When we decided that we wanted to take a stop in Florence, Italy on our way around Italy, we didn't really know what we were going to do there, and a common question was always, "uh, guys? What's in Florence?" and a common response to that question was always, "ummm.... David, I think?" Basically we had no idea what to expect from this very artsy place, besides the fact that we had bought in advance 12:15 tickets to go see David. I'm learning that sometimes the days you have no expectations for turn out to be the most memorable ones.
We woke up slowly and steadily, which I think was much deserved after our adventure on the trains the previous night. We were out and about by 11, found breakfast at a bar, and an egg and cheese pannini and an orange later, we were standing in line for David. Florence is a funny place, because for the most part, the streets are just really narrow and lined with buildings on both sides, and the open spaces are few and far between. I'd always imagined David in some palace, or with a big flashy neon arrow sign pointing people his way, but that is not how it is at all! In fact, if you did't know what you're looking for, you probably could never find the Galleria dell' Accademia just walking down the street because it's so normal looking. Anyways, we found the place, got in line, and in a matter of minutes, we were inside! Walking up to David was one of the most exhilarating experiences ever. We walked in, turned a corner, and BAM. There he was, down the long corridor lined with more Michelangelo statues. Walking up to the 17 ft. marble statue was neat- he's just so big! I couldn't even get over it! Dan and I took some stealthy pics, so don't worry- you can see him, too. From our eavesdropping onto random guided tours, we learned that Michelangelo was only 26 when he sculpted this big guy, and when there was no barrier around the statue, somebody broke off his big toe, and another time someone broke his arm off or something. Pretty hard to tell, beause he looks in tip top condition to me! Seeing David was great- I'm not artsy, but I liked it a lot, probably because it's just one of those things that is better in person than in a textbook.
After David, we just walked around Florence for the rest of the day, we went to Duomo, this huge cathedral in the middle of the city, walked down to the river to get some cool bridge pictures, and just did a lot of shopping. There is sooooooooooooooo much leather here. I've been on the quest for the perfect leather bag our whole time in Italy, and well, given the prices, the quest still continues :/ No matter, seeing that I withdrew a little too much money from the ATM and converting back to USD is a headache, I'm sure I can find something... it's either that or a years worth of chocolate :)Decisions, decisions.
Most of the cheap shopping in Florence is on the streets, and I think that Utah needs to get the memo and get some street vendors,too. They make life so much more interesting. In Florence, we had some great experiences with street vendors, my personal favorite being when a poster guy came up with his goods, showed them to Casey, and then Casey began the haggling process, getting the 15 euro poster down to 3 euros in like 2 seconds. The guy wanted 4, but Casey held strong, and finally the guy folded. However, when Casey gave him the money and wanted change back, the guy just took the extra 4th euro. Maybe you just had to be there, hear the guy talk, and watch Casey walk around the rest of the day with a poster of the Italian countryside he didn't even want, but it was hilarious.
Shopping all day can really make you work up an appetite, so when we were done weaving through the market we began the search for gelato. Some cities you can find the stuff for pretty cheap, but Florence is not one of those places. After looking in many shops and finding high prices all over, we finally settled on one where the display was pretty. We all chose what we wanted started eating, and the lady rung us up at the register. I paid separately, but Brittany owed Casey some money, so they paid together. The lady pointed to me, "4 euros" she said, and then pointing at Brittany, "20 euros". Brittany looked around, at her ice cream, at the lady, at Casey.
20 euros? Each ice cream cone had cost 10 euros? Were they laced with gold?! Were they made with water from the fountain of youth?! "I think I'll pay for my own gelato..." Casey said to Britt, saving her from a whole hostel stay's amount of money. It still makes me laugh to think how ironic it was that we searched and searched for cheap gelato all day, and then Casey and Britt end up buying the most expensive waffle cones in Florence... and then the fact that Brittany's cone basically exploded all over her and she turned into some kind of gelato monster made things even greater. Good thing it was probably the best gelato we ever tasted, or it might have been a bad experience :) You live, you learn, you laugh at your friends when they accidentally buy 10 euro gelato in Florence, Italy.
The rest of the night was spent running around Florence a little more, and then finding a bar to watch USA vs. Ghana play at. Our search for a bar was a great adventure, too. It seems that no one felt like playing the game, and the fact that Dan was wearing an American flag as a cape and we were getting heckled by street vendors straight out of Africa made for some entertainment as well. In the end we found a pretty good bar, though, and the night would have been great if we could have won. Way to go, US.
Well, with that it's time to hop on a train for Rome. Goodbye, Florence.