Monday, July 07, 2008

The gelato of Venize and the heights of Firenze

Venice was, I think, the most fun part of the trip so far, which is saying a lot, because we've got to see a lot of incredible things everywhere. We got in Friday afternoon, spent all of Saturday there, and took the train to Florence yesterday.

My enduring memories of Venice will be
  • gelato, gelato everywhere. Every other shop is either that or carnivale masks.
  • succesfully meeting up with Jacob and Jaime Lewis in San Marcos' square. It made me beyond happy. They were catching the train out in the afternoon, but we still got to tour a church together and have lunch.
  • staying in an actual hotel with a nice private bathroom for once. Such a respite.
  • the place has churches everywhere. Like you can't believe.
  • the old married couple arguing about getting the bus ticket machine to work, as we were trying to get from nearby Mestre (our hotel location) to the city of Venice itself.
  • getting lost in town at dusk with John and Camille, because Ken and Megan had the maps. Doh! Venice can be an absolute maze.
  • and last, but most important, the canals themselves. Which have to be seen from the water.
There's even more, but I'll leave others to tell those tales.

Now to Florence. Never go to Florence on a Monday. The Effizi, the Academia (Michelangelo's David) AND Boboli Gardens are closed. We'll try to see at least the Effizi tomorrow before we leave for Rome. But at least today's transportation strike won't affect us.

And we did get to see the Medici Palace, which is still the working location for the Provincial Council. The palace contains some pretty cool tapestries in the working areas and council chambers (which were empty and open for viewing), and a completely frescoed chapel (which we, sadly, could not photograph). We also climbed the Duomo, which provides an amazing view of the whole town. There's also an incredible statuary alley that's been there for a few hundred years. It contains an exact replica of the David, I think because that's where the actual David originally stood, but is subject to the elements.

We've climbed several towers/domes, etc during this trip, and most are all the same regardless of country -- these cramped narrow little stone corridors with short ceilings originally intended for maintenance and construction. And so many people press through that the steps themselves sink in from the erosion of all those feet.

For those of you who've asked, my feet are feeling a lot better. The new shoes have helped. I was able to walk much more easily within about a day of getting them. But I'd still have done it all. The pain was temporary and easily forgotten, but the sights I've seen will last much, much longer in my memory.


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