Italy: Florence and Me ~ Day 6 (Part 2)

Un buon 24 ore di Firenze… – 6 hrs. of just Florence & Me

Thursday, April 28th 2011: Florence

I walked back down the street with no particular agenda. I found a small currency exchange place that had the best rates I’d come across and it was directly across from the Ponte Vecchio, so I followed the road up that way. I stopped at the Caffé Pontevecchio for a pistacchio gelato and happily continued walking as I ate 🙂  On the bridge, buildings on the either side of the road were adorned with flags and, of course, there were flower-potted balconies to boot. All along the rails, and particularly around the statue of Benvenuto Cellini, there were hundreds of padlocks with hearts and names of couples. The tradition is to eternally ‘lock’ your love by securing a padlock on the bridge with your names and throwing the keys into the Arno river below. Doing some window shopping, I ended up wandering over to the Piazza del Mercato Nuevo. Much like a flea market of sorts, there were numerous stalls selling mostly leather goods and all kinds of souvenirs, masks, scarves, postcards, calendars, jewellery and other knick-knacks. I made sure to rub the snout of the lucky pig and left a coin for him too to bring good fortune. I figured with all the opportunity there was to bring a little extra good luck in love or fortune or chance to return, it would be a waste to be here and not try them right?

I went over to the Accademia next, for my 1:30 entry time. The hallway leading up to the David had some twelve unfinished statues by Michaelangelo. But David himself, was amazing to see from the hair on his head down to his toes. The detail was so that you couldn’t help but stare in awe – the facial features looked as if they would come alive at any moment, and the ripples of muscle down the torso and in the arms and hands were perfect. People walked around and admired the general beauty of the statue, while some just sat gazing up at it engrossed in pure appreciation and a few others came prepared with art supplies and the inspiration to sketch.

Back out in the streets, I weaved in and out of alleyways that I recognized and some random ones that I didn’t, stopping for a few minutes to listen to a charming street-side violin player. I spent about half an hour looking at the artwork the small, free-of-charge gallery across from the Uffizi and then strolled into the Palazzo Vecchio hoping to go to the museum there, but the costumed greeters on the staircase told me it was closed for the afternoon. So I snapped a few pictures in the open area around the entrance and decided to go over to the Santa Croce since it was on the way back to the hotel. I didn’t realize how much there was to see here and when my camera battery died on me shortly after walking in, I kicked myself for not charging it the night before. As I slowly walked through the church, I used my phone to get pictures of the tombs of Galileo, Michaelangelo, Machiavelli, Dante Alighieri and a few others. I had another hour or so to kill, so I sat in the courtyard to write for a while, and then walked through the Pazzi Chapel and the Gallery of Funeral Moments.

I strolled leisurely back to the hotel to meet the group for the optional dinner. We stopped at the Piazzale Michaelangelo on the way to restaurant for a group photo overlooking Florence at sunset – yet another moment to realize how beautiful it is here.

Another drive up another steep hillside and we were at the Ristorante Montebuoni. We started with a glass of prosecco, then bruschetta with cold cuts, a serving of pasta, a plate of potatoes and pork and we finished with some dessert wine and biscotti. Our waiter, Romolo, (who used to be the owner) and the current owner, Emilio, were the best. Everyone left with a full stomach and free bottle of wine.

We drove back to the other side of town to drop off the party people who were going to Club Space. It had been a long day though, from Duomo to dinner, so I went back to the hotel and called it a night.

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