Saturday, June 29, 2013

Borgello Gallery, Santa Croce Basillica, Flight to France - Florence Italy - Italy and France trip Day 9

After getting to sleep late, it felt like a really early morning. We’ve got to check out of our room by 10:30-11am, so we woke up at 10am. We didn’t have much to get packed, so we were out of there pretty quick. Thankfully even though we're checking out, we can keep our bags in the lobby while we explore the city.

T loves these fruit and vegetable stands spread throughout the city.

Our first stop today is the Borgello gallery.  After using our Firenze card, we enter the ground floor.  There are a lot of coats of arms lining the walls.  Also there are a few sculptures, including one I hope was a fountain.

Other interesting sculptures includes Giambologna's Oceanus.

Gemmito's The Fisher Boy

And a bronze cannon decorated with the face of Saint Paul.

We continued up the stairs to the 2nd floor.

Here we found some choir books and some paintings, but nothing that blew us away. 

The next room was large and had quite a few sculptures.
The theme in this room is David. This is the original statue by the famous artist Donatello. Personally I think his statue makes David look like a little girl. It's obviously after the battle with Goliath because you can see he's standing on Goliath's head. 

Verrocchio's David also show's David after the battle has taken place. Out of all the statues of David we've seen, Michelangelo's David really stands out as our favorite.

I took a few pictures around the room until one of the attendants started saying “No Photo!” I didn’t see any signs at all coming in, and I was looking for them. Other people were surprised as well. At one point, after I had been told not to, there were at least 3 people taking pictures simultaneously around the room and they got yelled at as well.
Leaving that room (from a different door than we came in), the door was propped open and I noticed on the back side of this door was a small sign with a camera and a line going through it. That’s the only thing I saw saying no photos were allowed. Poor job on their part.

We continued downstairs to the final room. Here we saw a copy of the bust of the master himself, Michelangelo.

We also saw the models Michelangelo used to create Day & Night and Dawn & Dusk on the Medici tombs.

We saw the finished marble statue by Giambologna celebrating Florence's Victory over Pisa.

We actually saw the clay model in the Palazzo Vecchio a few days earlier and there's an interesting story behind it. The finished statue wasn't completed in time for the Medici's wedding in 1565 so this clay model was place here lining the hall instead. It wasn't until 1589 that Giambologna finally finished the marble model. The marble statue was moved to the Bargello in 1868 and never returned, so the clay model was put in its place.

We left the RS guidebook at the hotel so we only had the basic city map to go by. The Basilica of Santa Croce is close by. We’re not sure what’s there, but with time to spare, we started walking in that direction.  The front of the church is under construction, but on the left is a large statue of Dante. 

Using our Firenze card, we entered for free and saw the main altar was under construction too. We received a map of the church and saw that quite a few notable Italians were buried here.

Galileo Galilei, the famous Italian physicist, mathmetician, astronomer and philosopher.

And the Italian sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer who's work we've been enjoying for the past week here and in Rome, Michelangelo Buonarroti.

A cenotaph (empty tomb) honoring Dante Aligheri. I haven't read Dante's Inferno, but I hope to get around to it some day.

We walked towards the back of the church and looked at a few of the old church hymn books.

In 1966 to Arno river flooded and brought mud and water into the church. This picture is actually the inside of the church.

It's lunchtime! Well really it's 2pm and past lunchtime, but it's the only reservation time we could get to one of top rated restaurants on TripAdvisor. We got there around 1:45pm and the guy who took our reservation even remembered who I was and my name (which I’m sure was from the reservation, but still it was good to remember me from 2 days ago on Thursday, especially because they get a lot of people who come in and ask if they can eat here). 

Today they were telling people the soonest they could reserve a table would be Monday at 9:30pm.  Being #3 on TripAdvisor sure makes for some good business.

It’s a small seating area with maybe 8 tables, and 24 seats or so. No wonder they're always crowded. I’m not sure if this is correct, but it certainly looks like a family operation where the two boys take orders and serve the meals, the mother is in the back cooking, and the father is in front making the salads, cutting proschuito and parmesan, etc.  Lots of stuff looks good on the menu and we’re each going to have a starter and a main course. T decided on a zucchini flower and saffron pasta, while I got a pesto ravioli. T really enjoyed her pasta. It was a light flavor and not super saturated with tomato or any other flavors. Finally something she’s really liked. 

Mine was tasty too.  I enjoy pesto and the ravioli was filled with cheese and tasted good.

