the bottom?  Look familiar?  Yet another reproduction of our good friend David.

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I really wanted to go to the Ponte Vecchio at sunset, since it was on one of the postcards I bought and it was BEAUTIFUL.  The Ponte Vecchio is a bridge that crosses over the Arno River.  We got there just as sunset was starting:

This is the Ponte Vecchio.  We were on some other bridge crossing the river.

This is the Ponte Vecchio. We were on some other bridge crossing the river.

The view the other direction was beautiful too.

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While we were on the bridge, Dad spotted a bunch of people on a hill at what seemed to be a lookout point some ways away.  We were like, let’s go!  So we started booking it in that direction and actually had no trouble finding it, and I’m so glad we walked there!  The view was beautiful as the sun was still going down.

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It was so unbelievably beautiful.  There are no words.  I’ll just let the photos do the talking.

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Oh, and photographic evidence that I was there:

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We hung out on the hill for a long time, until it was dark.  There were a few little stands selling souvenirs and food, another statue of David (makes sense… the hill is called the Piazzale Michelangelo), and a woman playing music and singing.  I sat and listened to her for quite awhile.

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After we had our fill of beautiful views and music, we headed back down the hill.

La Torre della Porta San Niccolo

La Torre della Porta San Niccolo

We walked back across the same bridge, and this time I got a picture in front of it.

I'm looking kinda puffy there!  I blame the two coats I was wearing.  NOT all the pasta.

I’m looking kinda puffy there! I blame the two coats I was wearing. NOT all the pasta.

We bought a bottle of champagne (it was New Year’s Eve, after all!) and took the bus back to our hotel for the evening.  I know, I know, I’m 23 and should have done something to celebrate NYE.  However, 1) I don’t speak Italian, 2) my parents were staying in and it wouldn’t be safe to go out alone, 3) I didn’t know anyone (although some guy on the sidewalk did try to chat me up while I was away from my parents), and 4) I just plain didn’t want to!  I was completely happy staying in for the night and was asleep long before midnight.  However I did treat myself by using up the soon-to-expire minutes on my parents’ cell phone to call and talk to my boyfriend for the first time in a week.  Happy 2013 to me!

The next morning we slept in then had a great free breakfast in the hotel lobby.  We packed up, checked out, and took the bus back to the train station, where we caught a regional train to Pisa to see–what else–the Leaning Tower!  We hopped on a bus from the train station and luckily some guy told us when to get off, since we couldn’t see the tower from the stop.

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Mom and Dad got a little silly.

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It was super cool to see.  In some of the photos it looks more lean-y than others, but trust me, in person it’s super tilted!  There were people on a lookout deck on top though so it must be stable.  We walked around for a while and took pictures, while Dad read some information posted about the tower, then got on the bus to head back to the train station.

There's a big church next to it.

There’s a big church next to it.

We ate (what else… pasta and pizza!) at a little cafe near the station and got there in plenty of time to catch our train back to Nice.  We rode it to Genoa, then had to switch trains and go to Ventimiglia, a town in Italy right on the border of France.  From there we had to switch to a regional train to go back to Nice.  There were a few minutes of frustration when we couldn’t buy tickets to Nice at the machines, but two different people told us to get on the train and if someone came around to check we could buy tickets from them.  Umm okay… luckily no one came around checking tickets, so free trip!

By this point we were close enough to France that people were speaking French again, YAY!  I really hate not speaking the language of the country and making them speak English.  I always offered French, but no one in Italy seemed to speak it.  On the train, I asked another guy about the ticket thing and he didn’t speak English, but he did speak French!  I also gave someone advice about where to get off the train.  It felt so good to be getting back in my own turf where I spoke the language and could give directions instead of always being the one asking.

The train dropped us off at the train station really close to my apartment, so we walked from there, buying some fruit for breakfast the next day on the way!  We were all happy to be back safely after our crazy trip.  So that’s everything!  I hope you’ve enjoyed this slightly-too-drawn out journey of ours.  Tune in soon for more updates on my life lately, and remember to vote in the poll for the upcoming post!!

Categories: Travels | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Parental Visit: Florence and Pisa

  1. aftonjoy

    Keep a journal on your big Feb trips!

  2. Clarette

    Arno River photos – really great!

  3. Dad

    Whew! I’m getting tired all over again reading about this trip. The next part of it is traveling back home for 24 hours with nearly all of it being in the daylight.

  4. Evelyn Dorothy

    . I have really enjoyed all the posts and want you to know you did a wonderful job remembering and posting and getting the pictures in the right place. What a wonderful experience you are getting and I can’t wait to hear what your folks have to say.

  5. Gloria

    I bet is was a sweet and sorrowful parting as you had to say goodbye to your parents. That said, your time there is flying by so swiftly!

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