January 13-15, 2016: Firenze con La Famiglia

There are over 1000 pictures in here: https://goo.gl/photos/Xhjfpr9YgK7W5F1P6

While I was taking my exams, Morgan, mom and dad went to Venice for a couple of days. And then I met them at the train station in Florence after I finished my exam. I met mom and Morgan at the platform and we checked into the Airbnb. We had to walk down some very narrow streets that big busses go down, very close to the barely existent sidewalks.

Dad was going to join us later. We sent him down to Rome to meet up with our Airbnb host and pick up my tuxedo. We thankfully finally got in touch with him (the panic is finally over). I kind of felt bad sending a cripple to Rome by himself but he insisted. Because since he can’t walk, he would be less capable of walking around Florence with us and all he had to do was meet the guy at the train station. My argument was that since I’ve been to Florence before, I could go to Rome and he could explore Florence. But I lost.

The Duomo in Florence is very impressive. It is special in that it is finished (the Medici family had money), unlike many other churches in Italy. The marble alternates colors. Morgan and I climbed the dome designed by Brunelleschi. The stairs have tons of graffiti and I felt a little claustrophobic. I think it was something like 400 stairs. You get to see the Brunelleschi fresco up close. And then you climb up to the top to get outside. It was raining and snowing a little bit, but you get this amazing panoramic view of the city. We took quite a long time up there. We walked down as the next batch of people was coming up. That wasn’t so smart because it’s a very narrow single staircase. Usually the line at the Duomo goes on for hours, but off-season we had no problems. The next day, Morgan and I climbed up Giotto’s tower too. I guess it was kind of silly in that it was the exact same view as the dome except you see the dome from the tower and you see the tower from the dome.

We went into the crypt right before it closed. It looks fake because the mosaics are so well preserved. You walk right through them and the stone cutouts. The museum at the Duomo is very cool too. It is very well designed around a big central room. From the other rooms on the upper floors, you see out windows down into the center. The glass is so clean, you can’t even tell that there’s glass there. You get a nice view of the dome from the museum. And there was an informative movie about the dome. They have several Donatellos and a late Pieta by Michelangelo. It is a much more personal Pieta than the famous one at the Vatican, imperfect and incomplete. They also had a cool exhibit on ancient medieval music. You can just barely make out a staff. It’s really interesting seeing how written music has evolved.

Morgan and I had profiteroles and a pistachio cannolo at a fancy bakery. I love pistachio cream but the flavor was overpowering. And the chocolate was really heavy on the profiteroles. I broke my spoon and then couldn’t find the plastic piece. We did enjoy our snack though. It made us late picking up dad at the train station. He got my tuxedo back! There was lots of stressing over it. Mom felt really bad. It was a lot more stressful than this blog makes it out to be. It really can’t be described in words.

For dinner, we went into a restaurant a little off the piazza of the Duomo. My question is where did all the tourists go? The city was almost empty. The restaurants were empty. There were tourists before and they must be eating somewhere, but where? Dad and I ordered a Florentine steak for 2. It was 1.2 kilos of T-bone steak. It was monstrous. Normally, I don’t order steak because I don’t really like to eat steak—this was unusual for me but Florence is known for steak. This was the best steak I’ve ever had. The beef was so well seasoned. The cows in Tuscany are so good. It cost around 50 euros. The price on the menu is per unit of measurement, so you’re not really sure what the total will be because it depends on the size of the steak. Luckily, 50 was still reasonable, especially for how good this steak was.

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Morgan devouring the bone

We watched the sun set from the piazza atop the hill on the other side of the river. You cross the Ponte Vecchio to get to the other side and then hike up a big hill. Dad had a little difficulty with that, but it was worth it for the incredible view of the city with the beautiful colors of the sky.

One of the places I wanted to hit was the Palazzo Vecchio, because I saw Tom Hanks go there in the movie Inferno. Going back to Florence, it was kind of neat seeing and recognizing the places from the movie. It wasn’t a great movie, but it was an excellent tourism advertisement for Italy. I should’ve made mom and dad watch it before coming too.

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I think one of the things I most missed doing with my family was nothing, just chilling and watching TV/movies. We had all missed the Golden Globe awards. And as you know, I love award shows. So we had a grand old time back at the Airbnb.

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