Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Last Two Days in Firenze

My fourth day in Florence wasn't my best. I'd been constantly on the go for a week and had not slept well for three nights. I woke up with a headache and was exhausted. Nevertheless I didn't want to waste my vacation time.

That morning we went to the Galleria dell'Academia - another great museum that didn't allow photos. The highlight was Michelangelo's David, but I was also enamored with Michelangelo's Prisoners (I wasn't able to find a link with good pictures). The Prisoners were pretty amazing. Michelangelo felt that the images he carved were just waiting to be released from the marble. The Prisoners are unfinished and you can really imagine these bodies trying to free themselves from the stone.

The Galleria dell'Academia recently opened a couple of new sections dedicated to musical instruments. The first section showcased several antique pieces including one of the first upright pianos. The second section displayed the most ornately decorated musical instruments I've ever seen including a marble harpsichord, marble guitar, intricately carved wooden instruments, and others made out of ebony and ivory. Beautiful!

By the time we finished exploring the Galleria dell'Academia my exhaustion was catching up with me. I grabbed some lunch with my family (another McDonalds feast) and headed back to the hotel with Grandma for a rest. I felt a bit better after a nap so Grandma and I went back to the outdoor market to do a bit of shopping. She bought me a beautiful scarf as a late birthday present (I've already used it once since the weather has turned cold here in Sicily!) and I bought a few other things for myself and for early Christmas presents.

We met back up with my mom and aunties at the hotel around 7 in the evening. They were exhausted from walking all afternoon. We decided to go back to Trattoria Tito again for dinner and even though they were extremely busy they recognized us from the night before and squeezed us in. The service and food were so good! Another great evening.

I slept a bit better that night, probably because I was so exhausted. The next morning my aunties took off for a day trip to Cinque Terre. I decided not to go because I would like to spend more time in that area and not be rushed. Plus, it was my last day to spend with my mom so I stayed in Florence. Unfortunately my mom didn't feel well when she woke up. She ended up staying in the hotel most of the day. Even though I wish we would have had more time together at least I got to spend a lot of quality time with Grandma.

In the afternoon mom tried to perk up a bit and went for a walk with Grandma & I. As we were heading toward the city center we noticed a store that had displays of mushrooms, more of an exhibition, they didn't appear to be on sale. I've never seen so many types of mushrooms!

I don't think this one should be eaten...

A Neat-looking Mushroom

As we wandered along we came back to the Duomo. In addition to the crowds of people the street merchants selling knock-off purses, scarves, and all sorts of things were lined up in front of the church. I was a bit disturbed and was reminded of the story in the Bible where Jesus cleared the merchants out of the Temple (John 2:12-25)

Merchants in front of the Duomo

We continued exploring without any particular destination. We wandered up and down streets, in and out of shops, and enjoyed people-watching.

"Gone Tanning"

Picture of the Ponte Vecchio on a carousel in Piazza dell Republica

Tower in Piazza della Signoria

Lovers' Locks on the Ponte Vecchio
Lovers come to the bridge, put a lock on the bridge and throw the key into the Arno River as a sign of their undying love.

Musicians on the Ponte Vecchio

After walking for a bit my mom decided that she wanted to go back to the hotel, she wasn't feeling as good as she thought she was when she left the hotel. Grandma and I continued exploring.

A local artist at work

The Ponte Vecchio at sunset

Another evening shot of the Ponte Vecchio

Grandma and I wandered into Piazza Santa Croce and discovered an artists' market full of artists selling their unique pieces, anything from paintings, glass work, jewelry, bronze work, and painted silk.

An artist working with bronze

A piece of painted silk in progress

It started to get dark and Grandma and I decided to find an early dinner. I had been hoping to eat Chinese food (a luxury I don't often get) at some point on this trip so Grandma indulged me and we had a delicious dinner. We took our leftovers back to the hotel for my mom, hoping she'd be able to eat a bit. Luckily the Chicken Fried Rice tasted good to her. I spent the rest of the evening packing up my suitcase and getting ready go home.

It was really hard to leave my family. They were continuing on to Switzerland and I had to go home. I was ready to sleep in my own bed but didn't want to say goodbye to my mom, grandma, and aunties. I kept myself together and was ok until I got to the airport and was all checked in. Then it hit me...its gonna be awhile until I see them again. It took all of my control not to break down crying in the airport. I had such a great time and I really feel like I was blessed to be able to share so many great experiences with those that I love.

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