Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Day 58: A visit to Italy (part 1)

Hey everyone!! Sorry I have been neglecting this blog but I've just been having such a fantastic time in Italy and also haven't had access to an actual computer (just wifi on my phone) until recently. Right now I am in Rome for my last day here. I've been going hard the last few days with my sightseeing so I'm taking it a little easier today, although I'm headed out into the city later. It's only 1pm here so I still have plenty of the rest of the day. I'm headed back to France on Saturday morning, but first I'm headed to Naples tomorrow from where I will venture to Pompeii (and maybe Herculaneum) on Friday.

So because I'm relaxing a little bit today, I decided to update the blog with photos and stories from my trip so far. I had an excellent time in Florence (despite a lot of rain and even a bit of snow flurries!). I couchsurfed with a girl named Sara who is really great. She lives slightly outside Florence but it's only about 30 minutes on the bus so it wasn't bad at all to go into the city each day.

So first my journey to Italy was a little rocky. I flew EasyJet, which was probably my first mistake, but it was 90€ round-trip so I can't really complain too much. We were supposed to fly straight to Pisa but got diverted to Bologna for 2 hours of waiting because of a problem at Pisa airport. So I was too late to see much of Pisa before heading to Florence, although I did make it to the Leaning Tower of Pisa for half an hour.


Finally I made it to Florence, and met Sara at the train station. The next morning she had to go to school, so I went into the city on my own. I visited the Duomo (conquered all 463 of those mother effing steps!), the church and the Baptistery attached.


I also visited the Accademia museum, which houses the famous David statue by Michaelangelo. You're not allowed to take pictures of it though (why??). The rest of the museum itself is not very impressive, but of course it's a must-see if you want to see the David.


I DO have this picture of me with the copy of the David outside the Palazzo Vecchio (which is in the location where the David was originally placed), which is the best I could manage.

Next to the Palazzo Vecchio is the Uffizi. It's an art museum, and it was more impressive than the Accademia in my opinion. It's also not allowed to take pictures there, but the artwork is nice and it's much bigger than the Accademia. The famous Birth of Venus painting by Botticelli is there.

On day 2, I went back to the Duomo area and climbed the Bell Tower (Campanile), which is 414 steps. It's lovely, and has a great view which includes the Duomo in it.


After the climbing madness, I then went to Dante's House (which is not that interesting unless you are really into The Divine Comedy and Dante's life), and walked to the Santa Croce church, which has some famous graves in it, namely Michaelangelo, but also Machiavelli, Galileo, and Dante, all famous Florence residents.

Michaelangelo's grave, which he designed
 I then visited the Galileo Museum, which has many scientific instruments like old telescopes and compasses and other Renaissance science-y stuff. I found it fascinating but if you're not interested in that, you may not care much about it.

They also had THIS for some reason.... *SHUDDER*


The next morning, I ventured over the Ponte Vecchio (the famous bridge lined with gold and silver shops) to the Pitti Palace. It's a huge place that once belonged to the Medici family, but has been occupied by various people, most famously Napoleon. I saw Napoleon's bathroom! It has a huge art collection from the Medicis and the rooms themselves are artwork. There's also a costume gallery (featuring gowns from the 17th century onward), a modern art gallery (which I didn't visit), and huge gardens behind it. The Boboli Gardens must be magnificent in the summer, because they are pretty even in the winter, although it's not very fun to wander around them in a rainy/snowy mix!

View of the city from Boboli Gardens. (Note the snow-capped mountains in the back)

Some tips for Florence:
  • Buy the Firenze Card. It is 50 € but it includes all the museums and sights listed above, and also gives you free bus travel if you need it. The card is valid for 3 days, which is a good amount of time to stay in Florence. You can buy it at the Tourist Information Office in Santa Maria Novella church across the square from the train station. I figured up that I saved 16.50 € by using the card instead of buying tickets individually. Also, it sometimes lets you skip lines, which would definitely be worth it in the summer (in the winter the lines aren't bad in most places). 
  • Pay attention to the prices at the gelato shops so you don't accidentally order a 6.50 € ice cream. Ouch, my wallet.
  • It's an easy city to walk around but take a map because it can also be easy to get lost because there are lots of windy side streets. The map I got from the tourist office when I bought my Firenze Card was great. 
  • I would recommend the Rick Steves AudioEurope tours. You can download the app for iPhone or Android (which contains all of the information in one spot, for all of Europe organized by country and city; I have the android one) or individual tours to your MP3 player. He has great walking tours of several museums and around the cities. I've used them in Rome as well, and they are great.
And that's about it!

Stay tuned because I'll be writing about my trip to Rome soon! See you then. :)

Kaylin xx 



















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