Archive for November, 2006
We had been denied Internet in Tuscany, and by the time we got to Florence we were wanting badly to check our email. When we got to our hotel and noticed that right outside our window was an Internet cafe, Internet Train, that had wi-fi, we thought what the hell, lets buy a couple of hours and see if it works from our hotel room. It was pretty cheap at 2.50 Euro for an hour. We had a pretty good signal and the first night I posted six blogs that had already been written and were just sitting on my hard drive, and also responded to my mother who now probably thought I was dead as I had “ignored” two of her emails. Two hours went by too quickly. The next thing I remember was looking at the clock and seeing that I was out of time. Shit, I used up 5 Euro and Chris didn’t even have time to do anything. So, next A.M. there we were buying 4 more hours.
I am sure, by now, you know how the story goes. The Internet Train is like a drug dealer. Sure you can have an hour ma’am. Here is your bag of www “crack”. Go have fun. But then, when your time is up you need another hit. Over the next few days, we made several trips to that counter to buy more time. There were so many things we needed to do, like pay bills, blog, email, call family and friends on Skype, not to mention, it is ridiculous how much you need the Internet when you are overseas trying to arrange/research future traveling sites, like hotels/hostels, language classes, car rentals, etc. So, how much did we use over 3 days/4 nights you ask? Well, I am ashamed to say, but it was 15 hours, and truthfully, we probably would have bought one more hour had they not closed early on the weekend. We are sad aren’t we? Here we were in Florence, Italy and we spent 15 hours of it on the Internet. LOL
11/10/06 Today we went to the Accademia. It is small compared to all the art galleries I have drug Chris through in Europe so far, but it houses one of the most notable sculptures in the world, DAVID. Yes, THE David. Michelangelo sculpted him in 1501. He was originally supposed to be on top of the Duomo (cathedral), but everyone in Florence liked him so much that they put him outside of the Palazzo Vecchio (He was eventually moved inside the Accademia to get him out of the polluted air). Because of the fact that he is not on top of the Duomo though, his proportions are a bit off, as he was originally created to be looked at from far below. From a lowly piece of marble, that all the other sculptors had dismissed as too tall, shallow & flawed, he was born. I mean can you believe that? Michelangelo created a masterpiece from a hand-me-down? For you that don’t know the biblical story, David was a simple shepherd boy of the Israelites who took down the mighty giant Goliath with only his sling and a rock. To find him, you have to go through the first smaller part of the gallery and then you wind around to this second hallway, where there are several other unfinished sculptures called The Prisoners by Michelangelo, but at the end is this HUGE rotunda in which he stands. He is huge. I did not know it but he stands 14 feet tall, not including the huge pedestal. You can walk all around him and this was the first time in my life that I got to see his “behind”. It is quite nice and perfect, almost pinchable if I do say so. LOL It was a NO PHOTO ZONE, but Chris managed to sneak a few snapshots of his backside for me. For those of you that want a better photo op, there is an exact duplicate of him in the Palazzo Vecchio where he used to stand. Chris of course tried to recreate his contrapposto stance, where the person’s weight is centered on only one half of the body, while the other half is relaxed. I think to truly compare though, he should have been naked with a sling shot.
Today we also went to Vivoli’s. Vivoli’s is the BEST gelato that I have ever eaten. We shared a medium size but had them mix chocolate and banana together. I would have liked more banana instead of the super rich chocolate though. Chocolate is Chris’ favorite flavor, not mine. Next time, if ever I go back, I get my own serving, NO MATTER WHAT, and he can’t share! Silly Chris trying to cheat me out of gelato. What was he thinking? Is he insane? What’s wrong with him? Doesn’t he know by now that I am a gelato connoisseur?
Today was a day of art. We were in Florence (Firenze in Italian). It was the birthplace of the renaissance in the 1400s. The word renaissance itself means “rebirth”. It was fueled by the money of the Medici family in Florence. It was the time of Michelangelo, Leonardo DaVinci and Raphael to name a few. It was when Europe started coming out of the dark ages and back into the age of enlightenment that was ancient Rome & Greece. Art became more realistic and three dimensional. In were the Greek & Roman gods & goddesses and out were the themes of Christianity. We as humans sought to become more of individuals in control of our own destiny instead of just letting it occur around us while we thought of more important things, like what the church promised awaited us in heaven.
To get an appreciation for this renaissance, we visited the Uffizi Gallery. It is loaded with most of the great artists. Botticelli’s famous Birth of Venus painting, that I LOVE, is here along with several of his others. I found myself just sitting down and staring at her beautiful face. There were also unfinished paintings by Leonardo DaVinci, and even more impressive, in a special exhibit, were some of the actual pages from his notebooks documenting his studies of flight, architecture, and even more fascinating for me, his studies of human anatomy. His detailed drawings look pretty similar to my anatomy textbooks in college. It made me a feel a closer connection to him. I think I was in the DaVinci exhibit almost an hour before I even entered any of the official Uffizi galleries. They were actually my favorite part of the museum.
We rented a car for our time with La Mia Toscana. It was easier and allowed us access to some of the hill towns in Tuscany, plus it allowed us to feel like normal U.S. tourists if only for a short amount of time. The cars in Europe are smaller, probably because of gas prices, and our rental was no exception. It was a 4 door Smart car. The make 2 door Smart cars but they are super small and I doubt that our luggage would have actually fit in it. It was fun to actually be in a car after not riding in one for over 2 months. We got an automatic, but it was a weirdo automatic. It had a stick shift just like a manual but the stick shift kind of reminded me of something that belonged in a video arcade because you could also operate it like a manual transmission with out the clutch. The stick did not actually “shift”, it just “toggled” it to the left and that changed gears between automatic or the manual levels 1-4. There was a LCD display on the dash that told you what gear the car was in. I told Chris he had full car driving responsibility, as I was nervous about driving in a foreign country, and he did really well after getting his bearings with the dimensions of the car, turning radius etc. He actually drove the car more in the manual gears because he was able to shift it smoother than the car was actually trying to do itself. He even navigated multiple roundabouts without killing anyone or damaging any property. I was so proud of him. It barely used any gas and was quite a treat. All in all definately the way to see Tuscany.