Welcome back for week three in Italy! This week was jam-packed for me, so I have much to discuss!
First, I would like to acknowledge an observation I’ve made, especially so this week: white Italians with box braids and dreadlocks. I have seen so many of them like this and I just want to say that – cultural appropriation aside – it genuinely just doesn’t look good on them. I’ve found that I get stared at a lot (and not necessarily in a good way), just walking around, so I find it odd that those aspects of Black culture are being incorporated into their appearances.
Onto the more fun matters of this post!
On Monday, I went to the Interactive Leonardo Da Vinci Museum, and upon entering, I almost immediately felt overwhelmed. This museum is not like a typical museum, for one, because it’s very noisy. Since it’s interactive, you can touch the displays and when their parts are being moved, they are quite loud. It’s a museum like no other and is a definite must-see if and when you find yourself in Florence.
If you plan to do multiple activities in the Duomo Plaza, I recommend that you get the Brunelleschi’s Pass. It’s valid for 3 days, and it allows you entry to every site in the plaza for only 30 euro. I only ended up using it for one day, and that was Tuesday, but I still saw most of what the plaza had to offer.
I started my Duomo Plaza adventure in the Opera del Duomo Museum, and I have to say that this museum is truly magnificent! It has four different floors, and every exhibit is so well put together and beautifully set up. I was here for a good two hours, and if I could’ve stayed all day, I would have.
After my time in the museum, I visited the Baptistry, and truthfully, I didn’t know what to expect when I went inside. Most of it is under construction, so that was surprising, but the view of the ceiling is still remarkable. This is essentially the only thing to experience in the Baptistry, so if you visit, take your time to view all the scenes depicted in it.
This same day, I did the impossible: climbing Giotto’s Bell Tower. I would not consider myself an athletic person by any means, so this hike felt like it was going to be the last thing I ever did in my short life. I made the mistake of not ensuring that my water bottle was filled up, so I trekked up 414 stairs without a drop of water. I would definitely not recommend doing that, because until you get to the top, the tower is not very well ventilated. Speaking of getting to the top, although my legs felt like they were made of jelly by the time I made my way back down, the view up there is truly worth the climb.
I had a museum day on Wednesday, being that museums were the only activities (other than class) I had done. First, I visited the Galileo Museum and saw so many variations of telescopes, compasses, globes, and maps. I was starting to feel like a cartographer myself. This museum is definitely a must-add to your Florence itinerary.
Later that day, I visited the Archeological Museum. One word: bones. So many bones from prehistoric and olden times. This museum is much less of a tourist attraction, and this is evidenced by the fact that all the information plaques are essentially only in Italian. This didn’t dampen my experience in the slightest though. If you’re a fan of evolution and history, this museum is the place for you.
On Thursday, I went to the Medici Palace. There are different types of tickets you can get here that will determine what experience you have. I got a single ticket without making a reservation, so there were certain areas of the palace that were restricted. If you make a group reservation, you would most likely be able to access those restricted areas. Regardless, what I was able to see was still beautiful. There were actually three main parts of the palace, 1) the art exhibit of Oscar Ghiglia that showcases all his oil paintings (and they are truly fantastic), 2) the palace rooms, and 3) the archeological path that goes underneath the palace that showcases many marble busts of the Medici family and company.
On Friday, I went to the Bardini Gardens and got to see what I would consider the best viewpoint of Florence. You might have heard of the Michaelangelo Point across the Ponte Vecchio, but this view gets you a closer look at what that spot offers. Plus, you get to see it surrounded by beautiful flowers and nature.
Finally, on Saturday, I took a smart trip tour to Venice! That day was full of firsts for me, like riding in a water taxi and riding on a gondola. The water taxi ride made me feel a bit seasick because of how small it was and how easily the waves made by other boaters made our boat sway. The gondola ride was so much more peaceful than I was anticipating that it almost felt eerily quiet. I wasn’t going to complain though, because it was very relaxing, and it allowed me to enjoy the views that much more. The ride back from Venice to the bus station involved us taking a water bus (?) instead of a water taxi, and since I sat on the top deck, I was able to see so much beauty in the water and the surrounding areas of Venice (plus no sea sickness!).
Next week I start my second class, so I will most likely not be nearly as busy doing activities like I was this past week. Still, I will be enjoying my next week in Florence just the same.
Until next week – Ciao!