Thursday, June 25, 2015

Florence Day 2: MY BEST PURCHASE EVER! Plus, Duomo, appertivos, and David's stunt-double.

We climbed the Duomo today. Check out this action shot of Tanya racing up these 463 steps (an easy feat for me and Doug - we've had practice). 

She's moving so fast I couldn't capture a good picture. 

The staircase was super narrow, really short (Greg hit his head twice), crowded, and, even at 9AM, starting to get a little steamy. We were glad we decided to go in the morning, and, glad we had the Firenze pass again. Our line had exactly zero people in it. The non-Firenze line was wrapping around the building already (the cathedral had only been open 30 minutes, and just to climb to the top - the actual church was not open until 10AM... have I mentioned that Rick Steves is a gangster?). 

Waiting to climb up behind a line of visitors. 
When you get to the top of the first "flight", you're at a viewing area that wraps around the lower level deck of the cathedral, where you get views of a really scary and violent scene of hell. (Seriously, google it - we were all creeped out). 

Waiting on the wraparound. Claustrophobics should not attempt. 

Not a good cell phone pic, but we were pretty close to the top inside. 
The real payoff was climbing all the way to the top and getting a view of Florence from above. Spectacular. 

The Gates of Paradise are accross the street from the Duomo.

Afterwards, we met up and grabbed some gelato (shocking) from Grom's, which was excellent. I had decided to try the vanilla (because I love vanilla and planned to come back again), but as soon as I did, the man helping me LITERALLY rolled his eyes and said (in a thick Italian accent), vaneelllaa? OoohhhhhKkkkaaayyyyy. I got checked. I expect more from me, and so did this stranger/gelato scooper. Ok, I said, give me the BEST. Which he did - the creme de Grom (egg cream with corn biscuits columbian "tenuya" chocolate chips) and a vanilla honey hazelnut contraption. It was the best gelato I've had so far. I even went back in to thank him for my near-epic failure of ordering vanilla. I must have been delusional. We got a few feet away from the shop when he came running out (mind you this place was pretty busy) and told me to come back - try the espresso ice cream with the vanilla honey hazelnut contraption next time, as it was his favorite combintation (spoiler alert: the next day I came back and got it. He was right - again).

OK enough of the gelato.

We decided to go stroll around Florence a bit. We walked down one of the main drags - via dei Calzaiuoli - and walked around the Piazza Republica and the Piazza della Signoria/Plazza Vechio, which was really neat. Palazzo Vecchio had a bunch of replica statues - including Michalelangelo's David (been there, done that! Ha). Our Firenze pass gets us in to all museums for free, so on a whim, Tanya, Doug, Logan and I decided to check out Vechio Museum. The museum had a bit of art, and was more about the display of the building and showing how the rooms might have looked when people lived in them back in the day.

For some stupid reason, we decided to climb up to the top of the bell tower. Yes, about an hour after climbing the Duomo we climbed the 416 steps of the Tower of Palazzo Vecchio. Technically we climbed more steps than the Eiffel Tower - but not conseutively. You be the judge on which was harder :)

Right as Logan and I got to the top the bells rang, which was pretty cool.

View from the top. We had climbed that big dome on the right like 45 minues before this picture was taken. 

Looking down from a level near the top. Logan was willing to put 1 toe in the picture :)

We headed to lunch, but not before I finally decided to buy a selfie stick.

Of course, my very first selfie stick picture had to be with the the man who sold me a selfie stick, holding his selfies sticks.

I looked at the pictures and immediatly told him that he fucked the whole picture up by not smiling - we needed a retake. Of course, the retake also sucked as well becuase I wasn't in it, and his smile wasn't genuine enough for me. 

On our third try, he finally gave me a great smile, but (purposely? accidentally?) placed the selfie sticks right in front of my face. I decided I probably wasn't going to get any better pictures from this dude (either because he was sick of me or was, ironically, bad at taking selfies with selfie sticks) so I left it at this. 

After spending the next 3 hours practicing my selfies, we headed home for another espresso (courtesy Logan) on our Florentine patio. 

We decided to experience another one of Elenora's recomendations by going out for appertivo's. Essentially, you order one drink, and you get access to an unlimited food at a small buffet at the bar. Appertivos are usually from about 7ish to 9ish. 

After atttempting to use the local bus system and going on two wrong buses, going back to the train station twice, and circling back by our apartment, a mere HOUR later we were headed to the place that we could have walked to in 20 minutes.*

We went to Il Rifrullo, which was just below Piazalle Michaelangelo.  We all ordered our one drink (for around ten Euro) and went downstairs to the buffet. 

A few thoughts. First, this is another Italian tradition that would never, ever work in America. Buy one drink and get access to an all you can eat buffet? There would be a stampede out front. Second, I'm not quite sure what I was expecting from a free buffet, but this food was mediocre, at best.

However, the drinks were fantastic, and I got some really cute shots of Greg and Kendra.

I was totally jealous so we tried to recreate the shot. I suppose ours was EVEN CUTER because we were photobombed by Logan. 

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Our original plan was to head up to the Piazzale after our appertivos to watch the sunset from the steps, but because it took so god damn long to get to the restaurant because of the bus fiasco we kind of had to rush out and run up.... a HUGE incline and another several flights of stairs. We got there later than I wanted to, but, it was sort of cloudy so I'm not sure how much better it would have been. It was still a great view, I've seen plenty of beautiful sunsets in my life, and we got some cool shots. 

After the sun had really gone down, we headed over to (yet another) replica of David's Michaelangelo - this one is in bronze and was built to scale. I decided to do my best Michaelangelo pose. 

Fake David. Real Becky.

*In retrospect, this was a good experience for us. We'd been discussing how surprised we were that everyone knew English, and at the abundance of English signs throughout the Italian cities. What I now know is that these two facts are exclusive to Italian TOURIST areas. I spoke to three (truly, very nice, sincere, helpful people) on the bus who knew not one single word of English. At the bus stop on the outskirts of town, there were no English times. So while the bus ride was frustrating, it was a good reminder that we're in areas of Italy that cater to tourists. Good to keep in mind when making any judgement calls about any "authentic" or "inauthentic" experiences we percieve to be having. 

I'm also happy to say that we made it home, on the bus, in fifteen minutes with no problems. We were probably mistaken for locals, we took the bus that good ;)

Ok, Ciao!


  1. Doug looks like he is channeling his inner selfie stick seller guy in the 2nd photo. Funny!

  2. Thanks Becky for capturing so many excellent shots of my backside in this and previous posts.

    1. I do what I can. With the selfie stick I'll be able to get more shots of your face now :)

  3. So glad to see all those beautiful photos of the city from the rooftops. Now I don't have to go up all those stairs myself when I go...

    1. Hahaha. That's what we're here for, doing all the hard leg work! :)