So one more thing about Rome even though the last post was supposed to be the last Rome post. On Sunday, we went to Villa Borghese and had ourselves a little nap in the shade. Villa Borghese is a gigantic park in the Northwestern part of Rome that houses the Borghese Gallery, one of Rome’s finest art galleries. Unfortunately, we were unable to get tickets to go inside, but hey, that’s life. You can see the picture of us there above.
Monday morning we made it to Florence. The Eurostar was the nicest train either of us has ever been on. It was smooth, quiet, and fast; exactly what regular trains are not. As soon as we got to the station in Florence, we could tell that our time here was going to be much more relaxing than Rome. People were nicer and there were less of them, and the station wasn’t littered with graffiti and garbage. Cute Italian couples with scarves and flat caps were strolling through the station like it was Central Park on a Sunday afternoon. We jumped on a bus straight from the station, and when the bus stopped directly in front of our camping village, we couldn’t believe our eyes! We had the best viewpoint in Florence - our campsite! The view in front of our site is truly astounding. We can see Florence’s famous Duomo from our laundry area and the whole city is spread out before us while we camp under 800 year old olive trees with budding green olives. Tour buses come up our hill every day by the hundreds to let their thousands of tourists take their single picture of Florence from our Piazza. This morning there were 9 buses at one time and they were blocking the road. We feel like we lucked out on the view.
Florence is home to Michelangelo’s grave. He is buried in the large church facing the gigantic dome. Apparently he chose his position himself so on resurrection day the first thing he would see when he popped out of his grave would be the Duomo, the world’s largest dome at the time of his death. Florence is also home to Ponte Vecchio, one of only 3 bridges in the world with shops on built onto it. Yesterday, we went to the Uffizzi Gallery with some of Leonardo da Vinci’s work and Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” painting. The amount of art in there was staggering, but truly inspiring. It was fascinating to see the numerous different interpretations of biblical scenes commissioned by the Catholic Church and done by the different Renaissance artists. Just about every artist you have ever heard of had at least one piece of work on display. We climbed the bell tower of the Duomo church here. The architect, Giotto, died before it was finished and after his death, the first thing the new architects did was double the thickness of the walls to prevent it from toppling – Giotto, as talented as he was at art, was no architect.
The churches in Florence are all covered with Tuscan Marble in green, white and red. They are certainly unique among the old European churches we have visited. It is quite something to behold. Tomorrow we are going to see the Galleria dell’Academia which houses Michelangelo’s famous David statue. We are very excited for that.
In one of the market piazzas here there is a bronze pig – the porcellino – that you rub for the good fortune to be able to come back to Florence. If we ever come back to Italy, it’s Florence, not Rome, that we will be returning to.