Firenze, Florence, Fiori

So this post is coming far too late, because despite my personal deadlines…when nothing’s at stake, or at least not really, I still have trouble wanting to sit down and skim through millions of photos. But alas, you’ll get two posts this week, because Florence and Barcelona deserve there own ramblings.

So Florence: I’ve heard from many little birds that Florence is the best city in all of Italy. Rome is overdone. Venice is a tourist attraction. Naples has Pompeii and pizza. Florence has everything.

I was a bit shocked by the size of the city though. I could walk the length in just a few hours, but perhaps that was part of it’s beauty. I saw maybe one bus in a three days span and almost no cars. People stuck to their feet and bikes to roam the city in an environmentally conscious manor.

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(this side of the Duomo is covered in pollution, so they made laws against riding cars and motorcycles.)

This trip, unlike most of my weekend adventures, was with my entire program (ie 18 journalism students and our director, Francesco). It made transportation a bit easier, because it was covered by tuition and therefore quite efficient, and, the city was very easy to navigate due to her size.

On the first day after about 8 shots of espresso we had a Florentine tour-guide show us the ancient castle of the Medici, old statues, a local leather market, and the river running through the city center. Although it was all beautiful, the tour-guide herself, was the best part. Her accent was an odd mix of Australian, Scottish, American, and Italian and when she spoke her mouth and hand motions were aggressively sharp. To the best of my ability here is a sentence from her:

“And theeis. Is wheah. Thay. Uzed teu. Kayp Daiveed.”

Her accent was thick, but since she put a period after every few words, it was slow enough to understand. Her arms did a lot of talking to, constantly pointing at things, so they kept you awake and alert.

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We were left back at our hotel, midday, when the tour was finished. Ironically the place was called Hotel California, which Francesco says wasn’t on purpose, but I don’t buy it. We did some window shopping and sat down for pizza; it wasn’t Da Michelle, Naples level, but still amazing and delicious to the last bite. And there was, of course, gelato for dessert, because I just can’t get enough.

We had traditional Florentine pasta for dinner and then danced the night away, to wake up for another tour with our favorite guide. The second day we actually saw “the David” Michaelangelo’s famous statue of David, with his slingshot and rock, before killing the giant Goliath. It’s incredible to see such a masterpiece and know it was created by a man about my age. I suppose some people really are prodigies.

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Most of Saturday was spent seeing anything we missed. Some climbed the Duomo to get a panorama of the city, others ate paninis from a famous shop nearby. We found a vegetarian cafe and book shop, so hipster, tucked in a back alley where I had soothing green tea and an Ethiopian inspired tofu dish, yum!

But, Florence is famous for leather and gold. It’s literally what every shop sells. So leaving without something would have been tough. While sitting in Massimo Leather with friends, I saw it. The jacket that defines my style and the only one of it’s kind. Naturally I ended up splurging on the copper-brown, suede, white stitched piece of perfection. Since it was unique and the last one they gave me a huge discount and I’ve worn it every day since. Worth it. And now when people back home ask where I got it, I can actually answer “Oh..it’s hand made from Italy.”

NBD. Florence is beautiful and quaint. I’m not sure I could have studied there, too small, but wonderful for a weekend. Also, how did Americans get the name Florence from the Italian name Firenze? Beyond me.

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(thought this guy needed to be included…CRAZY street art!)

Until Barcelona,

Bri, the Barefoot Traveler

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