Carb-loading through the boot of Europe
04.23.2015 - 04.26.2015 69 °F
Buonasera, from Florence!
I have spent four days in this beautiful city and while it is hard to compete with the charm of Venice, Florence has a wonderful charm all its own.
Obligatory selfie with the Ponte Vecchio bridge.
Sunset from the Ponte Vecchio bridge overlooking the Arno river.
The bridge itself is a Medieval stone closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge over the Arno River noted for still having shops built along it which was once common. (Thanks wikipedia!)
In the center of town is the Florence Cathedral in the Piazza del Duomo. Built in 1296, the exterior is all marble.
This thing is huge!
If you haven't had too much to drink the night before, you can walk the 463 steps to the top of the dome for an amazing view of the city.
Sweaty me after climbing to the top.
The highlight of this city for me by far has got to be seeing Michelangelo's David. Growing up, the human body was my favorite subject to draw, paint and sculpt. I began by drawing comic book characters as a kid. I remember that I would take them to my dad to show him and he would then use that opportunity to teach me about human anatomy. Comic book characters were, after all, full of muscle and while often exaggerated, the way they were drawn was typically rooted in an anatomically correct base. They really made the perfect teaching tool for my dad to show me how muscle groups worked together and how and where they attached to the bones. I don't think I realized at the time how instrumental those moments with him were in shaping my interests and abilities, culminating in a Master's thesis in digital sculpting.
With that in mind, it is no wonder that the moment I turned the corner and saw the statue of David for the first time, I got chills. It is perfect. There is no other way to say it. Every line, every muscle, the form, the weight. For me personally, it is the most awe inspiring piece of art I have ever seen.
After an obligatory amazement selfie, I just sat and enjoyed it for about an hour. Cheesy, I know, but deal with it.
Another highlight was the day I got outside the city to explore the Tuscan hills with a hostel-mate who had a car. About an hour south of Florence you will find a great Chianti region full of wineries.
It was nice to spend a day exploring the countryside and going to various wineries for tastings.
For my foodie friends, Italy has no shortage of amazing cuisine.
Whether it's pizza with prosciutto.
Or pesto gnocchi with various cheeses and jams.
Or a fresh pastry.
Or a warm prosciutto and mozzarella sandwich, you better do a lot of site seeing to walk off all the carbs.
The Uffizi art gallery down by the water is supposed to be among the oldest and most famous art museums of Europe and the world. Now, I am not sure if I was just hangry from waiting in line for more then two hours but I wasn't super enthused about what was inside. The majority of the works are Italian artist's paintings of Mary and baby Jesus. Or just Mary. Or just baby Jesus. People looking at baby Jesus. People waning over baby Jesus wile Mary looks sullen. Ugh. Awful. They are like picture of dolphins. They all end up looking the same.
I mean, look at this. Mary doesn't even look human. And baby Jesus's head is way too small. In fact, if anything, infant's heads are larger proportionally than they eventually become as adults.
Mary is a bit better here but baby Jesus looks like a girl who needed to be put back in the over a bit longer. Works like this were in almost every room of one entire floor. #readmyface
Here is a fun one of Mary looking like E.T.. Jesus clearly needs a nap and good arm day at the gym and by the end, I felt like whoever that is on the right.
My advice, enjoy the statues and sculptures and make your way quickly to the second floor of "international artists." I did see some nice Rembrandt - one of my favorite painters.
Oh, I also found a 15th century Noah Wyle. So that's fun.
Ok, end rant about the Uffizi gallery.
Lastly, while traveling here, I usually I try to avoid other Americans like the plague. They tend to be tourists and not travelers. Not all, but a lot of them. Plus, I didn't really come to Europe to just spend time with more Americans. Up to this point, I hadn't really run into too many anyway. In any case, there happened to be four Americans in my room who were also traveling solo. We all bonded quickly and I made my last day or two in Florence really enjoyable.
On the last night, we, along with a very cool German, walked up to an overlook of the city, enjoyed some wine and live music.
Florence was a great stop along the way and I hope to return one way for another visit.
But for now, south to Rome!
Thanks for reading!