La Fine di Firenze

It has been a joy to look back through photos from our last day in Florence–and boy, did we do it up right.

On the earlier side of the morning, with the help of some cappuccinos, we hup-two’d over to the Galleria dell’Accademia to behold the famous statue of David, crafted by Michaelangelo.

 

 

I know.

Whether I overheard this from one of the many nearby tour guides, or gleaned it from our trusty old friend Rick Steves, I can’t remember…but I believe Michaelangelo carved this out of an unwanted, undesirable block of marble. Nobody wanted to touch it, but this 26-year-old was up for the challenge.

Of course, it fascinated my little mind to think about all the ways Michaelangelo and his work intertwine with the story of David. Young. Outcast. Overlooked. Courageous. Facing giants, literal and figurative. Victorious. Timeless.

It’s all so satisfyingly fitting.

 

After caffeinating and eating, we took on a giant of our own–the Palazzo Pitti.

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And that’s just the outside.

Mesmerized, I couldn’t help but transport myself to another time and imagine what it would be like to roam these halls as a tenant, rather than a tourist.

 

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I kid you not, with each room we entered, my jaw dropped open a little more.

Each room, seemingly more ornate than the last, lavishly decorated from floor to ceiling.

 

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Literally.

 

 

Word of advice: if you ever venture to Italy, be sure to find some good exercises to strengthen your neck muscles. You’ll spend a good amount of time looking up.

And what good would a palace be if its opulence wasn’t rivaled by beautiful views of the surrounding city.

 

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To say nothing of the sculptures and statues.

 

 

And what palace would be complete without a courtyard and gardens:

 

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These photos really can’t do this place justice, nor do they even begin to scratch the surface–I took so many more. But if a picture is worth a thousand words, I think I’ve gone on long enough.

After a little siesta (wait, what country are we in?), our sore and tired feet carried us to a place close by for dinner. Some reprieve awaited them the next day with a train ride to our next destination–Venice!

Farewell, Firenze. Until next time.

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PHOTO CREDIT: My dad. Too pretty to keep to myself.

A Museo and A Duomo

If you ever need to know how to get on my good side brighten my day, throw me in an art museum and take away the key.

Well, maybe let me out eventually.

In all seriousness, what I lack in artistic capabilities I make up for in the ability to appreciate someone else’s. Considering Italy is in no short supply of such talents, I was happy to offer up my services.

I love the beauty of a piece of artwork in and of itself, but also what’s behind it. A portrait, a landscape, a figment of imagination–I take it for what it is, but then muse on the who and what and why behind it.

If you know of any good over-thinker support groups, feel free to pass them along.

 

The first museum halls I had the pleasure of roaming were that of the Uffizi Gallery.

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The inside of the outside. [Please excuse the crane.]
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As you turn the corner from the entrance, you stare down a long hallway lined with busts, sculptures, and portraits, and topped with intricate paintings.

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So much to marvel already, but so much left to explore.

Duck into any opening from the main hallway and you’ll lose yourself in a maze of Renaissance artwork…

 

…and sculptures…

 

…no issues spending an entire morning here.

 

After having our fill and fueling up with paninos [more to come on those!], we paid a visit to Il Duomo di Firenze, a cathedral known for its revolutionary dome that stands above the labyrinth that is Florence.

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And that’s just the outside.

 

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Looking back.

So much to observe, appreciate, soak in, and ponder. I’m once again lost in thought, contemplating the tenacity it takes to work day in and day out on a place that I wouldn’t see through to fruition in my lifetime.

The patience it takes to piece together a masterful fresco inch by inch, stroke by stroke.

The focus and determination it takes to meticulously chisel out each fold, each expression, each hair on each sculpture.

It all leads me to think that while there’s an art of this time that is lost nowadays, there’s another lost art of patience, endurance, and acceptance of not seeing the fruits of that labor (and working hard regardless) that, I would argue, is sadly fading away in a world that’s demanding instantaneous gratification, results, and rewards more and more.

