The airplanes at the Zurich airport looked cool in the sunset.

I arrived in Florence Wednesday evening, and after an hour and a half of trying to figure out which bus to take to the outskirts of town, I finally got to my youth hostel and sorted out keys etc. I was ready to flop into bed when the American girl sharing my room showed up and talked with me for an hour or two, and then it was finally bedtime.

The next morning dawned bright and clear, and warm enough to go outside without a jacket, even early in the morning. Riding the bus, I soon noticed that the Italians seemed to feel otherwise, since most of them were wearing winter coats…

This was seriously where I slept for $20/night + free breakfast and wifi.

I love the combination of old Italian houses with their native trees. I don’t know what they are – some of the trees look like yew or something. Anyway, I got off the bus and walked up the river to the Uffizi gallery, taking some photos along the way.

This doesn't capture the dust motes floating in the sunbeam, but it was very pretty.

The Uffizi bore the expected resemblance to Professor Amy’s “Survey of Western Art” class. I saw Boticelli’s “Birth of Venus” as well as “Spring.” Then there was “Venus of Urbino” and “Madonna of the Long Neck”. Good stuff. I even snuck a picture of the “Venus of Urbino,” since that’s apparently such an influential work.

Super famous painting I wasn't supposed to be taking a picture of.

There were lots and lots of naked people.

The thing that bothers me about the Renaissance is that all the boobs are wrong. Some of the artists were better about this (I’m sure that Raphael’s womanizing helped him out there) than others (Michelangleo I think is pretty bad about making them all look like muscular men with hemispheres glued to their chests). Along with the ban on autopsies, I think “no using real female models” was a bad idea for the advancement of art. Thank goodness for the Romantic painters and their whores, right?

Dance party flash mob at the Uffizi!

Sadly I was apparently a few months too early to see the exhibit on the Caravaggeschis. I was a bit disappointed at the small collection they did have – I really like the dark candlelit style of Caravaggio and his followers. They were famous for their dramatic directed lighting.

River Arno from the Uffizi

So after the art museum, and some pizza in a little shop, it was time for more adventures. I had a good explore up some steps by the river, and after taking some arbitrary streets, I eventually got to the top of the hill, which turned out to be the Palazzo Pitti and its gardens. I sat outside the fortress and ate chocolate and enjoyed the warm sun in relative privacy, while some woman tried to feed the two cats who were wandering around at the bottom of the slope. Once I’d had enough sun, I wandered back down towards the train station and checked out the cool bridge with all the houses along the way.

I think that girl in the background was trying to lean out of the way...

I made the mistake of wandering through the bazaar area of town where dozens of little stalls tried to attract my attention to sell me everything from souvenir trinkets to knives to purses. The error in my decision became apparent when one of the salesmen accosted me started hitting on me in a typically Italian kind of way and telling me how he also spoke “Deutschland” and how perfect I looked wearing the leather jacket he wanted to give me “almost for free!” That was an interesting if pretty awkward experience, and I was glad when I was finally able to flee. He did clue me in on the fact that basically all the stalls in Florence double their prices so they can give “special discounts” to nice pretty people, which gave me the impression that if I knew how to haggle, that would be a great place to practice.

Fiesole town square

At some point I found the bus stop and rode up to Fiesole, which is at the top of one of the big hills surrounding Florence. It’s a very picturesque town, with a great view, and I had fun taking some pictures… which you will get to see when I have a chance to go through my photos and resize them for the blog. Since it’s just 20 minutes and a 1.20€ bus fare, I definitely recommend it as a nice supplement to a day in Florence. There’s an open-air restaurant on the main square looking out over the vista that I really wanted to try, but since I had a little bit of sunstroke/dehydration from being outside all day, I didn’t want to stick around. Once I got to the end of the panorama street I’d been exploring, I turned around and headed back to the hostel to recharge for the next day.

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