This past weekend, my program took us on an excursion to see the beauty of Florence, Italy. Florence is located in the region Tuscanny and is a gorgeous city of approximately 500,000 people; many of which are American students. It was the home of many famous Renaissance artists including Da Vinci and Michelangelo (for awhile at least), Donatello, Raphael (all the TMNT), and Machiavelli.
As soon as we arrived, we went on a walking tour of the city. The following information is based upon what I remember from the tour and may or may not be completely accurate. I confess I certainly looked like a tourist in this town, with my headset, camera in hand, and a gawking expression on my face the whole time. We started our tour in the piazza where the original statue of David was put on display in the 1500's. Now, there is only a copy of the statue and the original has been placed in a museum in order to protect and preserve it. Also in this square, were other numerous sculptures of incredible beauty.
On our way towards the Ponte Vecchio, we passed many other sculptures of the famous Renaissance painters who contributed to the art of Florence. One sculpture came to life as we passed by revealing the mime inside. Once we reached the Ponte Vecchio, I realized why Becca had raved about it for so long. This gorgeous and famous bridge in Florence was quite a sight. Its incredibly large and has many shops along it. The bridge was built for protection against assassination for one of the Medici sons. The river that it crosses is also gorgeous!
Further into our tour, we saw a small church that housed sick people during the Black Plague. Above the door is a plaque/painting of Dante, the man who wrote the Divine Comedy and fathered the Italian language. We also saw a bronze door to a church. It took 27 years for the door to be made. It shows various scenes from the Bible.
After our tour, we stopped by the museum in which the statue of David was held. A friend of mine snuck an illegal photo of the actual statue. To be honest, this huge (17 feet tall) statue may very well make my top 10 list of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Michelangelo was only 26 years old when he began this incredible work of art. He finished it at the age of 29 after working on it for three years and not allowing anyone to see it until its completion. The huge chunk of marble that it is made from is one entire piece. Two other sculptors attempted to create Biblical David from it, but quit saying that the marble was not good enough quality and that they would not be able to create a masterpiece from the rock. So Michelangelo was hired as a rookie to wield his own version of David. He created a much different version than anyone else had ever created. His David was older, about 18 or so, rather than the typical 14 or 15. Also, David is usually pictured chopping off the head of Goliath, but Michelangelo chose to sculpt David before the fight holding the sling and the stone. My first thought upon seeing this statue was "uhm......i kno michelangelo is great and all, but his hand looks a little to big for the rest of his body." There are two possible reasons for this 1) he wanted the hand and the stone to stand out or 2) the statue was meant to be gazed up at, therefore making the hand appear to be the correct size.
Our program always does a really good job of giving us free time in the city, so our first night there, they planned an aperitivo for us, and then gave us the evening free. Since we are cheap, we ate lots of food at the bar and then just wandered around Florence for the evening. We window shopped and marveled at all the great shoes! We took a ride on a carousel and went to the Ponte Vecchio at night and chatted.
The next day in Florence, we finished up our tour of the city with the Piazza de Michelangelo. From there, you can get an overlook of the entirety of Florence. The rest of the day we spent shopping at some of the stores, but mainly at the market. My roommates and I bought the same leather jacket at one store.....its quite marvelous to say the least. Then that evening, we stayed in Florence in a hostel. Our program only planned the Florence trip, and we decided that since Pisa was so close, we would stay an extra day and take a trip there. Our hostel was really nice, pretty much like a hotel. Not all hostels are this nice however. :o)
The next morning, we took a train to Pisa. Upon entering the train station, I had a sudden mental image of Harry Potter. There was a board on the wall, and the letters would flip really fast to reveal the next train and its destination. Then once we got on the train, the seats faced each other. I wished we could have closed our own private door to preven Malfoy from entering.
Once we got to Pisa, we checked a few of our bags at the station. The tower is a 30-45 minute hike from the station and we didnt want to carry all of our Florentine purchases. Along the way to the tower, we took some incredible scenic pictures of Pisa. It was such a nice day out, and the clouds looked so pretty and fluffy and fake! Once we got to the tower, we took many many corny pictures of the tower. I didnt expect it to be so incredibly beautiful! It too would make my top 10 list!!! It must have been the sky as well; the sky made everything so much more beautiful.
For lunch, we decided to have a picnic, so we bought a bunch of random food and ate together in a quiet piazza away from all the tourist. We laughed at the Americans we saw wearing tennies and fanny-packs! While we were eating lunch and enjoying some Coke, a pigeon pooped on Melissa's head. She resisted the urge to wipe it off, and instead let it dry! We then walked to a nearby bar and gelaterria, and sat there for an hour or so people watching. We saw this one older Italian guy dressed in white leather shoes and coat, and black jeans. He looked like he was trying to impersonate Elvis or something. Anyway, he drove up, parked his car, and ordered some drink. Then about 10 minutes or so later, his Ferrari starts to roll towards a crowd of people!!! I have never seen someone get out of a chair so fast! He recruited a kid to hold his car as he climbed in and reparked it, revving the engine to draw even more attention to himself!!!
Then we hopped back onto the train, and headed home.......home to Tuscania!