So much to take in leads to much food for thought, and a hunger for more.

 

Speaking of food, don’t worry–we kept our minds and ourselves well fed, but more to come on the actual food later.

Till then, I’ll just leave this picture of the Arno River at night right here.

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First Impressions

You only get one chance to make a first impression, right? Well, Florence is a pretty great place to represent, if that adage also applies to entire countries.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect of this city, especially when one of the first things I saw out of the airplane window when we landed was a giant IKEA.

After we packed into a little taxi and embarked further into the city, though, I quickly came to realize everything in Florence seems small, compact, cramped, and confined.

 

Tiny cars navigating their way around pedestrians through narrow, winding, cobbled streets.

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Buildings stacked like blocks on top of each other–all different shapes, sizes, and colors, each one seemingly unique.

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You think about how a city with so much depth, so much history, so much character, has had to adapt over time…I’d say Florence has aged gracefully and acclimated pretty well, all things considered.

But who’s asking.

 

After settling in, our first venture out led us to the historic Ponte Vecchio bridge nearby.

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Ponte Vecchio bridge, from the outside

From inside, as you’re coming upon the bridge, squeezing through crowds of people bustling by, you see both sides of the street lined with shops vying for your attention, as glistening jewelry and shiny trinkets catch your eye with each passing window.

The bridge itself is a pause in the seemingly endless string of shops, drawing your gaze out over Arno River.

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Looking out from one side…

 

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…and the other

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A corridor at the end of the bridge.

 

We moseyed around there until it was time to head back to our hotel for dinner. On the roof.

Yes. The roof.

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If you ever have the opportunity to dine on a rooftop, ever, anywhere, at any point in your life, I highly recommend it. (Except maybe on your own roof, because that could be dangerous. Unless it’s designed for that kind of thing. I digress.)

Enriching. Humbling. Breathtaking. It certainly set the bar high for the rest of the trip.

But beyond the beautiful views were beautiful people. Rafael and Esmerelda will welcome you to their tables like you’re family. He will serve you his finest year of water. She will share with you a recipe for homemade gnocchi, just to prove how easy it is to make, as well as her leaf collection she just gathered from the trellis by the stairs.

Speaking of gnocchi:

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This was hands down one of the best meals I had. Fluffy, creamy, pillowy puff balls of potato pasta topped with a butter sauce and shaved truffles.

I confess, I’m glad there was bread to sop it up, or I might have had to lick the plate clean.

Such a delightful introduction. Nice to meet you, Florence. I couldn’t wait to get to know you more.

Veni, Vidi, Vici

If you know me for any short amount of time, you’ll come to find that I done been bit by the Wanderlust bug, and there ain’t nothin’ I can do about it. Whether I go looking for adventure, or adventure finds me, I enjoy exploring new places, submerging myself in other cultures, and discovering the vast intricacies of this world I wouldn’t have known otherwise.

I recently returned from spending ten days of my life in three of the most enchanting cities I’ve encountered, all found in the charming nation of Italy. And, while there, I decided the best attempt to process and share this trip, and do this place and these experiences an iota of justice, was through the good ol’ blogosphere. Thus, a post-trip blog is born.

To give you a 30,000 foot overview…

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Started in Firenze [Florence]:

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Then ventured up to Venezia [Venice]:

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Then down to Roma [Rome]:

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So much happened in between, and I would love to share it all, if you’ll allow me. Whether you’ve attempted to ask me about the trip, and spoken words have escaped me, or you just want to lean in and see up close from afar, I’d love for you to come on this journey with me.

Italy is rich with people, history, food, & features–it has so much to offer, and I’ve barely broken through the surface. Become a student alongside me of another place, another people, another culture, another time. Come see the world through other eyes, other ears, sights, smells, and sounds.

Veni, Vidi, Vici – I came. I saw. I observed. I absorbed. I learned. I pondered. Didn’t even begin to conquer.