Wednesday, June 25, 2014

April 7, 2014–Florence! The first full day.

Today’s Travelpod was written by both Doug and I. The Travelpod words are in italics. The new comments are in regular font.

I think we decided to switch off blog duties today, so I'll start it off (doug):
I woke up this morning before the Lizzie to go for a run around Florence. I am happy to be back in an area that is run-friendly. 2014-04-07-07-30-57_IMG_20140407_073057

Riomaggiore is run-friendly enough, it’s just really, really, _really_ steep. Everywhere. I could just suck it up and call it hill training, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t get very far very fast. Plus the main street is the only one big enough to avoid other pedestrians. Those back alleys are too narrow and full of stairs to make much headway running. I just hung up the shoes for that stretch. Monterosso might be the best home base in Cinque Terre for runners: it’s the flattest and the largest. The main point is – I’m back to running again.


The run this morning was beautiful. I ran up and around Duomo, back down to Palazzo Vecchio, across the Ponte Vecchio and around the Palazzo Pitti on the very windy (that’s WINE-DEE, not WIN-DEE), very hilly road that makes its way up to a lookout perch perfect for seeing the entire city of Florence.


I took a few photos from the top, including a few selfies, and ran back down into town, through the Uffizi and back to our apartment. It was nearly 6 miles. I think if I stuck to the road instead of taking the pedestrian shortcuts it would have been 6. I might do the same run tomorrow morning if I don’t have time to map out another one tonight.2014-04-07-07-31-50_IMG_20140407_0731502014-04-07-07-32-25_IMG_20140407_0732242014-04-07-07-42-36_IMG_20140407_0742362014-04-07-07-42-13_IMG_20140407_0742132014-04-07-07-43-03_IMG_20140407_074303

Lizzie here!
After Doug ran 6 miles he came back to the room and showered. I was still fast asleep and it was lovely. I finally got up around 8:15 am and we got ready for a full day in Florence. We were out the door and headed to a café for breakfast. We both got a pastry and headed towards the Duomo Cupola (the main Cathedral’s Dome – you can climb it).

We arrived to find a very, very long line to the right and a priority entrance for Firenze Card holders on the left. We got in line and waited about 15 minutes for them to open the doors.

We made it in the doors to find out you need a ticket, but wait….you have a Firenze card? Yeah, that is what we thought too. So after much confusion we found the unmarked ticket office. (Who has an unmarked ticket office. So terrible Florence…get your act together.) We went in, got tickets and headed back to the line. We stood in the line again (the inefficiency was killing me).

This is why you get a Firenze card. Here is the line with the Firenze card:2014-04-07-01-34-36_IMG_1015

Here is the line without a Firenze card: Can you see it wrapping around the massive church?2014-04-07-01-31-53_IMG_1008

Finally the doors opened and we paraded in with the other tourists. We got about 100 steps up and found little waiting area for people to catch their breath. Then you head up a narrower stairwell and come out inside the dome way above the church.

The view was pretty incredible: (but honestly….I could not enjoy the beauty. I was pretty anxious.)2014-04-07-02-16-26_IMG_1018

There was a lot of stop and go on the narrow stairwells and I was feeling trapped. I had Doug tell me happy stories to distract me. The stories were pretty good – mainly about fluffy puppies. When we got to the inside of the dome, I thought I was on the home stretch. We had made it.

Here is the NARROW bath for you to get around the dome base.


Looking down:2014-04-07-02-17-03_IMG_1020


I was ready to start going down the stairs and get out. When we got to the other side of the dome we found more stairs heading up. Oh no. We forged ahead and I made it two flights to find the narrow stairwell stopped again.

These stairwells were closed in, narrow, dark and scary. We would walk up two stairs and then stop. Then climb two stairs and then stop. I could not keep moving. There was no where to get around anyone.

Then I heard a family above me say we were only half way there and I was ready to abort. I turned to Doug and said I wanted to go back down. He asked if I wanted him to come with me and I said yes. He went back down to the dome with me, but he is so tall and had the backpack – it was hard for him to pass people on the stairs.Once I was in the open dome again, I told him he could finish the climb, but I was evacuating. We had designated a meeting spot and I hauled booty down the stairs. Luckily, there was no one coming up as I descended the narrowest staircase. When I made it around the larger staircases they had just let a new group in to climb the tower. I made it down in less than 3 minutes and was let out of the church by a guard. I wonder how many people freak out and exit via the entrance. I know one did today.

I waited for Doug and paced around getting my steps. A little while later he came down and told me about his adventures.  Evidently, if I had made it up 20 more steps, I would have found an exit, but it was no big deal as I was down in 3 minutes. Doug had climbed all the way to the top of the dome and had a great view of Florence.

