Words cannot express how happy I am right now to be reunited with my family this week!!!
Bless their jetlagged selves, my mother, father, and brother searched the cheapest tickets they could find to Europe (halfway to where I was in Asia), and hence we are now all four together in gorgeous and historic Florence, Italy: home of the Renaissance! (Home of gelato and fresh pizza, too… mmm!)
After five months of hostels and cheap curries on rice, and after five months of companionship with lots and lots of strangers, it is AMAZING to be in a nice hotel with my loved ones, eating lush meals and going on bona fide tours. I love my family!!!
Bundled in hats and scarfs and raincoats imported from Boston, the four of us went sightseeing around Florence today.
Hop aboard to see the famed sights, part one!
First, we went to the Basilica di San Lorenzo, shown in the first four photos. Our guide, Erica, explained that the famed Medici family had their own wing constructed inside to demonstrate just how powerful they were.
We took some hat-free photos with me and my wonderful brother, but alas it turned out that my raspberry-hued hat left ridiculous bite marks on my forehead, so I was forced to re-apply my head covering to avoid further fraternal ridicule.
Well at least I’m not the one who turned out to be accidentally using a dog brush on my hair!! Hahahah! I’ve been cracking up all day about this!
Next we trotted down the glistening cobblestone streets to the famed Duomo, pictured in the last five photos. Until recently, this edifice was the largest dome in the world! It was begun in 1296 and took hundreds of years to complete.
Ah, the history and years behind European structures!
Across from the Cathedral is the Baptistery, which contains the word-famous Gate to Paradise: massively tall, brass with gold-plating, and stunningly adorned with images from the Bible.
Our guide told us tales of the tyranny of the artistic masterminds like Brunelleschi: he wanted no time wasted on the dome’s construction, and so he had wine sold way up on the top of the building so the builders would have no need to dismount from their productive perches!
Inside the cathedral, hundreds of tourists milled around: French, Spanish, Italian, English, Japanese, and more! Some snapped photos, some lit candles to pray, some slumped in fatigue in the benches at the walls, and some just gaped in awe at the size of the place.
“You may forget everything else about Florence,” said our guide, “but you will never forget the dome.”
Off we go now to eat– er, sight-see some more. Part two of Florence sights is coming for you tomorrow!