Sunday, September 14, 2008

our first real assault on italy: florence

florence was our next stop. cade and i decided that the majority of our trip would be definitely a budget tour of europe; however, before leaving we decided that one splurge would be sufficient as a sort of treat for us. we got a special offer for a four star hotel in florence that was really new age and we thought- why not... so we booked at UNA vittoria, a little hotel in the heart of florence. we loved it! it was full of mosaic tiling and our room was strangely lit with all these blue lights. there was a special pillow service where they would bring you any pillow of your choice from a list of like ten different materials and stuffings. we loved that- especially after wondering how many other thousands of backpackers had drooled on my latest hostel pillow. anyway- we loved the hotel. great breakfast, great location, great splurge. here is a picture of our room. i guess it kinda looks like a techno dance club with a bed.

after settling in our hotel we went out for some gelato and called it a night. we set off to conquer the sights early the next morning- but apparently we weren't early enough. the first place i wanted to see was the uffizi museum, which is hailed as one of the top art museums in the world. when we got there we realized our 'let's go europe on a budget' book forgot to mention the incredible wait you must suffer through unless you reserve your place in line at least a couple of days in advance. not knowing this vital information, we waited in a small line that never seemed to move for close to three hours. cade and i made the best of it by switching off line holders and exploring around the outside of the museum. unfortunately that left cade looking ever so handsome with my purse in tow.

cade and i also entertained ourselves by listening to harry potter on our ipod. this was a great way to pass line and train time throughout the trip and we really were engrossed in the book- so much so that cade started speaking in an english accent everywhere we went despite my protests and would repeatedly use the word 'wizengamot' because the word would get in his head. this led to more than one awkward moment as the only other people around us who spoke english were from britain, he would accidentally slip into potter pronunciation and give directions or bus info in a phony english accent to the english. usually i would have to pinch him to make him realize what he was doing and then he would come back to reality. a little awkward...

the uffizi was amazing once we finally cleared the line. one of the most famous paintings in the uffizi which has grown to be one of my favorites is botticelli's the birth of venus. it was huge! this painting also brings me to a new topic: nudity. i was always told the nudity was pretty rampant in europe and all the stories added up. it wasn't offensive but it is always an interesting moment when large groups of people gather around a sculpture of a naked man wrestling a bear or something and everyone examines it... the art was beautiful and it was fun to see such old architecture and way of life.
after the museum we wandered in and out of churches and art showcases always stopping for the occasional gelato. finally we made it to the statue of david- another nude statue that is so amazing. this picture is a replica outside of the uffizi museum and it is the only picture we have because you aren't allowed to take pictures of the statue itself. the good old japanese, however, didn't seem to apply to this rule. peace!

we ended the night at a nice outdoor restaurant where we ate authentic pasta with cream sauce. a nice end to an exhausting day in florence. overall i really did love florence. it is a beautiful city with the river running through and the old feel of everything is so different from anywhere we've been.

these last pictures are of the river and the bridge we loved so much. at night we gathered on the bridge to eat gelato, write a couple postcards and listen to a street band play.
i just asked cade for any final thoughts he had on florence to which he peeked over his tetris game and replied "loved it."