Day 14 (Wednesday)
Today we visited the Uffizi. I hadn’t heard of this art museum before today, but I guess it is one of the best in the world. It is huge, and set up so that it goes chronologically through art. There were a few things that we had to stop and see for class before we were given time on our own.
We saw “Primavera” and “the Birth of Venus” by Boticelli, work by Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo, and hundreds of other paintings. It was amazing seeing the works in person. I don’t know much about art, or what makes a painting good or bad (and it’s kind of starting to seem like it’s all about who likes the art instead of how good technically it is), but seeing everything in the museum was amazing.
After the museum, we were given a long break before it was time to go to class. I went to the Market Centrale and picked up some spices and tomatoes to make a great lunch. Then, we met up as a group to make some breaded chicken, only to realize that the chicken was no good. Our meal of breaded chicken and pasta quickly turned into scrambled eggs and spaghetti, and the new motto, “spice makes the meal” was started.
Day 15 (Thursday)
Today was another excursion day, and just like when we got up early to catch a train to Pisa, we got up early to catch a bus today. This time, we wound through the hillsides on our way to Siena (and we each had a row to ourselves, that is traveling in luxury). The ride was a little over an hour, but one of the quietest hours I have ever experienced. The exhaustion is getting to everyone and it is pretty much sleep when you can without feeling guilty for missing Florence.
After arriving, we met up with our tour guide for the day, and were equipped with the little devices we have used for every tour. It is basically a radio that hangs around your next with one headphone attached. The guide has the same, only adds a microphone so it feels as if a personal friend is whispering in your ear as you walk around these amazing churches and cities.
Siena has something that I haven’t experienced very often, hills. Each hill is either a steep incline or decline. But, the history and communities in Siena made it one of the most interesting places for me. There are 17 districts that make up Siena, each with their own bar, church, stable, and animal to represent them. Then, each summer they have two horse races around the main piazza of their city. Only ten communities can race, so just a few weeks ago they had to choose those communities that will not be racing.
The real fun begins three days before the race. This is when the order that the communities get to chose their horse is randomly selected. There is no guarantee that a community will get a certain horse, and choosing the right jockey to go along with that horse is also very important. Then, the horse is put in the community’s stable and guarded up until the time of the race.
The piazza is filled with people the day of the race, all screaming for their horse, because as our guide told us it’s the horse that matters. There are jockeys who fall off at a certain corner, but a horse can win without someone riding it (and that has happened).
This all happens twice a year and then the communities who win get ribbons to display in their section.
Day 16 (Friday)
Today was our last day in Florence. We spent it by finishing up class in the morning and then heading out to the Galileo Museum. It was amazing to see all these inventions from so long ago in person. It’s hard to put ourselves back in the time when it wasn’t completely natural to believe that the sun is the middle of our solar system and the fact that the universe is unbelievably large and growing, but back then they believed what they saw. They saw that the sun rose and set, so why would it make sense to even think that the sun didn’t move.
Each day here in Florence is getting hotter, and today was a long hike all around Florence, which our professor has named, “the Galileo Walk.” The majority was uphill in the sun so by the time we got to the house that Galileo spent his house arrest in, we were walking zombies. Seeing Florence from above and the countryside around it was incredible. There are so many small streets that are hiding all their beauty for those willing to work to find them. Even after spending two weeks walking around and taking in as much as possible every minute, I would need another two to even begin to realize how much I am missing. We finished the tour at the Piazzale Michelangelo where I have watched the sunset a few nights.
Then, it was time to go back to the apartments, clean, pack, and get ready for our early ride tomorrow morning. We did manage to get out for our final dinner in Florence (we ate at the same place that we ate the first night, with the Duomo looming over again). Then, grabbed some gelato and filming a time-lapse of our walk back to remember the final time of walking down that street.
Rome Day 1 (Saturday)
Today started early with taxis picking us up and bringing us to the train station (mine almost brought us to the airport instead) and jumping on a train. The train went by quickly, and we were soon on our way to the hotel we will be living in for a week. The only problem was the rooms weren’t ready for us, so we had to store our luggage and try to go find something to do.
My first impression of Rome? It’s humid. I forgot how humid it was, but it came right back after ten minutes outside. We spent the morning walking around trying to get they layout here before going on a walking tour.
The walking tour was a lot of fun, and it was nice that we didn’t stop at all the main attractions because those are to come. Instead we learned more about the history, or layers, of the land and everything that has changed. There is a statue by our hotel called Pasquino, he is from ancient times, but was found and put on display on the Papal Road (one of the three we learned about) to show the power and influence the man had. It quickly became a way for the people of Rome to express their outrage and issues with the current events. At one point there was a second “talking” statue and Pasquino and him would have conversations. One morning everyone would go to Pasquino and read about the latest news, posted there by the community, and then the next morning they would go to this other statue to get the response. It was like the two were having an actual conversation. Sadly, the other statue has since been moved to a museum, but Pasquino still stands and is still as vocal as ever.
Then, after the tour it was time to go explore some more and find supper. I went out with a group of friends and we found a small bar where we could watch the Champions League final (Barcelona vs Juventus). We got this small upstairs portion to ourselves and it was fun to see and hear everyone watching the game. After that it was a walk through Piazza Navona, where we saw all sorts of street performers and some gelatto before heading back to the hotel.
Rome Day 2 (Sunday)
Today started out great. I got up, grabbed some breakfast and was ready to go to church at St Peters. We walked over, stood in the hugely long line, and took pictures of the amazing building. I noticed when we were waiting in line that I wasn’t feeling the best, but I wasn’t going to pass up this chance. It really hit me after mass started though I spent the entire mass wishing it was over so that I could go back to the hotel and sleep. Still, the ceremony was beautiful from what I can remember.
It was after we had gotten out of the church that we realized the Pope was going to be addressing the crowd. I wasn’t feeling the best, but like I said, I wasn’t going to miss this. I missed it, or at least the beginning. But hey, at least I now can point out a building where I got sick right before seeing the Pope speak.
The rest of the day was spent in bed, and much of my survival is thanks to my roommate who went out and bought some sprite and crackers.
I would love to post pictures, but the wifi at the hotel is not good at all, so sadly the upcoming posts will be pictureless. Unless, I find a solution.