Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Tuscan Beauty

Trip Start May 14, 2008
Trip End Aug 14, 2008

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Flag of Italy  , Tuscany,
Sunday, May 25, 2008

Under the Tuscan sun. A phrase that kept popping in my mind as I enjoyed our first glimpse of good weather. It was a relaxing train ride from Bologna to Florence. It seemed as if there was one continuous town the entire trip. Generations of Italians coming to Tuscany to build a villa in the hills and grow on the fertile soil. Rolling green hills and the perfect breeze seemed like they may never stop. That was the first time I felt at ease enough to just smile and shake my head that I was in Europe.
Florence did come eventually and since the railyard wasnt as nice as the country side, I decided to get off. This train station was the first we encountered that had people trying to sell you rooms right off the train. I got some info, but wanted to explore all of our options first. Another man came sprinting out of nowhere as Allison and I were about to reach the tourist information office. He told me he had a room with bathroom. I told him that the other gentleman had offered thirty five and that would be the only price I would accept. He agreed so we followed into town to look at the sight.
It was a magnificent room with plush furnishings, paintings and antique everything. The mans wife, a pleasantly happy elderly Italian women was bright eyed and smiling at us. This is the stuff dreams were made of. I set my bag down and declared a sale. Then the mans english speaking nephew came into the room to help us with the details. When he told his uncle that I agreed to 35, I truly thought a sniper had taken him out through the window. After he caught his breath I was able to figure out that the numbers 3 and 5 had gotten lost in translation. Fortunately for us my haggling skills had been refined. My technique eventually landed us a slightly different but extremely nice bedroom upstairs for 38. I find in haggling that you selling your willingness to leave without purchasing is the best key. That or brass knuckles. The room had large Italian style shutter windows, Italian marble floors, antique furnishings and the smell of fresh air. We could not have been happier. We were now ready to explore the artistic capital of Italy and the birthplace of the Renaissance.

Tony and I were in love with Florence at first sight. Not only had we found a beautiful room for a steal but the magic of the art filled city was all around us. Street musicians at every corner playing a tune. Painters everywhere showing off their work. The histroy was romantic, the statues were all over the place, and they had performers everywhere trying to entertain the crouds for some coins.
The old Italian couples house we stayed in gave us a real glimpse of how they were living. So we joined in with everyone else eating their food and doing our laundry out of our bathroom and hanging it on our clothesline outside the window.
The weather was beautiful and one of the first days we ran into a huge market. Fresh fruit, fish, and meat were everywhere and they dont waste any part of their animals. They had cow brain the the skin of pigs, cows, chickens etc. displayed everywhere. Something you dont see too often in the states.
 The two highlights of the trip for me were seeing the statue of David by Michelangelo and going to the Uffizi, one of the top 5 museums in the world. I would just like to point out to my Mom, Dad, Grandpa, and Uncle Virgil that in the Uffizi one of the paintings I got to walk up to and stare at is the same painting that hangs over your mantel at the house!!!!
Tony will talk more on the Uffizi later but I would like to take a moment for the Academia. That is the place where Michelangelos unfinished statues for Julius the second stand, as well as his most famous "David".
Wow was it cool, I think Tony and I just stared at if for 30 minutes or so and just took in the grandness of it. It stands 17 feet, a lot taller than we thought-it was magnificant. Since we were not allowed to take pictures and  didnt want to buy a postcard we could get anywhere, we decided to pull one of our illegal manuveours. This I'm sorry to say isnt the first time. We have taken illegal shots at San Marco, I took a couple of illegal shots in Westminster and all they do is warn you not to. Sometimes i think they will kick you out but we act like stupid tourists say we are sorry and we have not been kicked out yet.
Anyway instead of taking a lot of pictures we took video from the side of tonys hip. The one we uploaded here is the first shorter one, we have a longer video but it would take forever to upload so you will have to see it when we get back. And for everyone who thinks its just horrible we took illegal pis, it's not really, the only reason they dont want you to take pictures is so you will buy them for a heavy cost in the gift shop. Plus there is nothing like having your own shot of the statue of David!!!!!!!! So Awesome!!!!!!!!

