Another early morning to take a 2 hour train to Florence, however I was up a bit earlier to drink coffee and do some morning writing, to have a positive start to the day. Today is also our CEO’s birthday. I had already purchased museum passes, so as soon as we arrive in Florence I head off on my own. I am off to explore the Uffizi museum, as well as Galleria dell’Accademia. Florence is a very walk-able city, and I was able to navigate pretty successfully with the map. I was able to see some sights along my way to both museums.
First up was the Uffizi Museum. This is home to The Birth of Venus by Botticelli, which is absolutely beautiful in person to see, the Portraits of the Duke & Duchess of Urbino by Piero Della Francesca, which I was more drawn to than I had been expected to, as well as Doni Tondo by Michelangelo. There were also some early work of Leonardo da Vinci. I cannot say this was my favorite museum I have visited, as most of the art work looked very similar to me, and there was not much that drew me in. I did really enjoy seeing The Birth of Venus, which made the trip worth wild.
I had plenty of time before my reservation at Galleria dell’Accademia, so I made sure to stroll past Catedrale di S. Maria del Flore on my way. While walking through the streets, I passed a small art gallery that caught my eye, with a guy in the window who was painting with a spatula knife. I have always been drawn in my this type of artwork. I was watching from the outside and was pulled into the shop by another older Italian man with kind eyes. The artwork was incredible, but with limited space, and repacking a daily struggle, I left empty handed. Walking away I thought a lot of the interaction I had with the artists, which put a smile on my face, I thought about the paintings that caught my attention, and I questioned if I would regret the decision to walk away. At this point the rain started to sprinkle, and I walked around the beautiful Cathedral with my mind still pondering.
Since I had time, I spent some time just taking in the beauty of the city, and also watch a photo shoot that was taking place at the Duomo. Having so much time with my own thoughts, can not always be a good thing, and with still time to spare, I decided to walk back and see if I could find the art studio.
With a bit luck, as I had not been paying close attention to which streets I was walking down, just the direction in which I was walking, I found the studio. With a price point in mind, I went back in and asked about pricing for the different pieces of art. There were so many that I really liked, and it was hard to choose just one, but I did. What started as a pleasant interaction with the artist, turned into what I now see to be a really funny story, although one I may save for in-person conversation. I will leave it as this, I was kissed by a bright eyed, kind, and older Italian artist… unprovoked and unexpected.
Last stop in Florence was the Galleria dell’Accademia to see David. Even though I had prior purchased tickets with a time, I still had to wait in a bit of a line. The rain started to pick up again on my way, but luckily I had brought my rain jacket with me, so I put that on over my day pack to keep my camera dry and most of myself. When it rains, the street vendors, who go around trying to sell you trinkets, switch over to umbrellas and ponchos. You can not walk down the streets without being approached to purchase, it can be quite annoying at times. Once in line, I had a couple from America behind me who were on their honeymoon. We chatted here and there while waiting, until the rain started pouring down. I was so thankful for this couple, because as they were without rain protection and getting soaked in the rain, all you could hear was laughter, which in turn made me laugh as well. When you are in these situations where you can either laugh or cry, laughter is often the best medicine, and I really appreciated their humor at the situation. It wasn’t until the rain subsided that we were let in the the museum, most of us a bit soggy, but still in high spirits.
I really enjoyed the Statue of David. I have heard things here and there about people’s disappointment, but I found myself in awe. The detail, even in just his hands alone was quite impressive. David was the main attraction to this museum, although I did wandered around the room with the sculpture, which again I find amazing with how realistic they can make a piece of stone. Two pieces really caught my eye for the detail they put in the cloth in the piece to make it seem to real and flowing.
I left the museum and made my way back to the train, with some minor detours on the way back. I ran into some of my group on the way back, which was great, as it allowed me to take a bit of a nap on the two hour train ride.
Funny story about the train ride. I was awake by the time we had about 30 minutes left of the ride, and so the group of us were chatting away. Sometimes, we had long delays at stations, so we were already running a bit of a delay. At one point, we realize one station is taking a particularly long time, about 5 – 7 minutes, and we are just ready to be back. It was at this point, I questioned the group which stop we were at, and if we were in fact back to our station. We were! We were so tired and distracted, we hadn’t realized we already made it back to our stop, which thankfully was not only the last stop, but we also didn’t start going back from where we once came from! It made for a funny story to tell the others!
The first night in Viareggio, we found this delicious dinner restaurant, so myself and one other decided to go back for dinner, and we were joined by one more. This was one of my favorite dinners. The food was good, the wine was flowing and the company was excellent! We also kept room for dessert, which was homemade and really really good. I don’t typically like Tiramisu, but I really enjoyed my bites of this one!
For our CEO’s birthday, we bought a couple bottles of wine, and sang happy birthday in English and some of us sang in Polish. A large group of them went down to the water for a night swim, but between being run down and knowing what the water looked like, I bowed out and went to bed. Boy was I thankful for a full and restful night sleep!
I am thankful that I know myself well enough to know what I need from life. I am also very thankful for these days that I have to myself. I really love traveling as part of a group and I love having people to come back to and discuss the days activities with, but I also like to be able to go off and do my own thing from time to time. After all, this is my adventure!
Tomorrow is Venice and I couldn’t be more excited!