24 March 2011

Penis Galore! - Florence [Italy]

A quick explanation of the title for this post; no, I have not switched teams. Florence just seems to be the world capital of statues hanging out with their wang out... Just sayin'

I arrived into Florence at about 2 in the afternoon and had a quick wander around, but my backpack was way too heavy to lug around. I decided to go to meet my host. A lie down, maybe an afternoon nap, a bit of food - it was sounding like a great idea. My host, Leonardo, is a cool guy that lives by himself in the east of the city. He was really giving and was a great host. So I met him at the bus station, and I will be honest - he looked a little... ummm... rugged. He threw my backpack in the back of his car and told me to jump back on the train and go sightseeing for the afternoon. It did make sense; it was a beautiful afternoon! But I was a little reluctant. Firstly I was HANGING! But other than that I was a little worried... I had checked out Leonardo on couch surfing and he had some great references, but to me he is a complete stranger. That bag contained my life! They say at some point you have to trust someone... So I got on the train.

Florence is cool, FACT. I didn't have a tourist map, I just wandered around the beautiful streets, going wherever my feet took me. It turns out I hit most of the tourist spots just by mistake. First I stumbled across the Ponte Vecchio, a bridge in the centre of town. But it is not a normal bridge - it is crammed with shops. And it looks as though they ran out of room at some point, so they decided to just build out over the river. The supports for the areas that stick out look wholly inadequate - like someone has just chucked a couple of 4 by 2's under their house and said "she'll be right".

Next up - the MASSIVE Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in the centre of the city - one of the largest cathedrals I have ever seen. It is built in while and green marble, with an extremely impressive faƧade. Surrounding it are the Baptistery and the Bell Tower, both decorated in the same style. These buildings are seriously mamouth! All the while being extremely intricate and detailed.

I also found the Piazza della Signoria, which contains several impressive sculptures. Actually, impressive is not strong enough, I was blown away. The detail is incredible, I cannot imagine how someone could create something so... I'm lost for words. The Plizza also contains one of two replicas of Michelangelo's David.

One cool thing about Florence that you don't see everywhere else in Europe is the artists on the street. There are these people who set up their little easel and paint the most amazing pieces. There are also artists that draw on the street using chalk. I have seen this in other cities, but nothing compares to the skill of those in Florence. It is unbelievable they can create something with just chalk right there on the pavement. And they come back every day and make a new one!

It had been a huge afternoon, and was starting to cool down. I still had time to burn, but was really tired, and just wanted to go somewhere warm where people wouldn't bother me. So I went to the one place that I avoid at all costs when travelling. McDonalds. DON'T JUDGE!

I made my way back to Leonardo's house, where I met up with four other Couch Surfers that were also staying the night - Mike, and American guy currently living in China. His girlfriend Bonnie, a Chinese girl living in Munich... Yes, that is crazy! Viet, a Vietnamese guy... living in Vietnam. And finally Fion, a girl from Hong Kong.

Leonardo prepared a meal for us all - starting with a rice dish... I am not exactly sure what that was called. But he followed it up with a traditional Florenine broth called Lampredotto. The meat in it looked a little strange... turns out it is made from the fourth stomach of a cow. Thanks wikipedia! I tried it, but lets just say it wasn't exactly to my taste.

The following day Bonnie, Mike and I went exploring! All the museums were closed, so we just spent the whole day wandering around. I had already seen most of the tourist hot-spots, but the other two hadn't, and I didn't mind checking them out again. In the morning we visited the inside of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. A huge, cavournous (is that a word?!) space with massive pilars holding up the roof, which seemed to be hundreds of meters high. The dome is the most spectacular part, but my budget would not allow a trip up.

It actually got really cold that day - there was this icy wind that cut right through you. So our day was broken up by several trips into small cafe's to thaw. We searched high and low for a place doing an aperitivo but couldn't find anything, so we spent the last few hours in an Irish pub before calling it a day.

Tuesday meant the museums were open! The two most popular are the Uffizi - full of renaissance art and the Academia - home to the original David. First we made our way to the Uffizi, and were greeted by a huge queue. Mike and Bonnie couldn't be bothered to wait, so they went off to explore for the day. Viet and I decided to wait... and wait we did. For two hours! Inside hung paintings from all the big guns - Michelangello, da Vinci, Donatello... Was it worth the wait and €11 entry fee? Probably. Some of the paintings were really amazing. But I was a little disappointed by the lack of information for the paintings - some was only in Italian, and the English parts often only gave the date it was painted, and the date it was aquired by the museum.

That afternoon we made a treck up the hill to the Piazzale Michelangelo to visit the second Devid replica. It was worth the uphil battle - the views over the city were specacular. We also visited a small church on top of the hill, which was also really beautiful.

Here ends my whirlwind tour of Florence. My impression - it is a really beautiful city. There are few major tourist attractions, but you can just wander around the city for hours and not get bored. If you are an art or history lover - there are literally hundreds of galleries and museums! So you definately wont run out of things to do.

I am currently on a train to Siena. Unfortunately there is no couch waiting for me, and apparently the one hostel in the city is a mission to get to. I have not made a booking, so I just have my fingers crossed. Maybe that is unwise, as I am sure the universe is working against me today! This morning I had to run for my train from Leonardos house, only just making it (long story as to why...). I had 25 minutes to get to the main station, then get my ass on the train to Siena. So the train to the city just decides to stop. For like 10 minutes. AHHH! I finally got to the main station and we arrived at platform 17 - which is kind of a half platform that is a good 300m from the main station! When I finally got there I found that my train to Siena left from platform 1 - at the exact opposite end of the station. But I said screw you, universe - I am going to make it. And that is exactly what I did, with about 30 seconds to spare. WIN!

1 comment:

  1. You know.. my opinion is that you shouldn't flaunt something that isn't... amazing. One of a kind. Those penis statues have nothing to be bragging about. I have vibrators bigger than that.


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