Our plan for today was to get up early, around 9am or 10am, to grab a train to Florence from Termini Station, however, the running theme for us seems to be completely inept at setting alarms, so we woke up around 11:30am, and were on a train by 12pm.
Jed Don Duch en route to Florence
The hour and a half train ride cost €38, the car was actually really nice, and the trip was mostly comprised of sleeping (directly after that picture was taken). When we rolled into downtown Firenze at 1:30pm, it was raining, but not hard enought to stop and see some things before heading off to find our hostel. First, we stopped at the famous Santa Maria Novella, near the train station, which houses a variety of paintings by Giotto, Lippi, and other early Renaissancers, a crusifix by Brunelleschi (who also did Il Duomo), and it’s most famous piece, a fresco by Massacio done in 1427 called the Trinity and is also the first ever experimental use of perspective (!). I tried to take an illegal picture, but unfortunately it turned out too poorly to post here. Google it.
Piazza della Signoria sculpture gallery
From there we walked in the diretion of the river, our hostel, and a couple other sites. We walked through the Piazza della Signoria which has a sculpture gallery on the south side (above), a pretty sick neptune statue to the north east, and the Palazzo Vecchio to the south east. The sculpture gallery contains two extra famous pieces: Giambologna’s twisting “Rape of the Sabines” and Cellini’s gory “Perseus” below.
Rape of the Sabines
Perseus Slaying Medusa
At this point it was coming down pretty hard, so we decided to hightail it to our hostel to dry off before exploring any more of the city. We walked south through the Uffizi passageway (for a glimpse of what we’d do tomorrow), and east along the river to our apartment for the night at the Riverbank Hostel. Pleasantly surprised, we found the apartment was bigger and nicer than the one we were staying at in Rome, and it was only €13 per night per person. The colors were a little weird though…
Riverbank Hostel room We laughed about the keys they gave us. They were straight out of the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe or Harry Potter. When the owner showed me the biggest one on the lower right, I wanted to be like, "Wow, so we're in Florence, yet we rented a room in Narnia?"Ridiculous room keys
Once the rain had slowed and now that we were dry and refreshed, we ventured out towards the Santa Maria del Fiore, better known as Il Duomo. Truly breathtaking, the Duomo dominates the piazza with the Campanile (bell tower) directly to the south and the Baptistery to the west.
Santa Maria del Fiore aka Il Duomo
The Duomo was closed by the time we got there, and we didn’t feel like going into the Baptistery – the famous bronze doors on its east side – Ghiberti’s “Gate of Paradise” depicting scenes from the Old Testiment – were enough to look at. Apparently, there had been a contest between the major sculptors, artists, architects in Italy for the commission of the doors. In the finals, Ghiberti beat out Brunelleschi (the guy that did the freakin Duomo) and set up a shop enlisting other early Renaissancers, like Donatello, to help out with the project.
Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise
One of the panels close up
We then decided to orient ourselves with the city by going up the Campanile right next to the Duomo for one of Florence’s best views. €6 and about 430 stairs later:
It got tighter than this as it went up...
Not getting near that railing...
Duomo from Campanile
We headed back to find a place to eat, walked around the Ponte Vecchio (it was dark by then, so pictures turned out badly), and made reservations for the Uffizi for 11am tomorrow. We also found a place to go for the night that had a beerpong tournament with the grand prize of a weekend trip to Prague, Berlin, or Amalfi, which neither Don nor Duch found out until after they had won it. Unfortunately, it leaves out of Florence in a couple weeks, and they’d have to pay the airfair there and back; instead, they sold the trip to the girls they beat for €10.