Another 6am-er to put us at breakfast at 7:00am, and then on our bus to Florence by 7:45am. How is it that I am getting up much earlier on vacation than I do during the academic year for work? As our tour guide told us from the moment she met us, "this isn't vacation, this is a tour". Man, do I love Aida. She's been terrific so far.
Anyway, the first thing we noticed en route to Florence is that, well, "Florence" is really Firenze. For some reason, us Americans and others around the world feel the need to translate everything. Names aren't translatable, so why do we do it? Either way, now that I know, Firenze it is.
The city was nice, but crowded. Being that of a Saturday, downtown Firenze was insanely packed with tourists. We made our way to a few historical sites which, to be honest, did not really impress me. There is only so much talk, chatter, and info you can retain regarding Michelangelo, Galileo, and others. I'm not trying to be ignorant, but these guys did so many remarkable things around this country, how can you keep up with it all?
One of the cooler things we did see was the Statue of David by Michelangelo (who else, right?). I'm not much for art, but this was very, very, very impressive. Especially, when you take into consideration the process to simply sculpt and chisel a statue - any statue - it's simply unbelievable. The size of it, the detail of it, the proportions of it, and the overwhelming brilliance of it. Unfortunately, no pictures are allowed in the Florence Accademia of Galleria, so I couldn't share with you all. Either way, pictures still wouldn't have done it justice.
After touring the historical sites, we were free to roam Firenze for several hours. Rather than hit up touristy spots, again, the tag team partner and I branched out and attempted to immerse ourselves in the culture. Instead of eating lunch at a local restaurant that was highly recommended by our tour guide for offering one of the best Lasagna's in all of Italy, we went a different route.
We actually headed down a small street in Firenze among the true locals to a shop which my wife, the avid, trusty, and by now, well renown Yelper, researched last night. The place is highly regarded among the locals, and we quickly grasped that point as the line was easily a half an hour wait, and even longer as the day carried along. The trick? We had to order in Italian. No English there.
We enjoyed the thrill and the challenge, and finally got to the counter and delivered. My wife handled it smoothly, and I butchered the Italian language half-way to death, but the man behind the counter seemed to have appreciated my efforts as he nodded, smiled, said "no-no-perfect" as I stood there in shame of my handle on the languages. The Italians really do appreciate when you try to learn the culture. Who can blame them?
So far, this has been one of the coolest moments here in Italy for myself. We bought a bottle of wine (because, that's all you drink here!), sat on the curb with our two sandwiches among all of the locals doing the same, and enjoyed a true Italian lunch. The sandwiches were awesome. Only fresh bread and meat. I can never do Subway again. Ever. And yes, a bottle of wine for lunch makes your afternoon so much happier! I'll let you figure that out.
Here are today's random phone pictures. Click to enlarge them for better view.
We walked a lot, talked a lot, took in all that is Firenze, and are now back in our super small room here. However, we're all packed up and ready to go. It's currently 1:00am here (7:00pm back in NYC), and another 6:00am morning beckons. We're off to Venice, but with a brief stop in Pisa to fix that damn leaning tower.