Sunday, July 18, 2010

17 July 2010 Florence

We got up early this morning about 6am and had breakfast (cereal and caffe). Did some washing and dishwashing and cleaned up the apartment a bit.
By 930 we were ready to go out the door and discover Firenze. We walked up the street to find the pond outside the Fortezza della Basso, through the park, across the road, past the Santa Maria Novella train station (the main one) and after 20 minutes found ourselves in front of the Duomo.
We looked around the piazza and saw so many tourists lined up to go in the front entrance of the Duomo chiesa (church) that we decided to come back another day. Instead we walked around the crowd and found another entrance to the dome climb. It was €8 each to enter, but the ticket man let the boys go under the gate for free, so €16 for a family of 4 is not too bad. We walked through to the first set of stairs that were quite wide and easy to climb, but after 5 minutes it started to hurt (if you know me, you know that I am allergic to exercise, so I am far from fit). So we climbed for about 15 minutes to the first balcony inside the dome. Very nice and a great place to rest a little, we tried to take photos here but there was a Perspex wall around and the reflection does not help with the camera. But you will see the photos and they turned out alright.
Up some more stairs 2 or 3 minutes to the next balcony, the paintings in here are amazing, and the kids were fascinated by the paintings of God and the devil and angels. I was more amazed at the painter who did the paintings either by hanging from the centre dome or by standing on the most amazing scaffold you can think of. Imagine poles tied together about 60metres high (I think). SCARY!!
Then came the climb in the dome area with sloping walls and tight corners. Lots of spiral staircases. And with people making the descent while you are making the ascent it is a tight squeeze in some areas. (Oh yeah! There are signs everywhere saying Please Do Not Write On The Walls, well these signs don’t stop people leaving there marks everywhere at all).
So on with the climbing, I am in a world of pain now huffing and puffing, my heart rate through the roof, but I must keep going to the cupola. There are stairs that are literally like climbing a ladder (did I not mention that I was wearing a knee length dress?) Oh well if the person behind saw anything I am sorry, just don’t tell me and I’ll be none the wiser ;-).
So after 15 minutes of climbing (felt like an hour, can you hear Iain laughing in the background?) we reached our destination, the cupola at the top of the dome. What a view and definitely worth the climb, we spent about 30 minutes up there looking around and taking many photos, we could even see our apartment from it (how amazing is that?).
The climb down was worse than the climb up, I had to walk slowly so I didn’t jar my knees, but we reached the bottom and I was glad we did it. It only took about 5 minutes for my legs to stop shaking, the kids kept saying ‘look at my legs mum they are shaking.’
We headed off down another street (decided it would be safe to follow the tour groups J)
And found ourselves infront of the Palazzo di Vecchio there were some statues in front David (not sure if it is the real one or not) and some others (sorry I will get some more info on them, one problem doing the tour on your own).
We went into the building and saw some very old paintings of Florence on the walls we have pics of these too. The columns are amazing.
We saw a wedding and left the building to head down some other street to the Arno River (lungarno). Listening to the church bells now as I am typing this.
Back to the river, it was about 12 and it was getting hot. We took some great photos of Ponte(bridge) Vecchio It has jewellery shops and houses on it, looks amazing and the houses look like they are hanging on for dear life. We have some photos of frog shaped rings and ladybird rings.
We decided to head back to the apartment at lunchtime to avoid the heat. We thought we would stop into Macdonalds for lunch and use the bathroom. We used the bathroom and left with some cold drinks, not burgers (tooooo expensive) The local restaurants are cheaper.
So we went back to our apartment and enjoyed some salami, cheese and salad sandwiches (with normal white bread, they call it glue here).
More adventures to come….

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