I stayed at Emerald Hostel, clean and ikea-y and located off mercant san lorenzo, which is a popular market in the city where they sell leather goods, clothes, shoes and other touristy doo-dads. Its kind of annoying to walk down this street, hearing "ciao bella" every 2 seconds from dudes trying to make a sale. The woman at the hostel didnt speak english bit we somehow communicated that afternoon. I put down my bags and went to find some lunch. There was a small cafe near my place where i had delicious lasagne and some treats (the guy at the shop gave me some extra), then i took a walk around, partly to situate myself and partly to allow the woman to clean my room.
Once i arrived back i got some of my belongings sorted out and plotted things i wanted to see on my map. I was feeling kinda lonely all my myself so i decided to drink a large Heineken I had brought from Venice, then go out to explore. Before i was finished, i had two new roommates: Stephan and Stephan, an australian and a swede, just off an erasmus school exchange program in milan. We got aquainted and i joined them for a very large dinner -- we shared a giant steak florentine, salad, potatoes and tomato with mozzerella, wine, after dinner coffee, then gelato. Looking back i dont know how we got it all down! After dinner we walked the streets, coming upon a highschool orchestra from NYC playing in a cathedral. The last some they played was Stand By Me which was quite nice indeed!
The next day we woke up with more of a plan. We hit up the Duomo, which is incredibly large. To be honest, i was more impressed with the exterior rather than the interior! It has a light facade and is decorated like a giant white gingerbread house. Next up one Stephan and i hit up the Galleria dell-Accademia to see Michaelangelo’s David. Who knew that sculpture was so freaking big... 17 feet tall to be exact! I really just kept thinking of that recent-ish sketch on SNL about David's, ahem 'size? Didnt have the same effect on Steph. It was pretty sweet. After we met up with the other Steph and grabbed a slice, then headed to the michaelangelo piazza, which has an amazing view of the city of florence. Ita quite a hike up, but it was worth it. The weather was great, too. Swedish Steph had to leave after this to get back to milan, so we walked him to the train station to say farewell. Aussie Steph and i went wandering again and i spotted a photography museum-- the Museo Nazionale Alinari della Fotografia, with an exhibit of work by Robert Capa in Italia:
On the 70th anniversary of the landing of the Allies in Italy, this exhibition presents a selection of images taken by the Hungarian photographer Robert Capa for LIFE magazine, between July 1943 and January 1944. Capa followed the Allied troops on their advance from Palermo to Monte Cassino, photographing significant events along the way such as the surrender of Palermo and the Four Days of Naples uprising against the German forces. (www.museodiroma.it.)
It was great. I fuckin love photography exhibits.
After that, dinner and some pubs.
The next day i set off on my own to find some vintage shops i had found online. To be honest, i only found a few, and the others didnt seem to exist. The ones found were cool, but were way too pricey for me. I hit up the Uffizzi Gallery which was very impressive...a huge collection. I was feeling quite homesick that day, or perhaps homesick for the UK, because i came across a pub suddenly and spent my last 3 euroa cash for a pint. I sat with a finniah couple who were v interested in the olympic hockey game, we had a nice chat. That night Steph and i hit the town and met up with some peolle from a walkihg tour he'd done earlier. One dude we were with had actually been on a tour in ireland with a guy from my scotland highland tour... I asked his name and when he said 'Troy', i flipped! I always ask for names now, because this world is so damn small. Twas a lazy hazy night.
I never ended up going to Pisa to see the leaning tower, but Steph and I took a day trip to Modena on our last day. It was a really pretty smallish town! We actually found a coulle vintage shops but they were closed, and Steph and i had some good chats. He was an interesting fellow. Those Aussies! We found a terrific restaurant with an all you can eat buffet, which we did. So many foods, so many desserts! Yum.
Florence was really fun--its a beautiful, walkable city. I met some interesting people and was able to relax a bit in my hostel. This trip has been a long one for me! Ive never been away from home for more than a month, so i have bouts of homesickness from time to time. I think a lot of people go on trips like these in order separate from normal life, have new experiences, meet different people, have fun, and explore (themselves), etc...the same goes for me. But Im finding that it isnt always easy for me to relax and think introspectively because im thinking of so many other things relating to my trip, like booking things and my next moves. It always used to be so easy for me to think about myself!! (Hah.) i was hoping for time and concentration in order to dig a little deeper, i suppose. This trip is definitely not what i expected...but perhaps thats the point. Maybe i wont realize the point until i return home.
Next up, Rome!
xx love you