Busy day in Firenze

Trip Start Sep 17, 2011
Trip End Oct 09, 2011

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Flag of Italy  , Tuscany,
Friday, September 23, 2011

Sept 22 -- 8:30 pm

Went for a little walk before supper... Ponte Vecchio is very beautiful at sunset;  the Oltrarno part of town looks like an inviting place to meander during the day (lots of artisans & artists) the piazzas (piazze?) we had seen during the day were much less crowded, very romantic; and the Duomo, well what can I say, still spectacular. 
Tonight's menu is "Fesa Tacchino A Fette" (need to look that up, looks like thin slices of turkey) and "chicche a la casa linga" (looks like mini gnocchi) with pesto sauce. And some insalada. All from the local supermarket!
Early start tomorrow: 9:30 reservation at the Accademia, to see *the* David...

Sept 23 -- 9:30 pm

Today's day was brought to us by Michelangelo.First we went to the Accademia where we had reservations but since the lineup wasn't very busy, we went through the "regular" door and avoided the €4 fee each (that was a great trick from Tripadvisor forums -- let your reservation run out if the wait line is short as none of it is paid in advance.) The real David didn't disappoint! What a spectacular piece and to think Michelangelo was only 25 years old when he carved this. No wonder he ran away from home as a young teen when his father forbid him from being an artist (he was taken in my the famous Medici family).

There were some other interesting pieces at the Accademia but as far as museums go it's a pretty quick tour. We got out of there shortly after 11 am and headed to the Santa Croce church (by circumventing the central part of the city somewhat). Santa Croce is a wonderful huge church, not so much famous for it's architecture as for the artwork and famous people buried there -- including: Michelangelo (see the theme?) There were frescoes by Giotto (who sort of broke tradition by adding a bit of perspective to the otherwise "flat" Byzantine art -- he was about 100 years ahead of his times) and there was a crucifix by Donatello. There was a bunch of other stuff too but it's frankly a bit overwhelming!

One of the things we've been doing in the evenings is reading ahead what we're going to see as well as pre-listening to some of the podcasts -- then it's more familiar when we get into the places.

By the time we finished those two places I was beat and ready for some lunch. We found a small little restaurant: Restaurant del Fagioli (no tablecloths, paper napkins, about 8-10 tables) with one person running the whole show -- greeting everyone, taking orders, topping the pizzas, serving food & drinks, adding the bills -- she was amazing to watch! At the end of our very good meal and despite the local custom of not tipping (only rounding up the bill by a Euro or two) Rod presented her with a large tip, addressing her directly as the hardest-working waitress in Italy. She absolutely deserved it!

We headed home for a short break and then did something that turned out to be just too much -- but soooo cool! We hiked up the hill to the San Miniato al Monte Basilica. Saint Minas is said to have carried his own severed head up to his hermitage after being executed for being a (early) Christian. There a spectacular marble church was built, with a marvelous mosaic dome over the altar. Michelangelo thought this church was so spectacular that during a seige in 1530, he had it covered in mattresses to protect it. Today there was someone practicing the organ in preparation for a wedding tomorrow and it made the experience that much more special. We had hoped to hit the gift shop there as we'd heard the monks make liquors but they closed early... oh well...

The trek down the hill wasn't as cardio-vascularly challenging but it took it's toll on my back. Add doing some groceries on the way home, along cobblestone streets and I was in tears by the time we hit home. Although it's been a mind-blowing trip so far, I'm really frustrated by my stupid body: my stomach still hasn't fully settled down (read: no coffee, no wine, no gelato) -- every time I eat I still feel nauseated; the other end isn't all that great either; the damn mosquito bites from Venice are still big itchy welts (yes, I brought the anti-allergy cream); my feet still need bandaids every morning for the stupid blisters from running in the Frankfurt airport and now my dumb old back is reminding me that I can't be the go-go-go tourist of yesteryears. Crap.

Ok, enough whining, the Tylenol and Robaxicet have kicked in and it's time for bed. 
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