Thursday, September 6, 2012

Wed., Sept. 5 Firenze on Foot

 David's bronze brother in Piazzale Michelangelo
 The Italian countryside
 Our friends on the train
 Firenze from the top 

RT at the madness that is Termini Roma

(This post is a day late because of no wireless in the hotel.) 

Today was our travel day to Firenze (Florence), and it proved to be a long one.  Bidding our wonderful Rome hotel arrivederci, we took the metro two steps to get to the Roma Termini (train station) in order to board a Euro Rail train for the 1 1/2 hour ride to Firenze. We got to the Termini and had no idea where to go next. After walking for some time, we came to the Customer Service desk where you took a number and waited. After about 40 minutes, the man took approximately 40 seconds to tell Richard we needed the train to Milan (which stopped in Firenze and Bologna along the way) and it was at Track 9. (I was disappointed that it wasn’t Platform 9 3/4, quite frankly.)

Once we located it, we ran upstairs for a quick sandwich. We got back to the track to discover the train was running late. After a great deal of speculation, we and some other travelers asked the conductor (or whatever he was) and he said it may not have been track 9 after all. The train was delayed because another train from another company had broken down in front of it. Great. As it turned out, it showed up about 5 minutes later on Track 8.

The train ride across the Italian countryside was magnificent. It looked exactly like I thought it would. We sat across from an elderly lady and a younger lady and a beautiful baby boy. They did not speak a word of English. 

Once in Firenze, we took a horribly loud, jerky, bumpy bus ride across to our hotel, the Grand Hotel Mediteranneao. We got checked in and decided to go exploring. We walked along the Arno River until we got to the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) which will take you into the city in one direction, and to the Piazza San Niccolo and the Piazza Michelangelo. 

We climbed a set of steps that made the Spanish Steps in Rome look like  a doorstep. There had to be 300 of them. On the way up. we found a public rose garden that had become the home to several bronze works by an artist called Folon. 

It was a long climb, but the trip was worth the prize at the top. We got a view that was unbelievable. Michelangelo was born and lived some of his long life in Firenze and the city is very proud of him. We saw a bronze David dedicated to him. I hope we will see his actual sculpture while we are here. 

While in the area, we discovered a beautiful church called San Salvatore al Monte alle Croci, which my friend Fr. David will have to translate for me. I do know it was Franciscan, however. It was very different from the churches we had seen in Rome. Not as ornate, but beautiful in its own right. It actually reminded me of some of the mission churches in California, which were all founded by Franciscans.

We were able to grab dinner (delicious pizza) across the street and then began the trek back to the hotel. 

Tomorrow we have a tour, so after walking for hours today, we are ready for a rest.