Day 3 - Florence
In the evening of Day 2, we visited the central train station in Rome to by our tickets to travel to Florence by train. The train left in the morning around 9:45.
It turns out that there are actually a lot of trains there that go to Florence. Some are fast (1.5 hours) and some are slow (3.5 hours). Luckily, we bought a ticket for one of the fast/direct trains, which is a little more expensive.
Unluckily, we actually got on one of the slow trains. Our train was not on the "board", and then one appeared with a time a few minutes before the time on our tickets. They didn't seem to give you much time between when your train first appeared on the board and to get to your train (and this is a large, large station). So we rushed to the right platform as soon as we saw that, thinking that maybe our train was a little early or something because surely they couldn't have two trains just a few minutes apart.
Well we got on and apparently we were wrong -- this was the slow train. When the guy finally came around to collect tickets he laughed at us a little bit, but it was no big deal. We actually realized before it got going that it was the wrong train, and as we decided to get off -- the doors closed.
Once we got to Florence, it was a much nicer place than Rome overall -- much cleaner and prettier. It was a short walk from the train station there to our hotel, which was nicer than the one in Rome. (And although all of the hotels said they had air conditioning, none actually did).
I think we first visited the art gallery -- Galleria dell'Accademia -- where the statue of David satnds. (No pictures allowed). We were surprised at how tall the statue actually was, and how lifelike and detailed it was. There were lots of art-student-looking types sitting around it trying to sketch it on paper.
Then we went walking, and we first visited the Duomo and the Baptistry. The
Baptistry is a small building outside the main cathedral with an amazing mosaic ceiling and detailed bronze doors.
The Duomo has a very ornate facade and large dome that we walked to the top of on the next day, I think.
At one point it started raining, and we stood on the steps of the Duomo to protect ourselves from the rain, which is when I took these pictures.
After that, we walked to a square where they have another statue of David and down to the river in front of the Ponte Vecchio, over the Arno river -- the only bridge in Florence not destroyed by the Nazis when they left in 1944.
I think this was also the day we discovered the joy of Italian Gelato (ice cream) and from that day on had to get it at least once a day.