Spring Break – Florence (Part I)

With time already ticking, my friends and I spent the hours after our morning excursion in Pisa back in Florence to visit some of the local sights.  For 15€, the only option for entrance to any of the monuments, we got Il Grande Museo del Duomo tickets with access to the Cathedral, the Dome, the Bapistry, the Bell Tower, the Crypt, and the museum.  Even though we had the opportunity to see all of the attractions, we didn’t have the time or desire to, and it bothered me that they did not offer individual sight tickets, or a discounted rate for students, like many other locations.  Nonetheless, we made our purchases and waited in line to begin our ascent to the top of the Duomo.

 

“I’m not going to be mentally stable up there so no one talk to me.  When I point to myself, take a picture. “

From hugging the wall on tight overhangs, to squeezing along dark, narrow corridors, to climbing and descending vertical staircases, I am shocked that this experience does not come with a physical and mental health warning!  Many are prepared for the hundreds of steps required to travel to get to the top of the Duomo (463 steps, exactly), but the claustrophobic conditions that the process generates are often unforeseen.  Though I didn’t enjoy invading peoples’ personal space, I embraced the journey and marveled at the age and architecture of the structure that I’d soon be on top of.

The feeling of standing atop the Duomo looking out across Florence isn’t something I can easily articulate.  With unstable legs, both from the climb and from the impressive height at which we stood, my friends and I were quiet, taking in the view.  We then walked the entirety of the Duomo’s deck, and I left with an understanding that this experience was definitely worth paying for.

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We continued on with our ticket to climb the Bell Tower, with less impressive views, but a view of the Duomo, and to visit the Baptistry, with a beautiful ceiling, but an overall underwhelming presence compared to what we had already seen.

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Ready for a hearty meal after a long day, my friends and I went to Ristorante Perseus, a restaurant recommended to us by our hotel receptionist for the region’s specialty, steak Florentine.  As a medium-well kind of girl, I was nervous to try the rare meat,  but when in Florence…

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Steak Florentine

The meat, carved in front of us, wasn’t cooked how I would have preferred, but it was still a tasty steak and a must-try when in Florence.  In addition to the main course, we got grilled vegetables to share, but they were portioned too small for their price.  The restaurant was pleasant, but slightly strange, with a wait staff of middle-aged men and an unidentifiable customer crowd.

After our long day, I could not wait to take a warm shower and unwind.  Just a few minutes into the few moments to myself, though, the lights went out.  I thought perhaps they were on some sort of a timer, so I shouted to my friends, who responded that the power was out in our room, the hallway, and the entire floor.  Though this problem was quickly, yet ambiguously resolved, others with the hotel, Veneto Residence Florence, were not.  Connection to wifi had been weak since the moment we arrived, so I was often unable to contact my friends and family.  Similarly, after the first toilet flush, it would not stop running.  When we brought up the noisy issue to the morning receptionist, she claimed that it was a city-wide occurrence and would be fixed within hours.  We later learned from our familiar, front desk friend that these concerns were unrelated.  The only good thing about the hotel was the friendly evening receptionist, who answered all of our questions, gave us thorough advice about visiting Florence, and always asked us about our stay was.  I strongly recommend avoiding the Veneto Residence Florence, but I do suggest visiting the check-in desk around 6 pm for an amiable chat with a Florentine who knows what he’s talking about.

 

Destination Locations

 

Pace, Amore, Firenze

A.J.H.

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