To begin this posting, I first want to apologizing for being so late on all of my posts! ahhh! I am really going to try to make more time for the blog…who cares about homework, right? Don’t worry, just kidding…haha! (But not about the trying harder to keep the blog updated part.)

Anywho, Florence was great! I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Florence this weekend. I had never heard much about the city before coming to Europe, unlike Venice, Paris, and Rome. I knew about Michelangelo’s David, and the one of a kind leather that was sold in the city, but besides that, Florence was a big question mark in my mind. The night before we left, we all had a lot of homework to get done so we were up late, and there wasn’t much time to contemplate our upcoming trip. Right before I went to bed I told my roommate that I had no idea what to expect this weekend, and she agreed. However, in the midst of uncertainty, we both rivaled in the unknown. We were free to experience Florence the way we wanted to, and make it all our own.

To get to city, we took a fast train from Rome Termini. Rome Termini is similar to New York’s Grand Central Station…except perhaps bigger. But don’t hold me on that, because I’ve only been to the Grand Central Station once in my lifetime, and I go to Rome Termini everyday. This was my first time being on an actual fast train, because I discovered before hand that the fast train I took home from Assisi was only the medium speed fast train. The train we took this weekend was the fastest train, traveling something like 200 kilometers per hour. When you ride the train, there is an unwritten rule among the passengers to be absolutely quiet. This is because the tickets are so expensive, people want to enjoy a relaxing, peaceful train ride. It was so different from the train we are normally on, the one that takes us to and from Rome termini from our town, Castel Gondolfo. Our town train is always packed, noisy, and cramped. When you sit across from someone, your knees will most likely be touching due to the tight seating. However, on the fast train, we had our own space, with cute little tables in front of us, free wifi, and not to mention an amazing view of the Italian country side zooming past us out the window. It was nice. Different for us, but very nice.

When we first arrived in Florence we went straight to our hotel, which was right near the Duomo (which I’ll talk about in a little bit) and other surrounding attractions. The employees were so kind, and our rooms were fantastic, the weekend was filled with unexpected luxuries, it was so odd! I was so grateful, but it almost felt like too much to be first pampered on the train, and then in the hotel…..almost.  

After getting settled we went to the Accademia Gallery, which houses and preserves between 200 to 500 paintings, plaster cast collections by Lorenzo Bartolini and Luigi Pampaloni. And of course, Michelangelo’s “David.” There was even a sweet Bartolini exhibition going on that featured his most famous works. Wow, I was stunned by his sculptures. I still can’t comprehend how a person can transform a brick of stone, or a slab of marble, into a sculpture so life like and real. It was amazing, and I felt honored to be in the presence of such amazing art. The “David,” probably one of the most famous pieces of art in the world, was breathtaking. For some reason, I didn’t think that the David was very large before I saw it in real life. I always pictured it to be averaged size, but boy was I wrong. The David is HUGE!  And so cool! It is the first thing you see when walking into the main gallery of the Accademia. I think I spent close to a half hour (which I could have spent longer) just admiring the sculpture, walking around it, examining it, and really trying to study the art itself. I had previously studied the “David” in school, so I knew why Michelangelo made his feet, arms, and hands a little less proportionate to the rest of his body. The reasoning being that the real life David in the bible, was only a young boy, becoming a man, but he hadn’t yet completely grown into his post puberty body. Michelangelo wanted him to be represented in a realistic way, so he made him look like a young teenage boy, a little gawky. It was so interesting to see the sculpture in person, and to recall what I had learned in school, and then look for those things when I was in the gallery. Seeing the “David” was definitely a highlight of the trip!

We also visited the Uffizi Gallery, which houses more famous paintings and sculptures, from so many different artists, that I can not personally name them (or probably even recall, lol) all of them. It kind of reminded me of the Luvre, because it was so big, with so much to see and admire, that it could not be completely visited all in one day, and we had to try to see it in two and a half hours. My favorite room was that dedicated to Leonardo Da Vinci, however, all of the art work was so diverse and beautiful. I definitely learned a great deal about art, artists, and history during the tour of this gallery.

The rest of the weekend consisted of shopping in the Leather Market (I soon became addicted, which was very strange for me because people know that I am not a big shopper) but I really enjoyed it. I think it was because there were so many options, the items were unique, and you could barter (although I only succeeded a few times) with the people selling the goods. I think I went to the leather market every single day of the weekend, at least once. It was just too fun. I also went to what people call the “west side market” of Florence, because it reminds them of the West Side Market in Cleveland. It was so cool to go in! The people were so nice, the prices were cheap, and the food was amazing!!! I swear I just ate all weekend, non stop.

Speaking of food, I had the biggest and best meal of my life while in Florence at a restaurant owned by one of our program directors good friends. It consisted of four courses (breads, pastas and rice, meats, and dessert) plus three bottles of complimentary wine. I eagerly forced myself to eat every course, fell asleep that night in a food comatose, and when I woke up the next morning, I still felt full. But it was SO GOOD!!! The next time I am in Florence, I will definitely be going thereJ

On Sunday morning we went to Mass at the Duomo, which is the biggest church in Florence, that has a dome shaped roof (hence “Duomo”) and is the center of the city. If you are ever lost in Florence, look for the Duomo, and you can find your way back. The real name of the Duomo is the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. In English this means, the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower. Everyone calls the Basilica the Duomo though because of its dome shaped roof. We had amazing seats in Mass, we were approximately 10 to 15 feet away from the altar. I am growing to enjoy Mass in Italian more and more. Although at times I get frustrated because I cannot understand the homily, and much of what else is being said, just being in Mass that is said in such a beautiful language, inside a beautiful Basilica, celebrating the beautiful Eucharist, is an experience of a life time everytime. I hope to never take it for granted.

We got back to Campus around 7:15pm on Sunday night, had a nice family dinner, and then ended the weekend exhausted in our beds. It was such an enjoyable time, and I fell in love with Florence. When I see you all in person in approximately one month, I will have even more amazing things to say about it. I miss you all and hope you are well! All of my love!

Ciao Bella! 

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