May 26th

Wow…today was certainly not what we had expected. I can laugh about it now, but the fact is that we faced some major obstacles. First, I’ll tell the good parts. We saw the Duomo (cathedral and baptistery), which was impressive for the minute details on some of the doors (which depicted scenes from the New and Old Testament), as well as on the outside of the cathedral as a whole. I’m continually amazed by how ornate all of these churches are…very different from what I am used to. But anyway, we basically just explored other parts of Florence by foot, getting a feel for the city.

Then the craziness began. I’ll summarize by saying that our hostel was not in a prime location, and we ended up going back to where we had stayed the previous night. Like I said…that’s a very concise summary :). Tomorrow is a new day, thankfully, and we will be visiting the Uffizzi and Michelangelo’s David. Tomorrow will be our last day in Florence, before we leave for Siena and then on to Rome. And so, I end this entry–and day–by knowing that tomorrow will be better.

May 27th

As expected, today has been a much better day! 🙂 Somehow, we lucked up and visited all of the museums during a special event, because entry was free (always a nice surprise). But instead of writing about the museums–which I have talked about in the past–I have to mention an amazing lunch. That’s right…I’m talking about food. Actually, it was our waiter who made it memorable as well. He was trying off his English on us–a lot of slang, too–, asking us random facts about our state, and offering to contact the archbishop to marry us. We didn’t take him up on his offer :), but it was a pleasant break from the hustle and bustle of Florence.

Of course, some of the crowds might have been due to the fact that the Italian president had some sort of engagement in a church next to the Uffizi Gallery. We had noticed that there seemed to be a lot of guards outside; but when the barricades, etc. were put up then we really knew something was going on. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see him because he arrived as we were inside (and believe me, I wasn’t going to give up my spot in line after 1 1/2 hours of waiting! :)…

Note: I hope I didn’t sound unappreciative in my last day or two of the update. They were a little rough, but I’m still very glad and thankful to be here!

May 28th

We arrived in Siena this afternoon, and had the perfect amount of time to drop off our bags at the hostel and go out to the city for the evening. It was the perfect time of day by then–not too hot, but still sunny. We visited the Baptistery of the Duomo, which was covered in frescoes, statues, etc. Having little description or explanation of the building we tried to decipher the stories on our own.

Afterwards, we began a long period of dinner/people watching in Il Campo, the main square. It was so much fun just watching the locals and tourists (and a lot of cute kids) all milling around. Even the pigeons were entertaining.

As the sun was going down we headed back to our hostel, where we found a crowd in the lobby watching the finals of the European soccer league. I had been hoping to go to a game [I played for 12 years growing up], but soon found out in S pain that the season was almost over near the end. Oh well…

There are a few cool girls that we’ve met in coming here, too. It’s great to see how people scattered from all over the globe come together. Oh, and what’s even more crazy is that 2 of the girls (sisters) are from Mtn. Brook! ; Yeah, small world. Most others, though, that we’ve met over our 2 weeks are from other parts of Europe (Britain, especially) or Australia. While in Cinque Terre I asked Zoe why so many people from Australia seemed to travel. She describe d it as a middle class rite of passage, although not nearly everyone is able to go.

It makes me wonder, though, why there aren’t more Americans (and especially more from AL or UA) who do this. Proximity, of course, is a huge advantage for other Europeans. And I suppose that economics also play a big role (I mean, I certainly would not be here if it were not for the award). But it seems that there are other factors as well (maybe the US is so big and diverse on its own?). It’s something to think about I guess.

May 29th

[Spent a nice day in Siena….head to Rome tomorrow.]