Day 4

Posted by Whit Barringer , Wednesday, May 30, 2007 1:36 PM

CT 3:32
IT 10:32

Today we got up early to meet at the Duomo to go to the Farmer’s Market (Mercato Centrale). There were vendors EVERYWHERE, each having his or her own specialty. Butchers, bakers (no candlestick makers), fruit and vegetable farmers, and even wine, oil, and vinegar venders – it was truly a sight for very-poor-money-wise eyes. One vender came up to us and winked and smiled at me, pinched the cheeks and noses of other girls, and even kissed one of them. But we all got a box of free strawberries out of the deal, so minor sexual harassment wasn’t too horrible. I saw whole rabbits for sale, but I skipped on those.

I got some cheese, bread, and meat for 14 Euro – WAY less than I would have spent going out to eat. To celebrate my good fortune (and begin my savings) I was going to cook myself dinner tonight. That didn’t happen, but read on.

Because some of us had disposable items (like my cheese and meat), we ran back to my apartment – the nearest, I think – put the stuff up, and then ran to meet Dr. Bane at 10. We were actually late, but I gave him one of my new oranges to compensate. We left from there to go to the Duomo and the Baptistery. We got there and began to line up for the Baptistery first, saw it didn’t open until 12, and decided to do the Duomo, which wasn’t open until 10:30. So we waited on Dr. Bane to get Euros to get us our tickets, and we went into that magnificent cathedral.

I didn’t really learn much about it, but I took lots of pictures, including the English mercenary John Hawkwood who came down during the Hundred Years’ War and was important enough to get a fresco in the Duomo. We didn’t get to go to the tombs because it was an extra 3 Euro, but I plan to go back on my own.

Next, we went to the Baptistery. Part of an assignment we have for Dr. Bane is how the ceiling of the Baptistery actually influenced Dante, not the other way around. The building is actually believed to have been a pagan temple that was converted and expanded, and the ceiling is actually in Byzantine style. It shows layers, with the bottommost layer having Satan eating three men. Sound familiar?

I have video of the Baptistery. It’s so beautiful it’s hard to actually believe it was a mosaic, placed tile by tile.

Dr. Bane gave us our tickets to climb the dome, but we decided to go eat first. I grabbed a sandwich and ate some of my tomatoes that I had in the apartment. While we were sitting there, we realized we didn’t have much time to sit around. Kim, Haley, Rachel, and I all headed out (Kim and Haley still leaving their groceries) to the Duomo. We had class at four, and it looked like it was going to turn out to be a crazy time frame. But the line started moving and we were able to climb up…. And up…. And up…. And up.

The dome has 463 steps, I believe. It felt like 4,265. I was already tired when I started, and like an idiot I didn’t bring water. I was so wasted by the time we were only halfway there that I was scared I couldn’t go on. But I finally climbed those last stairs, with the breeze on my face, and I nearly panicked. We were so high up. There wasn’t a building in the city that we couldn’t see, and suddenly it made sense why it was such a crowded city. We understood the why – it was only built for 20,000 people. But to actually see the why was an entirely different story. Florence is actually really small (compared to an American city) and holds nearly 400,000 people. But it is still beautiful.

We took pictures, mine being by a pillar away from the railing, and headed back down. It was crazy steep in some places, as well as crazy tight – there were so many people that had been let in without having been stopped that there was no movement of people in some of the places that we crossed paths. I was behind Haley, and Kim and Rachel were behind me as we went back down and to another section of the dome under the ceiling (btw – the ceiling of the Duomo is almost an exact copy of that in the Baptistery, with only a few differences in subject matter and a huge difference in style). Then we began our real descent and went back down in no time compared to how much time it took us to go up. By the time we got to the bottom, it was after 4:30, I believe. Paulette and Dr. Bane had gone to try and sort luggage out and he had called us to tell us class was cancelled because he was stuck at the airport. However, he decided to ask us all out to dinner, which we all complied. We decided to meet him at six but had nothing to do until then, so we went back to the apartment. We talked a bit and then headed back to the school to meet him. The place he wanted to take us to wasn’t open until 7:30, and it was only 6:30. The others wanted to have wine and I tagged along, not wanting to have any. We all talked to Danielle and Paulette about different stuff, including luggage and future study abroad trips. I told Danielle we had hot water when she had called me earlier on top of the Duomo, so we talked about how some of the apartment assignments had things that need to be fixed.

We then went to this special Italian restaurant (I don’t know the name) and had two courses of the meal. Lasagna, which actually had cinnamon in it (absolutely out of this world), and beef with Chianti sauce. Everyone had wine (even me, but I hated it and gave it away), and the meal was absolutely fantastic. It came out to 19 Euro a person, which was crazy, but Dr. Bane said to pay him whatever we budgeted and he would take care of the rest and take us out for gelato at the number one rated place in Florence. And it really was good. I had rice and strawberry flavors, and they were absolutely wonderful. I talked to Paulette again about how crazy Italy is (she would know – she lived here for a year), and then we all headed our separate ways.

Now’s my time to tell you that it’s actually 8:38 A.M. here (1:38 there). Here’s what happened: I came back to the apartment, started reading, and fell into a deep sleep that I didn’t wake from until 7:50 this morning. So an entry that would have been humongous and annoyingly detailed ended up being a disappointingly short entry. But it serves to highlight every event of the day, even if not in vivid pre-sleep detail.

Ciao, Friends. Off to the Accademia to see David.

3 Response to "Day 4"

Ash Says:

Okay, comment number one:

OHMIGOD, I'm jealous. I wish I wish I wish I could be there with you. You have to take me someday like you said... I command it. :)

p.s. I want a gelato. :(

p.s.s. Bring me wine and olive oil!

Dylan Says:

I'm coming too, even if I have to stowaway in you or Ash's suitcase. Sounds like that stairway was tougher than it appeared. Water must be pretty essential going around town. Is there anything else besides your camera/videocamera and water that's proven to be essential to walking around? Or at least helpful..

Sarah Says:

I can't believe you didn't like the wine. We had a Pino Grigio for my friend Jessica's birthday; I've never found something that good here. Aw well. Wish you could bring me some of that too!

I never went up the Duomo, but I loved it from the outside. We did go in the baptistery. My highest view of the city was from a coliseum we climbed. Seeing the sea of roofs spread out, cluttered and bunched was so amazing. I felt like I was in Mary Poppins and could jump from roof to roof.

We passed through a Farmer's Market, but no buying. I love that you detail the food you eat though! I was going through my journals a few months ago, and I kept noticing how obsessed with food I am! I can't help it!

I love how small Firenze is. It makes me so happy... even if it is crowded.

David huh... I can tell you stories about that!

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