This was the first full day in Florence. It’s a good city, very old but definitely not decrepit. I started the day by going to church at the Duomo, the Basilica here; technically it is the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fior. It’s absolutely massive, although much more interesting on the outside than on the inside. The Mass was in Italian, and it was a Gregorian Mass, so I had no idea what they were saying, although they did have translations of the readings in English, and in French, and in German, and I believe in Spanish. After that I met up with a friend I know from church at Clemson, Christine Davidson. We got lunch, and then she showed me around the area. We walked around for a while, and then we ended up walking up to the Piazza Michelangelo, or something like that. It was a bit of a hike, but what a view! Seriously, this was one of the best views I’ve ever had in my life. Maybe not quite equal to the Cinque Terre, but it was another amazing spot. You can see the mountains around the city, and get a feel for the more agricultural land right next to it. It’s really a breathtaking way to view Florence, and I would say the best view of a city I’ve ever had. If you go to Florence and it's a sunny day, go up here, it's worth the walk. I will pay you (in dollars, pounds, euros, whatever) if that view is not worth the time. I think it helps that the city looks different, compared to a place like New York City or Washington, DC. So I owe Christine a big thank you for that. I should also mention that there’s another church up there that is interesting inside. More beautiful art of course, like all the churches around here. After that we walked over/through the Ponte Vecchio, which is a bridge with a bunch of fancy stores on it. They’re all jewelry stores, and expensive ones at that.
The Basilica, not a great picture, but you get the idea of the size of the thing. This close building is actually the Baptistery, which I never got myself into (sorry mom):
It turned out that my new roommates were a 15 year old kid and his grandmother; he was from North Carolina and now lived in Denmark with his family and the grandmother. There were also some older ladies from Canada and two girls from USC (the real USC, not South Carolina like some people in Clemson mean when they say USC). I guess I never looked to see if it was a coed hostel or not. It wasn’t a youth hostel, which I was actually kinda glad about, I feel like a youth hostel might be a little less safe, and a little harder to sleep in at night. The two of them were nice, and went to bed relatively early, which was what I was hoping for.
Oh and I should mention that I owe Christine another thank you. She and her roommates were making dinner around 7 or so, and so she invited me to come over and have some. I enjoyed her cooking, and it was great to talk to people from Clemson. I guarantee you my time in Florence would not have been as good if she hadn’t been so nice and helpful. Check out her blog (there are only one or two posts up): http://fettucinichristini.blogspot.com/
Overall, another good day.