We last left our intrepid explorers at the airport in Florence, Italy; but how did they get from the airport to their room? What adventures awaited them on their first full day in Italy? All this and more in today’s post.
The Wild Ride
The Florence airport is a tiny little place and since all passport checks had been taken care of in Amsterdam (after wading through the wall of people), all we had to do was follow the signs to the arrivals hall to find yet another sign…one with my name on it because, as one of his “amenities,” the owner of our vacation rental provided a free ride from the airport.
And let me tell you, even though it was free, the trip was more fun than any overpriced amusement park ride! Mr Husband is under the belief that every Italian wants to be Mario Andretti. He may be right. In his little car, the owner zipped in and out of traffic, changed lanes without warning, and raced as fast as he could anytime traffic cleared out. More exhilarating than an espresso!
Thankfully, despite filling it with French lately, my brain still has a bizarre amount of Italian lurking in it. Since the vacation rental owner wanted to practice his English and I wanted to practice my Italian, our conversation started out with me speaking Italian and him replying in English. It didn’t take long for this to turn into a weird mash up on his part of Ital-glish (half the sentence in English and half in Italian). But hey, communication is communication.
The vacation rental was nice (although we soon would learn it had a horrible downside). Tile floors, high ceilings, a bathroom even bigger than the one we have at home, comfy bed, and a well-stocked kitchen (complete with the ever-important Italian coffee maker, which Finn McSpool and I made use of immediately).
Tickets? You Want Tickets? Ha!!
Despite a relatively early arrival, Mr. Husband and I didn’t do much after checking in but wander around a bit and stock up on groceries. As with any good case of being tossed ahead nine hours from the time your body clock is used to, we woke up super early the next day (our first full day).
At the top of Mr. Husband’s to-do list in Florence was to climb the Duomo’s dome – the lines were too long the first time we went to Florence six years ago and we simply didn’t have time to wait. So this time he was determined to climb the nearly 400 foot monster. Since our guide books said the doors to the dome climb opened at 8:00am we headed out. Early bird gets the thigh burn, right?
Turns out that while you can get in line at 8:00am, you can’t buy tickets at 8:00am. No tickets are sold at the dome doors themselves, you have to buy them at the ticket office, which we knew. But we didn’t know the office doesn’t open until something like 9:30-10am. Logic in regards to ticket buying is clearly not a thing in Florence, as we would discover more than once.
So, with time to kill, we started to wander. I forget exactly where we were heading (lack of sleep = poor memory), but we ended up at a museum that was on my Florentine to-do list: The Bargello. And weirdly enough, despite it only being 8:20am, the doors were open (and the ticket booth was too!).
A Bit of Jail Time
Built in 1255, the Bargello is the oldest building in Florence. It started life as a sort of city hall, but was later (1570s) made into the police headquarters by the Medicis. It also served as a prison and plenty of prisoners had a date with the executioner in the main courtyard.
In the mid 1800s, the Bagello became an art museum focusing mainly on sculptures that include works by Michelangelo, Bernini, and Donatello. There’s also lots of intricate goodies like armor, jewel cases, tapestries, and other trinkets that have an amazing amount of craftsmanship poured into them (being creative is what people used to do with their time before smart phones!).
Under the Dome
Once we roamed around the Bargello for a while, we headed back to the Duomo. Mr. Husband ended up buying his ticket at the Campanile (bell tower) and hiked his way up that as a warm up for the Dome climb. Me? I’m not a fan of narrow, winding stairways, so I took myself on a Rick Steves’ audio tour around Florence.
By the time Mr. Husband and I joined up again, the line to go up the Dome was LOOOONNNNGGGGG. There are signs along the railing where people line up to wait letting you know how long the wait will be from various points. The signs stop at two hours and let’s just say the line extended beyond that point. Did someone say “Lunch?”
Not to be swayed from his to-do list, Mr. Husband went back later in the evening. The line was still long, but not terribly (maybe a hour’s wait). Finally he got to the doors and I headed off to finish up my audio tour. (Photos of the climb and the views are below.)
After a day of somewhere close to a thousand miles of walking, it was time for bed…
I’ll be back next week with Part 3 of our adventure when things start to go a little wonky. Any dome climbers out there? Any keep-your-feet-on-the-ground types out there? Share your tales in a comment!
For the Curious…
For those who are curious, the Dome of the Duomo (Santa Maria del Fiore, is its official name) has a great story attached to it. When the cathedral was first built, the designers knew they wanted a dome, but had no idea how to build one without the big ol’ buttresses of a Gothic cathedral. They figured god (probably not Bacchus) would provide them a solution.
A hundred years after the place was built (guess god is slow in getting his messages), a competition was held in the hopes of finding someone who could solve the dome problem. The winner (despite his secrecy) was Brunelleschi who ended up creating two domes, one inside the other, in the 1400s. When you climb the dome, you walk in between these two layers. No thank you.
- If you want to read more about the dome be sure to check out Brunelleschi’s Dome by Ross King.
- And if you’re looking for a travel buddy like Finn, head over to Crawcrafts Beasties to learn all about these little guys!