For the entree, Theresa ordered the lemon chicken with green beans. Her first bite surprised her and was very sour. Eating around the chicken breast though, it was more mild and good flavor.

I got a filet with arugula and parmesan. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting. The filet was already cut into pieces and it almost looked like a salad.  After picking off all the arugula, the steak didn’t have much flavor by itself.  Eating it with parmesan helped a little. In all, it was an enjoyable experience. Not the best food we’ve had while we were here (that’s probably be Zaza) but it was still good.

We got some cash from the ATM then headed up to the hotel for the last time.

Our bags were right where we left them.  Previously we’d been talking about getting a taxi to the bus station, but it’s really a short walk, plus the buses make T sick.  I told T I’d put my bag on top of hers and roll it, leaving her with just the white backpack she normally walks around with and we started off. 
It wasn’t a bad walk at all. The wheels on T’s bag work well, even on the bumpy cobblestones.  We crossed in front of the Duomo one last time and before you knew it we were there.

T happened to notice a bus pulling in front of the train station showing it was going to the airport. After confirming we were in the right place, we loaded our bags underneath, paid 6 Euro each, and started the trip to the airport. Mapping it, it was only 5 miles from where we were. We weren’t sure why it was going to take 30 minutes but we weren’t figuring on Florence streets. 
Not too much longer and we were at the airport. We didn’t know it yet, but we were about to experience another "adventure".

We found our airline counter, Vueling, and they asked to see our bags. Our overhead bags weighed in at just over 10kg each, but we were told they were okay.  Then they saw our personal bags. Uh oh, we’re only allowed one bag on the plane and it has to be under 10kg. The personal bag counts as a bag too, so we're going to be over. There was no way we were going to be able to fit everything into two bags and have it be under the weight limit. The girl suggested we combine what we could and pay to put one bag underneath.  Ugh, we hate checking bags. Cost to check the first bag, 40 Euro or $55, but we can’t do it at this counter.  We have to go back to another counter to pay, get back in line here, then show our receipt and then we'd receive our boarding passes. We moved all the valuables out of T’s bag and filled it with other stuff we didn’t need and checked it. Now we’re left with my bag and my camera bag. Time to head to security.

Short lines here thankfully.  When I went to get our bags from the x-ray machine, a security officer came over and asked if I had a tripod in my bag. Yes, I do travel with it. He said tripods aren’t allowed here, and that I’ll have to go check it.  Sigh… No problems traveling with it all over America, Germany, Tahiti, Bora Bora, or Japan, but here in Italy someone has a problem with it. Back over to pay for a 2nd checked bag, and there goes another $55.
Another wait at the Vueling counter for them to get this bag checked and it’s gotten even longer. Good thing we’re here so early to take care of all this mess. Back to security and this time there were no issues.

Finally we went to our gate and then took a bus over to the plane.

T paid an extra 7 Euro per ticket to get seats at the front of the plane. She booked us both in aisle seats right across from each other. As luck would have it, we didn’t have anyone else on our row, which was great! The back of the plane was full with people in all the seats, but we were able to spread out a bit.
The flight was uneventful which was nice.

Hello France! After exiting, we left for the baggage claim. The last time we had to do this? Probably 2 years ago when we were in Bora Bora. We really don’t like checking bags. And no wonder, it took 30 minutes from us getting off the plane before the belt for the bags finally started rolling. We got them and then headed out to the hotel shuttles.

We’re staying at the Best Western Plus near ORLY airport.  It’s 3km from the airport, so just a little too far to walk, especially for a pregnant Theresa with all her bags. We waited for the free hotel shuttle for 25 minutes and then decided to try the taxi stand.  We showed a group of drivers the address and they said 40 Euro. Ha, yeah right! $55 for under 2 miles! That's crazy. I checked with another driver and he told us to just wait for the shuttle. We walked back and just as T was getting out her phone to call the hotel, the shuttle arrived. It was a quick 5 minutes over to the hotel and we were checked in with no problems.

The room is pretty decent too.

By now it’s 9:30pm, and surprisingly the sun is still up. We looked to see if there are any restaurants close by for dinner, but they’re all too far to walk.  Luckily the hotel restaurant is open still.  Both of us ordered cheeseburgers and they happened to come with an egg on top. 

Even though we've been eating pretty good in Italy, T has been missing her vegetables. T got green beans and then took my lettuce and tomato and made herself a super burger. I don't know how she squished it enough to fit in her mouth, but she did.

Tomorrow we meet up with Ruston and Jacob at Disneyland!  It’s going to be fun!

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