Florence and Francesco
Trip Start May 27, 2012
10Trip End Jun 05, 2012
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Francesco first took us to the house of Dante Alighieri, the famous Italian poet who wrote works such as Dante's Inferno. Next we stopped at the Loggia del Mercato Nuovo, a small covered outdoor market. A small statue of a boar called Fontana del Porcellino stands at the edge, and visitors rub the boar's nose in order to return to the city one day. From there we circled back to the Duomo and went inside. The church was not as detailed as I had expected, but Francesco pointed out that it was built with a different style than some of Europe's more prominent churches
Once we finished there it was time to start climbing things! The bell tower of the Duomo was first, and all I could think about was the video game series Assassin's Creed. Part of it takes place in Florence and Venice so I recognized a lot of the scenery along our trip. It was a fun climb up the tower, and I got my dose of exercise and circular staircases. The view from the top was fantastic! Francesco showed us the direction where he lived, a short little ride out toward the hills around the city but still well inside Florence. After we climbed down we went inside the baptistery, which is the older building right next to the Duomo. The ceiling is pained gold and depicts biblical scenes and angels. From the baptistery we headed north, grabbing a snack and enjoying the scenery. I felt very comfortable walking around on the cobblestone and narrow sidewalks. Even though the traffic could be a bit random and startling to some people, it wasn't much to me as there was always more foot traffic. Our next church we stopped at was built for the Medici, an old ruling family of Florence, and was called the Opera Medici Laurenziana
Francesco took us to the national library next. The main room he showed us was the study room, which was covered in old books and very quiet. If I was ever a student in Florence this is where you could find me. By now it was early afternoon, and we still hadn't had lunch, so Francesco took us to a nearby panini shop. This place turned out to be pure Italian - a little sandwich shop on a corner that no tourists ever found or set foot it. There were a couple teenagers in the back pressing paninis and the menu above the counter was only in Italian. It was nice to have a local order for me, and I still don't know what exactly I had other than it was delicious. After we ate we went to another famous church, Santa Maria Novella
Our next stop was one of the most historical, the Basilica di Santa Croce. It was a decent walk to our east across the city, so we saw a lot of the city walking over. This church had a uniquely decorated wooden ceiling and had a lot of beautiful side chapels, however the altar was under construction so we couldn't really see it. What really made this church stand out was the number of historical figures buried there. I had no idea Galileo, Michelangelo, and Machiavelli (just to name a few!) were buried there. It was amazing to see their graves and imagine the importance of all these people. After Santa Croce we hailed a taxi, which was "very expensive" to Francesco
(it was about the same price as in any big US city) and went to Piazzale Michelangelo, a lookout to the south of the city that provided excellent views of Florence
We found dinner at a small family owned restaurant nearby. It was delicious! We split a nice bottle of wine, a salami plate, bruschetta, and I had a pasta dish that was purple due to the wine sauce. Francesco introduced me to an Italian dessert I'd never heard of before - chocolate pear pie. It is definitely a European style dessert, any American would deem it not sweet enough, but I enjoyed trying something different. After eating Francesco gave us a walking tour back down into the city, passing an old city gate and part of the city walls. We walked all the way back to the center of town and got to see more of the nightlife. When we reached the hotel Dad went to bed and Francesco and I went out for a drink nearby. I am very grateful to have such a good friend in Florence, I never in my wildest dreams thought I would get a tour of the city from a friend I made in Copenhagen. We sat around and talked for a while, and I got a glimpse into what an Italian's life was like in this city. It was a very long and fun first full day in Florence that I'll always remember.