15 May 2013
Traveling my style means being ready to change plans at any moment. This morning we took the metro to the train station, activated our Eurail pass, and boarded a train for Sienna-a small tuscan town north of Rome about halfway to Florence. Our time in Rome was fantastic, but we have many more stops on our journey that I excited to experience! I honestly cannot believe that I am really in Europe right now… That I am traveling on a train through Italy staring out my window as we pass mile after mile of beautiful tuscan towns dotting the serene green hillsides. My dream is to someday have a house on one of these hillsides, outside of Roma where I can be inspired everyday by the beauty of my surroundings. Mama Mia, how I love Italy.
Italian words I have learned:
Sienna is a cute little city right in the heart of tuscany. We were able to spend part of the day here on the way to Florence. I have found that Europe has a lot of cobblestone sidewalks and streets, and much of the time you don’t know which it is so you have to be on the look out for cars always!
We woke up in the morning, got ready, and discovered that we didn’t know how to unlock the door! Who knew that even locks are different in Europe! We finally woke Daniel’e up at 6 in the morning to tell us how to do it…then after a few to-dos at the train station, we eventually boarded the train for Sienna. Sienna was a beautiful old Tuscan town with lots of gothic architecture. It was a charming place full of life and vibrance, and lots of good ole’ Italian smells… I got some delicious bread from a bakery and picked up some fruit from a local market for my lunch. From the train station to the city entrance we had to take 8 really long escalators up an indoor walkway that scaled up the city hill…crazy, but fun!
We stopped to eat at a pasta place that smelled amazing and partially so that we could use their wifi…and this is the code they gave us. Are you serious? Long story short, we couldn’t get it to work no matter how many times we tried it. That is the longest and strangest password I have ever seen!
I am living on bread and cheese like my mom did when she backpacked Europe 25 years ago, except I eat more gelato than cheese. I even had gelato for breakfast one morning! Part of the reason I am backpacking Europe right now is because my mom did when she was my age. This may sound really cliche, but I look up to my mom for guidance in every aspect of my life. When I read her journal about her 3 month backpack trip through Europe, I knew that one day I was going to do the same thing! I grew up looking at her scrapbook and travel box with all of her travel details and the souvenirs she picked up along the way…and knew that I was going to emulate her in this aspect as well. Now I understand why she says she never wanted to leave Europe like 100 times in her journal…because it really is a magical place.
We arrived in Florence late afternoon and headed straight for the Galleria dell’ Academia that houses the great statue of David sculpted out of marble by Michelangelo. We paid our 11 euros to enter and entered a giant room full of paintings from Michelangelo, Giovanni and other great painters. It was incredible how big the paintings were and how vibrant the colors and beautiful the emotions that were portrayed in the paintings were. They were the most beautiful pieces of art I had ever seen and it was amazing how fluid their brushstrokes were. Each artist’s style create unique paintings that evoke different emotions. Today and even then, painting is considered one of the purest forms of creativity. Art is one of the purest forms of creativity. As we spiraled through the rooms of beautiful paintings, sculptures, books, and precious artifacts, I was astounded by the intricate design and effort put int each of them. It is incredible to see such beautiful work and even more inspiring when you consider what they had to work with in the time period they lived in. Michelangelo lived 1465-1564, during an era when there was not much technology nor access to many of the tools we have today. In light of this, when you see some of these great pieces of art it absolutely blows you away.
As we walled around the corner leaving a room full of beautiful paintings, up ahead of us stood in a wide open dome space at the end of the hallway, the Statue of David. We went during the last couple hours the museum was opened and there was still a 30 minute line to enter the museum, and a swarm of people surrounding the famous statue. As I walked closer I could see more and more detail and get a perspective of how big the statue really is. Standing as close as they allow visitors to venture I finally understood why so many people come all the way to Florence to view this great piece of artwork. Ever vein, muscle, and hair was perfectly sculpted into David’s flawless figure. It was if a giant white human being were standing in front of me. The Statue of David is considered the most “perfect” piece of work to exist. It is such an experience standing if front of such a complete piece of artwork. Michelangelo must of had quite a grasp on anatomy and a vast medical knowledge to have sculpted a statue with such perfect body composition.
This sculpture portrays a perfect connection between creativity and structure. The thought and design of the Statue of David was brilliant, and paired with the organization and structure of the figure it can be seen that this statue is far from typical. For centuries up until the present business owners, artists, teachers, etc. have been searching for the perfect balance between the opposing creative and structural nature. The statue of David has been the most perfect example of this balance for decades. The story behind the statue is quite amazing. Michelangelo obtained an abandoned piece of marble from the Florence Cathedral and went to work sculpting the most famous statue known to man. It is a figure of the Prophet and King David, the same one who killed Goliath with a stone to the forehead. The statue shows David with a sling hung over his shoulder, portraying the strength and power in God’s hand rather than in man’s inventions. We were able to see a lot of sights on the way such as the Basilica e Museo di S. Maria Novella and the Basilica di S. Lorenzo.
After our stunning view of the statue of David, we headed to the Cattedrale di S. Maria del Fiore. This is one of the largest Cathedrals in the world and it is absolutely beautiful. The patterned designed on it’s exterior is like nothing I have ever seen before on a church. As you walk through the narrow cobblestoned streets, you catch glimpses of a striped-like building…truly eye catching and awe inspiring. This design draws people from all around the world-another instance of creativity at it’s finest.
On the way to Ponte Vecchio, the famous bridge that crosses the river Fiume Arni in Florence, we stopped by Palazzo Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio. These are two beautiful Plazas filled with beautiful sculptures, markets, and artistic vendors. The Palazzo Signoria is one of the two Plazas that contain a mock statue of David-the one that everyone flocks to because photos are not allowed in the Galleria dell’ Academia.
The series of bridges crossing the Fiume Arni in Florence are absolutely astounding. By far this is the most beautiful place I have been thus far. Ponte Vecchio is a bridge lined with expensive jewelry shops and leather apparel. I have noticed that most Italians wear leather…a lot of leather. Leather, motorcycles, and Gelato seem to be the norm here.