Home of the Renaissance Men
Trip Start Apr 03, 2007
69Trip End Jun 16, 2007
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At breakfast this morning, I met a young couple that stayed in another room here at the B&B. They were from Hawaii, and were doing the south-to-north route through Italy (seems to be the more popular direction, I seem to be one of the few north-to-south-ers). I told them a bit about Venice. They checked out to head there today.
Strangely enough, the place where I bought my bus ticket yesterday was closed today, with no sign explaining why that I could see
While waiting in Poggibonsi for the connecting bus to Florence, I met a couple from the UK. He was big time into soccer, and was telling me all about the Liverpool vs. Milan match that's going to be in Athens next week (Wed, I think). "It's going to be the biggest thing ever!" he said. "Tickets are going for 1700 Euros a piece". He's got a flight booked to be there, but couldn't get a return flight. No matter, being there is the important thing, getting back is secondary. Soccer is, I think, in some ways the new religion of Europe.
After arriving in Venice around 10:00 AM, I wandered around the train station for probably close to an hour searching for the "D" elettrico bus. Turns out I went every single place around the station except where the bus stops, before I finally realized where the stop is. The elettrico busses are short, squatty busses, and easy to spot once you know what to look for. The good news was, they run quite often (about every 10 minutes or so), so I didn't have to wait long once I finally found the stop. In retrospect, I could have just walked and gotten there even sooner (the major sites are fairly compact, and the train station is centrally located as well), but I wasn't sure of the distance and didn't want to have a long, hot, walk like I did in Pisa.
The "D" elettrico goes right to the Ponte Vecchio, the famous bridge with the shops on both sides
Next, I headed back towards the Ponte Vecchio to head towards the Uffizi Gallery. Approaching the Ponte Vecchio from the south, you don't even realize you're on a bridge until you're halfway across and it opens up and you're looking out at the Arno River. It's really just like the street continues onward, since there's shops on both sides of the road. It was crowded, and the stuff for sale was standard touristy stuff. The bridge does look neat from the outside, though, with its tacked on buildings hanging off the side.
Now I'd heard some dire warnings about huge waits at the Uffizi Gallery. After all, it's packed full of masterpieces in a city that generated the spark that started the artistic revolution of the Renaissance. Some people had heard of 2 or even 3 hour waits just to get in. Well, it was a fairly long wait, but it wasn't that bad - right around 1 hour. It was certainly worth the wait, though. Room after room of masterpieces. In one room alone are two of Botticelli's most famous: Birth of Venus, and Allegory of Spring. Also in the Uffizi are Michelangelo's only surviving easel painting and Titian's Venus of Urbino. There were just so many works that you just can't take your eyes off, they're that beautiful or fascinating.
Having spent the better part of the afternoon at the Uffizi, I headed back towards the train station. On the way, I passed by the Duomo
I made it back to the bus station on time, but for some unknown reason I looked at the Sunday schedule and thought the bus left at 6:40 PM, when it actually leaves at 6:20 PM on weekdays. I did realize my mistake, but not until after the 6:20 PM bus had already left. The next (and last of the day) bus didn't leave until 7:50 PM, so rather than hang around the bus station another hour, I just got on another bus to Poggibonsi. I'm actually glad I did, because instead of going the direct route on the freeway, it went much of the route on the back roads, so I got to see a lot more of the area. It's really a neat area with vineyards and large red-tile roofed houses on the hilltops. In Poggibonsi, I still had to wait an hour for the connecting bus back to San Gimignano. There were a couple girls backpacking there that came in by train but didn't realize that they don't sell tickets on the bus. But since it was the last bus, the bus driver let them get on anyway. The girls were getting worried that they might end up stranded there for the night (not the greatest place to be stranded either), so it's a good thing they made it on the bus. Getting back into San G around 9:30 PM, the place was practically deserted since all the tourists headed back to Florence or Siena for the night. After facing the crowds in Florence today, I'll be happy to head for the much quiter Volterra tomorrow (another hill town that's supposed to be even less touristy than San G). As far as Florence, there's still a few things I want to see there (the Accademia, Medici Chapels, and Santa Croce), so I'll try to hit those on my way to Rome on Thursday. I certainly liked what I saw so far.