Day 9: Firenze and on to Roma! :) (Florence and Rome)

Because we couldn't get our pass into the city the day before, we headed into the city very early… and began our day with a group picture overlooking the city. We also saw one of two replicas of Michelangelo's David statue (the original is in the Academy, which we didn't have time for, given that we only had half a day to explore Firenze.

After we overlooked the city and got our bearings, we went down to Gold Corner for a gold demonstration. The cool thing is that we got to handle some of the amazing gold jewelery that Florence is famous for. And since the standard is 18 carat gold (they don't make anything of lower carats) these were very pricey items!

This was followed by a leather working demonstration at Peruzzi. If only I were made of money! 😉 No really, Florence is the place for leather and gold. The leather demonstration was showing how one puts 24 carat gold leaf on a leather garbage can [later I actually bought a said garbage can… why? 'cause it was a pretty decent souvenir price-wise, had BOTH leather and gold, and had pictures embossed in the leather of some of the famous art from the area].

We next visited a church — the one where people like Dante and others of great fame were buried. Beautiful but under construction/repair like most buildings we visited. We spent quite a while there. Mom got the audio tour which I think would have been better suited for a TRULY long visit rather than our short one (comparatively speaking).

Anywho… our next destination was one of the last remaining bridges that still had buildings on it (they used to only construct bridges with buildings on it). We were warned in advance that they would gouge you price-wise were you to buy anything on the bridge since it was so touristy but still!

We then walked to the Duomo which we saw from the outside, along with many statues. This was followed by determining that it was too early in the day to get food at most of the restaurants so we found food at a little cafe on the street. I liked my pesto pasta, and mom enjoyed her sandwich. We did manage to find some gelato before leaving Firenze as well. (and the aforementioned shopping). I determined that I need to someday go to Venice for the Murano glass (glass being one of my things).

Comments about Firenze/Florence:
— Dibs to never returning to that hotel unless they turn it around (food service-wise!!)
— Loved the leather and gold stuff… if I was rich… 🙂
— The statues were great… If I went back during non-peak season I would totally want to check out the museums.
— More exploring of Tuscany is in order, preferably once I can understand Italian better, English is definitely not as common here as elsewhere.
— I want to eat at some more of those restaurants… and eat more gelato and…. yeah.
— And climbing the stairs in the Duomo like the Ohs did would be fabulous! 🙂

And so we drove off to Roma/Rome from there… which took three hours.

Upon arrival, instead of going to our hotel, we went on a walking tour of Rome, beginning above the Spanish steps, which we descended to the Spanish square. Here we learned how all the fountains in Rome have drinking water and are always flowing (they are so old that were they to stop, the pipes would burst).

We went form there to the Pantheon (which is amazing!! they even had a choir singing when we were there!) the Fountains of Trevi (which are AMAZING!! and yes we did throw coins in, as to how many I'm not tellin' 🙂 ). We were warned about how the gypsy pickpockets target mostly tourists who aren't with tour groups and how they are actually recognizably gypsies, but that non-locals can't always tell them apart from other people since most no longer wear the gypsy regalia but blend better (not perfectly!).

Our excellent tour eventually ended in Piazza Nuovo (sp?) where mom and I ate at an excellent outdoor patio of a restaurant. I totally loved the waiters although I must say I got impatient waiting for the bill (people in Europe who aren't on a fast paced tour like ours totally are way more relaxed than I was… I think I'll need to do some travelling the way Aliana did sometime). The waiters kept playing with each other and trying to have fun. When a newlywed couple came walking through the square and later returned being driven in a beautiful car with a police escort, the waiter served them champagne as they passed! So cool!

After dinner, we walked into the square where I had my portrait done — which is gorgeous. Mom had hers done by a different artist afterward. Then we drove to the hotel — which is in Mussolini's part of Rome, that is to say surrounded by Mussolini architecture: he wanted to revive Rome in the style of the Ancients so there are a lot of more modern looking columns and white buildings in the area. Very different but also quite interesting.