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A European Engagement: Florence

Our first train to travel to Venice was from Pisa to Florence, which we purposely scheduled with a four hour layover in Florence to be able to explore a bit. The morning of travel I immediately regretted the layover option because we were about half way through our trip at this point and slowly becoming exhausted, but in the end, I'm glad we did it anyways.

Sitting on the top of the double decker train

Florence is such a beautiful city, as is most of Italy, but it has such a charm to it that is unique to just Florence. When we first arrived, we wandered through some of the leather markets to make our way to the town square. Since it was just a layover, we had to bring all of our stuff with us as well, which meant for about four hours we looked like major tourists and I got an amazing workout in.

In the square you will find Piazza del Duomo, Florence Basilica, & Santa Maria del Fiore. These buildings are so breathtakingly beautiful, and they sort of surprise you right in the middle of the city.

While we were walking around, we noticed some emergency vehicles and many emergency personnel in one spot near some of the Basilica scaffolding. If you looked close enough, you could see a man on the edge of the scaffolding smoking, and just sort of hanging out. Throughout the day we kept coming back to the area to see if any sort of progress had been made, but there was only more people and more emergency crew members, and the road was now blocked off. I am assuming the man was threatening to jump, but after a few hours, there was someone else on the scaffolding with him, and eventually they coaxed him down safely (thank goodness).

The Basilica and Red Dome are some of the things that make Florence famous, as is the art museum where Michelangelo's Statue of David is found. We did not have time to actually go into the museum, but we did see the replica along with the guards small parade outside the front of the museum.

Not too far from the statue was the beautiful Ponte Vecchio bridge, which was the only bridge across the Arno in Florence until 1218. The current bridge was rebuilt after a flood in 1345. During World War II it was the only bridge across the Arno that the fleeing Germans did not destroy. Instead they blocked access by demolishing the medieval buildings on each side. On November 4, 1966, the bridge miraculously withstood the tremendous weight of water and silt when the Arno once again burst its banks.
While walking through Florence we also accidentally bumped into a personal favorite... the Disney store! We were only mildly sobbing the entire time, especially since "Kiss the Girl" in Italian was playing.

It was almost time to get back on the train, but we wanted to grab some lunch first. We went to the central market to check out the options. It was very overwhelming because it was a very busy time, and there was not a lot of English to know what to order so we didn't stay long, but it did seem like a really neat place.
Instead, we grabbed a quick calzone and sandwich made with focaccia bread before heading back to the train station to head to our final destination of Venice.

I wouldn't have changed amount of time we spent in Florence, and it was the perfect little side trip for us.

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