Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Er I Mean Walking

(This is long; I need an editor 🙂 . Pictures are at the bottom for those that want to skip ahead)

I’m back in Florence, Italy for an extended period of time, having only spent two days here last time (last October) and not really knowing a thing about the city when I was here. This time I’ve planned ahead and actually researched the city and the surrounding Tuscan hill towns.

But the first step is getting here. My trusty friends at Delta get me to Pisa safely (closest large airport) and early, although it did require 3 connections and dealing with JFK airport.

Not my favorite international gateway. Traffic wasn’t bad today nor were there the usual Kennedy delays; it’s just that Delta’s complex at Kennedy is spread over 3 terminals, it’s old (remnants of the Pan Am acquisition in the 90’s), not much food selection, and I can’t find WiFi to save my life. They can put it in the airplane for the flight up (inflight internet is great) but can’t get it in the terminal; go figure.

Catch the 12:43 train from the Pisa airport (nice that there is a train station at the airport) to Florence. Transit time is an hour and fifteen minutes. By this time I’m working on a couple of hours sleep, sweaty, and pretty much need a shower and a nap. Not feeling real sociable, but as the trip goes on I end up striking up a conversation with a couple of college girls sitting near me that are studying abroad this semester (Manchester, England) and have the week off so are traveling with their friends (sitting a few seats over). The last half hour of the train journey goes by quick and I try to impart what little wisdom I know of Florence from my whole two days here last year (“uh, buy a map, reserve museum tickets ahead so you don’t have to stand in line”).

Once in Florence, all I have to do is call Lorenzo and have him meet me at the apartment. He highly recommends taking a taxi (“the city is confusing”) but thanks to my overconfidence (i.e. the apartment is about two blocks from where I stayed last year with the nun I got into an argument with) and Google streetview (I found the location ahead of time), I decline and proceed to walk. Plus, I can really use the exercise after sitting for so long.

Twenty minutes later I’m at the door, which I recognized instantly due to my “Google driveby”. Get settled in, shower, nap, and then drag myself out of bed to explore and wake up. Otherwise my body will never adjust.

I decide to climb Giotto’s Campanile (or Giotto’s Bell Tower). It’s part of the Duomo complex, 227.9 feet tall, and has 414 steps. First I need caffeine. I stop at a bar (coffee bar) along the way, grab a quick espresso (redundant, I know) and continue to the tower. For the sum of 6 Euros you can climb to the top and enjoy the view.

Passageways are narrow, as seen below. Passing people opposite direction is pretty cramped.

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There are two or three levels or floors if you will, that the stairs open up into on the way up. Below is a view of the level where the bell was stored looking down through the tower to the other levels.

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Finally, the view from the top: a panorama of much of Florence.

Florence, Italy View of Duomo

It’s not a killer climb but my legs were definitely feeling the burn near the end. Probably should have paced myself better.

From there over to the Piazza della Signoria, where the original statue of Michelangelo’s David was placed.

Florence, Italy Michelangelo's David

Now it’s in a museum and this is a reproduction. I’ll eventually see the original, however I was amazed at the statue’s size (17′) and the detail in the hand and muscles.

Florence, Italy Michelangelo's David

Florence, Italy Michelangelo's David

Am currently reading a book on Michelangelo, which is fascinating and adds context to much of the city. Finally a short walk up the Arno River; nice view of the Ponte Vecchio (literally “old bridge”) at night.

Florence, Italy Ponte Vecchio at Night

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~ by l on September 15, 2009.

One Response to “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Er I Mean Walking”

  1. Keep writing and posting pictures. I enjoyed it. I hope to get over there some time, but probably not in the foreseeable future, rug rats and all. Later, Liz

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