Under the Tuscan Sun

Arrived in Florence unceremoniously and on time. Traveling by train is not bad. First purchase I made at the train station was a map. Supposedly the convent I was staying at is only a kilometer or so from the train station but the directions, while good, weren’t explicit, and Florence is quite a difference experience from Venice.

Walking outside of the train station I am suddenly thrust into a world of cars and small motorcycles (Vespa like however the prominent brand seems to be Liberty). It is very busy, very crowded, and somewhat intimidating. Fortunately I have my map, otherwise I would become completely lost and frustrated. Eventually I make my way to the convent, down a very narrow street. I present my reservation letter to the nun at the desk, she looks at it, frowns (not a good sign) and then eventually finds my reservation. I get my key, she shows me the way to the elevator, and then asks if I speak French. 25 years ago, maybe, and then quite poorly I’m thinking.

I try to recall any French from my 3 years in Mdm. Malone’s class  but evidently between goofing off with my friends (Chip, Stacey, Hunt, Deshea) and the other two foreign languages that are crowding my brain (Italian and the 6 or 7 German phrases I’ve managed to learn) I’m at a loss for words.

“A little Italian” I reply in Italian. This satisfies her as she proceeds to tell me that the convent is locked up at 11:30 at night. I understand and make my way to my room.

I really wish that I had spent more (any) time study the history, etc. of Florence before coming here. There is definitely a different feel here than Venice. It is MUCH more crowded. Probably part of that is due to it being a Saturday when I arrived but there are many more tourists and stores, restaurants, etc. catering to tourists. It is also a bit more expensive than Venice (if that is possible) by my not so scientific method of comparing costs of ice cream cones.

Cars and motorcycles are allowed in the city centre area with a permit (I think) but you always need to be careful walking as the streets are narrow and the there’s always someone speeding through.

Busy Streets in Florence

The most famous bridge here is the Ponte Vecchio (I think it means old bridge). Like the Rialto bridge in Venice this has shops on it, possible apartments above the shops. The only time you can really tell that you’re on a bridge is when you’re at the apex and can check out the view of the river, with all the other tourists.

Gold Merchants on the Ponte Vecchio (the bridge)

Evidently now this is the place to buy gold or where all the gold merchants  are. I think in the past (hundreds of years ago) there were butchers or leather workers.

Overall I’m glad I came to Florence. I would like to spend more time someday in Tuscany in general, perhaps take day trips to the countryside to really get a feel and appreciation for it. Venice was definitely more intimate, stores and restaurants open later. Never really felt unsafe anywhere in Venice and didn’t think twice about walking back late from dinner through dark alleys to the hotel (of course we were together as a group). Florence has a city feel, deserted areas that close up at night, etc. Not necessarily worse, just different.

Florence Photo Gallery

P.S. It’s Sunday morning and I’m sitting in a Laundromat writing this while my clothes wash and dry. I discovered it last night (a real blessing as I really needed to find one) while I was walking around the streets noticing how deserted the city became at night.

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~ by l on October 5, 2008.

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