Allison is right, the "David" is very awe inspiring. The Accademia is basically just that, Give me 6.50 and I will show you "David". A very small museum, but not to be missed. The Uffizi was the greatest museum I have ever been to. Though I have been to New York twice, I never went to "The Met", so I have no comparison. The first piece I saw as I entered the grand doors on the third floor museum was a head and chest sculpture of Julius Caeser. I read the description and it noted that this was sculpted around 30-40b.c. I took a step back as I realized that the artist was more than likely looking at Julius himself for the likeness. After I decided it was OK for me to stop looking at that, I turned to my right again in surprise. A sculpture of Caeser Augustus dated from around 0-10a.d.. Then I gazed down the hallway and saw that around 20 sculptures of emperors ran chronologically down the hallway. I only wish I could have pictures to share.
The Uffizi was an elegant museum with, its hallways works of art in their own right. It had plenty of paintings from early to late rennaissance. The main attractions were rooms dedicated to some of our favorite childhood characters... the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. We first saw the room dedicated to Raphael. After that came Leonardo (Da Vinci) then Michelangelo. All of the paintings in the museum were incredible, but the ones by those men seemed different, and better in a sense. It wasnt because they looked more like real life, but that they had more passion or creativity.
Not a ninja, but one of my favorites is Boticelli. He had many pieces in the museum that made it hard to move on. As allison had mentioned earlier, we had the privelage of studying the original "The Birth of Venus". The Uffizi was the highlight of Florence. We saved it for last, and it surely was the best.
As much as we wanted to stay in Florence, we had to be moving on. We walked through the streets and paused for about 10 seconds at all the sights we had seen. One last good stare, a deep breath, then move on. We got back to our room and grabbed our bags to head to the station.
Though it is hard to leave a beautiful city, it is exciting to go somewhere else. Allison and I have a rough itinerary, but nothing enough to dull our spontenaity. We got to the train station not sure where we wanted to go next. We were going to go ask information about trains and destinations, but the line looked extremely long. We looked up at the board and saw a regional train(stops at all small towns on the way) heading toward Siena. We checked our watches and counted three minutes to departure. With 35 extra pounds on our backs, we grabbed each others hand and made a full sprint to track four. We entered the passenger car and the train shut doors and started off before we made our seats. Luckily we were in a relatively empty car and we could use the four seats, two facing each other to spread out. It was a fantastic day so we put the large windows down. Our spirits were high because we knew all that lay ahead was more Tuscan country side and an endless cool breeze.
We arrived in Siena to find that the train station is nowhere near the city center. Siena is a city built high on a tuscan hill. It was once the capital of Tuscany and rivaled Florence before encountering the plague and invasions shortly there after. Constantly having to keep an eye on our budget persuaded us to walk to the center of town. We used our limited Italian "Prego, Dirrezione il centro" combined with our hands outstreched pointing two seperate directions to find our way. We started up the hill from the train station and realized we were already half way up the hill. By the time we reached the center, we had walked about 4 kilometers uphill. I have included some pictures of the Piazza Del Campo. That is the city center, and a handsome bit of 14th century archtecture and city planning. We got a quick place to stay and came right back to the square. Cafe's run all along the back side of the curved and sloped half circle that is the Piazza. We found a nice one to rest our legs at. Allison started with anitipasti of meats and cheeses typical to Siena and I had a white bean and bread stew. After that, we filled our craving of more tortellini. Allisons with ham in cream and mine alla Ragu' Bolognese(no where near as good as in bologna, which means it was still delicious). We shared only a half liter of the house red, but it got the job done. We could feel our worn legs melt into the seats as we watched the hundreds of birds circle the bell tower. It was one of the most fulfilling meals I can remember and the ambiance matched. The rest of Siena went by rather fast. I do want to mention how incredible the view is looking far down at the valley from the city high above. Sienas charm came in its quieter and slower pace than all of our previous cities. Yet another worth while Tuscan city.

These blogs are a little behind because we spend a lot of time doing things crucial to our well-being on a constant basis. It is also hard to find the right internet spot. Allison and I spent over an hour uploading these pics so I hope it is enough. Our camera is not a scenery style camera and has limited zoom clarity. It might help to see these better if you click them on to your picture viewer on your computer to have a larger pic and magnifying capabilities. Also, if these blogs are too long or short let us know. I would hate for people to not read them because they are too read them if they were overbaring or uninformative. Again please leave comments and we miss you all...not too much though. much love from italy

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msharp3831 on

Tuscan Beauty
Pictures! I want pictures!!

confederate on

Dear Tony and Allison, looks like lots of fun. Try the soft mozzarella in whey.
We had our huge garage sale over Memorial Day weekend. Fairly successful and lots of people liked the loft.
We are now packing for Colorado. Connie's Uncle Ralph died two weeks ago, two days ago her Uncle Charlie, and last night her mom. We are gonna try to make Charlie's funeral Friday and Margaret's on Monday. Margaret had a massive heart attack and it looked like she might make it as she had time to talk to everyone. Tony you should know that she always considered you boys as her grandchildren. Last words I know she said was: 'Tell Dana I'm still praying for the boys.' She knows it has always been my hope you all come back to the Church. So you guys have a great advocate in Margaret. Please pray for her soul and the rest of the family. God bless and love, Dad

msharp3831 on

Tuscan Beauty
Sorry, my first blog was before you finished your entry. Love the entry and i love the pictures. Hope you are having the best time ever!

elmaanum on

T&A Envy
Well I must admit I am quite envious so far of your Italian adventures, as Tuscany is one part of Italy I've always wanted to see. Mainly because of the views and food, not really the people (jk Allison!). Also, the busts of the Emperors has left me wanting another trip to Europe. It's good to hear that you are able to keep to your strict backpacking regimen, which I think was a great idea! Anyhow, glad you two are having a good time!

gustrouble on

my brother from another mother
what up bro!!!! how is italy man ??? nice pics put up more and keep in touch, and say allison hello love you guys

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