Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Florence: May 28 - 30 2010

And now we have arrived in Florence! After a long travel day with a stop in Pisa we were glad to get off the train in Florence. We had a great time here, and we both loved the city. It's very clean, the architecture was beautiful, and the city was great for just walking around. It's just a very beautiful city. In high season, the number of tourists actually outnumber the residents! Florence is known for its gelato--there were gelaterias practically every second store!

And first up in Florence...teeny busses! Aren't they ridiculously cute?! They're almost pointless! We think the Oompa Loompas live in Florence!

Here is a shot of the famous Duomo in Florence.

And yet another one!

A third can't hurt, right?

Here's the bell tower which is attached to the cathedral.

View numero due of the bell tower!

The inside of the cathedral.

And here's the baptistery which is right in front of the cathedral.

A very cool door on the baptistery with gold relief sculpture panels.

There was a Ferrari store in Florence! Here is real Ferrari F1 race car on display inside the store! We went in with intentions to buy a car or two, but they didn't have the colours we sad!

Stefan in some piazza!

A huge arch thing in one of the piazzas!

Street shot! You can see the same arch in this photo.

A piazza. It's hard to remember all the names of the piazzas because there are so many of them!

Here's Piazza della Signoria, which houses the Palazzo Vecchio, the town hall of Florence. It also shares an edge with the Uffizi Gallery, one of the most famous picture galleries in the world.

Here on the left is the Palazzo Vecchio, and on the right (with the three arches) is one end of the Uffizi.

The Fountain of Neptune in the Piazza della Signoria.

A replica of the statue of David! The real one is the Accademia di Belle Arti  (the Academy of Fine Arts), but we didn't bother paying to see it.

Yet another shot of this piazza!

Also in this piazza...some statue of a dude on a horse!

The weekend we were in Florence also happened to be the Florence Festival of Gelato. Here some cool Italian dudes are showing us how they make gelato!  It was pretty neat to see them make it the old fashion way in wooden barrels.

You know what's better than freshly made gelato? Freshly made FREE gelato!! This was a cream flavoured gelato...and it was delicious!

The Ponte Vecchio is unique in how its shops are built right out over the bridge's edges. You can see the stilts supporting the buildings in the photo! The shops were almost all jewellery stores.

Down the street on one side of the Ponte Vecchio. Check out all the scooters!

A view of the beautiful, clean water from the middle of the bridge. Hope the guy in the gondola doesn't fall in (hint: he's in the bottom right corner!).

Mmmm yoghurt (says Cliff, not Stefan)!! In Italy they had a lot of flavours not found at home in Toronto. Here is one such flavour: pistachio! Others included hazelnut, coconut, malt, lemon and mint, pineapple, kiwi...the list goes on!

At home, you can usually find orange flavoured chocolate, but in Florence we found white chocolate with citrus peel! It had actual pieces of orange and lemon peel in the chocolate...and it was effing delicious!!

Mmmm...peanut butter!!! Also on the left, faux Nutella...but with a twist! In Italy you could sometimes find jars of half Nutella and half "white cream". Very yummy!

We can't remember what this building was. We think we actually just walked into some random building and thought the interior was beautiful!

Random piazza shot!

Another random piazza shot, this time with a random church in it!

A view of the Ponte Vecchio from the East.

A view across the river...

Love Locks! We had seen some stores selling locks before this, and wondered why. Then we came upon these chains!

Stefan next to another Fiat! How cute!! These cars are so tiny it looks like even Stefan would have a hard time fitting in them!

Pisa, Italy: May 28 2010

On our way from Rome to Florence, we made a detour to Pisa. We lugged our packs around the whole time! We got off the train, walked (and got lost) to the tower, and then got back on the train to Florence! We had heard from a few different people that Pisa was only worth visiting for a few hours and not to stay the night, so that's what we did. And it turns out they were very very right! To put it bluntly, besides the tower, baptistery and the cathedral, Pisa was disappointingly a bit of a dump!

Here is the piazza right outside the Pisa Centrale train station. Off we go (to get lost on the way) to the tower!

"Random Keith Haring painting on a wall" alert! Cool! It was in a sort of out-of-the-way street in an unremarkable area of town, so we thought it was just sort of weird...

On one of the bridges across the water on the way to the tower (this was after we had gotten lost and took the scenic route).

And finally...the tower of Pisa! Look! It's not leaning!

Oh it is.

And now...Cliff sitting by a fountain! You can find a lot of these fountains all over Rome and here in Pisa. You can drink from them...very convenient! We had lunch by this fountain, facing the tower, the baptistery and the cathedral. At a restaurant just where that yellow building is, Stefan bought a really gross "chicken" sandwich. What we thought was a breaded chicken patty was actually more like a breaded processed chicken meat slice! Yeach!!

Here is the cathedral (for which the leaning tower is the bell tower), and in the back is the baptistery. The tower is just to the right outside of the picture. When you walk into this area out of gross "regular" Pisa it's very jarring because this piazza is very different from the rest of the city. It's spacious, clean, and not at all grungy like the rest of town. It's almost like you've walked into a scale model or something!

The back of the cathedral!

It would be unfair to show you all the back but not the front...

3/4 shot! You can actually see the tower to the right of the cathedral in this photo. It looks like it's attached but it's actually separate!

A view from in front of the cathedral to the rest of the city. The strip of buildings that line the piazza which you see here were quite nice. Once you go beyond this row of buildings, that's where the dirtiness begins!

Another corner of the piazza.

Here is the baptistery. Behind it you see the cathedral, and behind that you see the tower.

Cliff is trying to fix the lean with his one finger.

And here's Stefan trying to push it over! Like the colosseum, this was the last photo taken of the tower before it was flung into outer space. It can now be found stuck in Pluto.

Leaving the piazza and traveling back to the train station.

Having our packs on us the whole time was definitely not fun!! Look at poor Stefan about to keel over!