A Travellerspoint blog

Florence, Pisa and Rome !

and lots of trains...

semi-overcast 18 °C

Hi everyone! Sorry this post and the following ones came so late but we have spent the last 10 days in Split and our internet wasn't fast enough to upload pictures onto this site until we got to Dubrovnik, so we have some catching up to do! I also just noticed that I had two sets of double photos and a few spelling errors in the Venice post. I was literally writing it as we were walking out the door to catch a train to Rome and didn't have time to check it over at all, so my apologies :)
Anyways back to Italy, so we took a 4 hour train from Venice to Florence and met a great guy named Luiz from Brazil along the way. Its always so nice to run into great company. We chatted with him pretty much the whole way and at one point we got talking about cheesy souvenirs, it seems like every city has their thing, if I haven't mentioned it before, Holland has its wooden shoes, Prague had tons of Marionette puppet shops (we couldn't resist -we bought a classic Pinocchio) and Venice had of course their Venetian masks. Luiz bought one of these masks and brought it out to show us and Jordan grabbed the Halloween masks we bought in Prague-we had a pretty good laugh at ourselves and our souvenirs! lol
It was dark by the time we got to Florence so we headed to Maria's, where we were staying for the next three nights. We booked a room in Maria's home through a website called 'airbnb' which was our second time booking through this site (the first time was at Robert's in London) and it was a great experience again! We highly recommend using this site, its hassle free, the reviews are accurate, in both our cases we got exactly what we saw online and both of our hosts were helpful and friendly! Anyways, we dropped our bags and headed for the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, more commonly known as the Duomo. We didnt really know where we were going just knew what general direction it was in, hoping to spot it along the way. Well this is something you literally could NOT miss. It was up until that point, the most beautiful cathedral I had ever seen-actually I'd say it still is because even though we have seen St. Peter's Basillica, which could obviously never be topped on the interior-I'd have to say as far as the exterior goes, the Duomo has got the Basillica beat. It literally brought tears to my eyes, the size of it was phenomenal, and the detail-undescribable.
Construction started in 1296 and was completed in 1436. The entire exterior of the Cathedral is faced with green, pink and white marble panels. Sorry let me repeat that, the ENTIRE exterior is made of marble! I find it mind-boggling that something like this could be created in just 140 years! I know thats a very long time but if you could only see the detail on every square inch of that Cathedral-you would understand :)
Can you spot me in the next photo??
We walked from there to the Piazza della Signoria (or as we call it, the town square ) where many famous statues are on display.
The statue of David
Hercules and Cacus
The Fountain of Neptune
Donatello the Artist originally from Florence and a few others..
These are kind of a mixture of pics from that night and the next day.. This is the Uffizi Gallery, one of the oldest and most famous Museums in the Western world.
This is the Bargello Palace also in the town square it is a former prison, turned art museum.
We spent most of our time in Florence just taking in the beautiful city, this is the Ponte Vecchio or "Old Bridge" that is noted for still having shops lining the whole bridge. At one time the shops were occupied mostly by butchers and today, jewellers, art dealers and souvenir sellers.
Here's a pic of how crowded the square gets during the day, and this is low season! I can't imagine how full the city is during the summer months! We went for a long walk one day to get away from the crowds and to get some better views of the city-found some wild Olive trees... not tasty..
On our last day there we made a quick day trip to Pisa to see the Famous Leaning Tower, the countryside through Tuscany is stunning but due to dirty train windows I don't have any good pictures of it but it reminded me of what I picture Brazil to look like, huge mountains covered in greenery. Beautiful!
We headed back to Florence that night and headed out to Rome the next day. We got in after dark but we headed down to the Colosseum anyways. Construction began in 72 AD and was completed in 80 AD so its incredibly impressive how much of the structure still stands today. The Colosseum was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions and re-enactments of famous battles.
Its overwhelming being somewhere that holds so much history, we must have sat there and just looked at it for two hours easy. And then went home and watched Gladiator again lol.
Here is the Arch of Constantine right next to the Colosseum.
The next day we checked out some more sights..
The Trevi Fountain, the largest Baroque fountain in Rome and one of the most famous fountains in the world. It is said that if you throw a penny over your shoulder and into the fountain, you will return to Rome again someday, it obviously worked for Jordan the first time so we tried it again :)
The Pantheon was originally built in 31 BC as a temple to all the Gods of Ancient Rome. It is one of the best-preserved of all Roman buildings. It has been in continuous use throughout its history, and since the 7th century, has been used as a Roman Catholic Church.
The Oculus in the Pantheon has always been open to the weather, allowing rain to enter and fall to the floor, where it is carried away through drains. Its believed to be there so that peoples prayers could go through the opening and directly up to the Gods.
These paintings on the walls are not what they appear to be, they are actually tile replicas of these famous works of art. The tiles are so small you have to be standing about 2 feet away to notice, incredible.
On our way to St.Peters Basilica - some of the "cars" here if you can even call them that are too funny!
Here is a progression of pictures as we get closer to try to put into perspective how massive this place is .. Look at the little tiny people at the very top! The Cathedral itself covers an area of 5.7 acres!!
St Peter's is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture in the world and remains one of the largest churches to date. While it is neither the mother church of the Roman Catholic Church nor the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, Saint Peter's is known as one of the holiest Catholic sites. It has been described as "the greatest of all churches of Christendom". Because of its location in the Vatican City, the Pope holds a number of services throughout the year, drawing crowds of over 80,000 people, either within the Basillica itself, or outside in St Peter's Square.
In Roman Catholic tradition, the basilica is the burial site of Saint Peter, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus and, also according to tradition, the first Bishop of Rome. The Basillica also houses several tombs of previous popes and other notable people. You can see one of them here below another tile replica ..
You could literally spend days in this Cathedral and not see it all. Its size and detail are mind-boggling! Jordan described it best when he said "this is probably the closest thing to heaven on earth". Coming from a religious Catholic family, it meant just that much more to be there, I wish they could have been there with me :) It was an experience I will never forget.

The Swiss Guards-these guys mean buisness!
St. Peter's Square
Castle Sant'Angelo and the Aelian Bridge over the Tiber River
Here is another couple pics of a church we just randomly came across on our way home, again so beautiful!
Once we were done seeing all the sights we wanted to we spent the rest of our time there relaxing in our hostel.. we found Rome to be so busy and expensive that we were both very ready to head for Croatia -somewhere alot more laid back :)
So after our 3 days in Rome we gladly said goodbye to the hustle and bustle and hopped a train to Ancona on the East coast of Italy, and from there caught the night ferry to Split, Croatia and woke up to palm trees and beaches ! That post to come very soon while we still have good internet!
Bye for now!

Posted by apolloandathena 11:00 Archived in Italy

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That old saying "Take a trip and never leave the farm!"
OMG your blogs and the pictures are so amazing.
Grayson is on the move now also.
Big hugs Aunt Bev and Uncle Paul

by Bev Grimes

Great post guys! Italy looks pretty sweet. Love the pics. Can't wait to see some more on eastern Europe!

by Blair Warren

What a great way to enjoy morning coffee, Mom and I each on our own iPads, making comments on your great pictures and wonderful write ups. You should have been either an author or a photographer!!!!! We miss you, LOVE Dad and Mom.

by Dad

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