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Days 10-11, our first days in Florence

Our days of rest in Verona were brief, and were exactly the recharge we needed before the flurry that was Florence. We arrived in Florence in the afternoon and while dad and Curtis returned the rental cars (a job made much more difficult by street closures for an annual bike race we knew nothing about), the rest of us met our landlord of the week and got checked into our new digs. Something I haven't talked about much is how we secured our accommodations, and if you enjoy traveling but haven't perused the VRBO (Vacation rental by owner) site, you might be missing out. It was a new on on me, but not to the rest of our group, and Julie and dad secured used it to secure most of our stays, all of which were very enjoyable. In Florence, our apartment was just a block away from the Ponte Vecchio, and had a wonderful view of the Arno. In addition to the excellent location, the apartment provided us with four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a gathering room, a dining room, and a kitchen. Sure, a hotel will change your bed and give you clean towels, but staying in these apartments allowed us a place to be together, and overall it saved us money. 

Back to Florence...after our brief country stay it was a bit overwhelming at first, this definitely having something to do with the bike race that closed so many of the city roads, and so many of our planned crosswalks. The race lasted the entire week that we were there, and it forced us to make a few detours, but while this was a serious issue for our drivers when they were returning the cars, it really wasn't that much of an inconvenience for the rest of the time. Plus the tourism office gave us a really great map of the city with the bike route and open crosswalks clearly marked to help us out.

Back to Florence again, I really thought it would be my favorite city of the trip, but in the end it couldn't beat Rome. Florence was the seat of the Renaissance, if such a thing existed, birthing front runners like Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, and Galileo. It is still home to many key Renaissance pieces and landmarks, and I loved these. Seeing the home, offices, and sanctuary of the Medicis was top on my list. But Florence as a whole was a little too carnival for me. Where Rome seem integrated, with ancient and Renaissance sites spread throughout blocks of bars, shopping, and offices, Florence was everything in one place, and everything was a site hawking its desirables to the passersby. 

That being said, I loved everything we saw in Florence, and every minute of every day was full. 

Day one was really only a half day, and we spent it checking in and picking up up our Firenze Cards, which were worth every penny, not only for the savings, but for their line skipping powers. A big tip for visiting families: we purchased Calvin his own Firenze Card, and though it probably wasn't necessary at every site, without his own card we'd have had to wait in line at several sites, including the Academia and the Uffizi, and not having to wait was worth it by far.

Day two of Florence was our first real day in the city. We spent with Brunelleschi's dome (the dome of the Duomo), Donatello's David at the Bargello, the Palazzo Davanzati (a medieval tower house), a merry-go-round in the Piazza Republica, the Casa di Dante (in the building that might have been Dante's house, but probably not, with items that could-have-might-have-but-probably-didn't belong to Date, yadda yadda), the Duomo Museum (closed for construction except for two or three pieces), and the Palazzo Vecchio. It was a full and busy day that was as exhausting as it was rewarding, and just the start of a long few days in Florence.

A short side story: Calvin had long since finished the book he was reading on our trip, and since I'd underestimated the time he would have for reading, we'd packed only the one. So on our first day in Florence we looked up book stores that would sell book sin English as well as Italian. In this way we scored copies of a few interesting books set in Italy, or written by Italian authors, and while we waited for the rest of our party he sat outside the Casa di Dante and read Pinocchio, much to the delight of several tour groups, who paused to take his picture along their way.

Asleep on the drive from Verona to Florence...

The Arno in the morning

Ghiberti's doors on the Baptistry

Climbing the Duomo

Inside the dome
Brunelleschi's brick work

The steep climb over the dome to the top

Giotto's Tower from the top of Brunelleschi's Dome

The Bargello

Donatello's David

Palazzo Davanzati

Merry-Go-Round in the Piazza Republica

Casa di Dante

The ceiling in the Palazzo Vecchio (as made famous by Dan Brown)

Cosimo il Vecchio Medici

Lorenzo "The Magnificent" Medici

Dante's death mask

The Uffizi and the Galileo Science Museum, across the Arno from our apartment


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