After a looooong day of traveling yesterday, Ann and I finally arrived in Florence! It was beautiful arriving at night; the air was cool, every where we looked there were happy people strolling with bright varieties of gelato, and the piazza surrounding the famous duomo and baptistry was calm with pigeons and lovers sitting on its steps. Luckily, our hostel (which is amazing) is only steps away from the duomo. So, we dropped off our bags and then went for a night stroll around the city.
Today we've done so much, I don't even know where to begin. Basically, in one day, we've walked around the entire city and seen so many structures and statues that I've read about in books or learned about in class.
I also learned that I am claustrophobic; this discovery was made while hiking the 463 steps to the top of the duomo in a spiral staircase about the width of my body. It took about thirty grueling minutes to arrive at the top, my knees wobbling and my heart pounding. It's okay though because we had entertainment...someone around the bend in the staircase sang "stairway to heaven" as we ascended the steps to what might as well be heaven. It was a spectacular view.
I don't want to hog this public computer in our hostel, so I will quickly review the rest of the day. We visited Santa Croce (where Michelangelo, Donatello, Ghiberti, and others are buried), Ponte Vecchio (built in the 11th century...the only bridge in Florence not destroyed in WWII), Piazza San Lorenzo, which hosts a huge leather market and a cathedral, the train station (to reserve our tickets to Siena (tomorrow's day trip) and Rome (on Thursday), and walked, walked, walked, walked, walked.
Tonight we will be eating at a restaurant that has been highly recommended by many of our friends. It is called Coquinarius, and its specialties are pear ravioli and a steak with blueberry sauce. It sounds interesting and unique, and I've been told its the best meal I will ever have.
We've done so much, but what remains the most impressionable sight in Florence is the duomo. It is the biggest structure I have ever seen. Ever. And knowing that it was built in the 15th century blows my mind. For those of you who have been to Paris, the duomo here is, if I had to estimate, three times the size of Notre Dame. It's incredible.
I miss every one so much but I am definitely a very lucky girl to be able to go on this trip to Italy. It is really amazing. I hope to hear from all of you soon. Ciao!