(doug again)
Seriously, after Lizzie’s unexpected departure from the Cupola, I made it back to where we turned around and went up about 20 more stairs around the corner and found the real exit. You continue all the way to the top of the dome and come back to this location to hit the second story balcony inside the dome and exit from there. Had we only known (or if I had come armed with cat videos already downloaded on my phone instead of the poorly constructed fluffy puppy and kitty story I made up on the spot), we would not have had to squeeze past the other tourists on their way up.

Those spiral staircases were really only designed for people to go one way at a time. Or to have a sword fight where right handed people are at a disadvantage coming from the ground level (seriously, that’s why they turn counter clockwise as they go up – to give the defenders the advantage).

I pressed on in the confined space, admiring the amount of work it must have taken on construct the dome. I can appreciate art much more when it meets math and science.

I made it all the way to the top and took a few photos for Lizzie to admire from the wide open spaces below.

The top of Florence!


I looked for her from the top and would have taken a photo, but I think she was too close to the building to see. And in her haste to depart, neither of us thought to make sure she had a cell phone… or when we did, Lizzie was already 3 stories down the stairs. At any rate, I got some photos. And headed back down behind the slowest tourists EVER.  I paused at several places on the way back down to give them more time, but I think that only encouraged them.

I have no idea what this is as Doug took this in the top of the dome. It looks cool though! 2014-04-07-02-43-28_IMG_1040

Climbing down the dome…see how it is curved down…2014-04-07-02-44-19_IMG_1041

More things Lizzie did not see…2014-04-07-02-47-01_IMG_10472014-04-07-02-59-26_IMG_1064

The dome is beautiful, and if you get the chance, you should climb it. I definitely recommend using a Firenze card to cut the huge line, unless that’s the only thing you’re going to do in Florence. It’s only 10 euro to get in there and all the other Duomo sites.

Also note: Lizzie wasn’t the only one headed back down when she did. An older couple followed her down because they didn’t realize what they were signing up for and couldn’t handle the climb. It was really nothing after the hike in Cinque Terre, just a more confined space. With the run up the hill on the other side of the Arno River, I had around 40 floors on the fitbit – after Duomo, I’ve only got about 80. 40 stories, that’s all ;)(Lizzie again) Once we met up again, we headed to the Baptistery of Saint John, but the line was really long. We decided to listen to Rick Steve’s Renaissance Walking tour on my iPod. We viewed the famous doors on the Baptistery,


saw the Bell Tower (but did not climb it after that previous fiasco),


got to see where the David used to stand before they moved him to the Acadamia 2014-04-07-04-19-21_IMG_1088

and took a tour of the Palazzo Vecchio. 2014-04-07-04-19-24_IMG_10892014-04-07-04-23-00_IMG_10932014-04-07-12-58-00_IMG_1548

A most fabulous ceiling:


Then we headed to (more like through) the Uffizi Piazza and across the famous bridge Ponte Vecchio.2014-04-07-05-16-49_IMG_10972014-04-07-05-19-10_IMG_1100

After all that sightseeing, we were starving. HANGRY Piranha Lizzie!


We found a great little lunch spot and then of course, gelato!


Then we did a little shopping. We decided each year on our anniversary we would purchase a different set of silverware/flatware. We found a silver store and purchased two different 6 piece sets. Now we are caught up on our first and second anniversary.

Here are the sets…I picked out the ones on the left and Doug picked out the ones on the right….IMG_2499

I found a paper store and purchased a new wax seal that has an "L" and a “D” woven together, some wax and other fun items.

Then we headed back to the room to freshen up for dinner. We headed back out and found the Domo Museum where the famous bronze “Gates of Paradise” 2014-04-07-10-56-09_IMG_11382014-04-07-10-52-44_IMG_11292014-04-07-10-55-32_IMG_1135

and a late Michelangelo Pieta. We quickly viewed the two famous items and headed to dinner at La Cucina del Garga, recommended by Craig G. Boy, was he right. It was delicious – the pasta, the steak, the appetizers. Great recommendation Craig!

We ate well and then headed for gelato (duh.)



Doug got two scoops and I got a Nutella crepe.


We headed back to the room and Doug passed out. I guess he was tired from his run.

Now I am heading to bed too.
Love and Hugs, Lizzie

(doug again) Si, I passed out, but not too long. While I write this, Lizzie is also starting to fade. We’re both pretty tired, so we’ll likely opt to pick and post the photos tomorrow. We’ll have another day here in Florence, then we’re on to our house near Pienza in the Tuscan hills. It’ll be our home base as we go to explore the other hill towns in Tuscany. I’ve already sampled the Chianti and the Brunello in Florence – we may have to put together another shipment to meet us at home during our stay.


Lizzie Fibit: 19,378
Doug Fitbit: 26,118

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