Tuesday, August 16, 2011


What a beautiful city! Tragedy struck us when we entered it though, I left our camera on the train from Rome! SO sad!! So our first day in Florence was pretty low key cause we were bummed and tired. But don't get me wrong, we still had a fabulous day! So the crazy thing about these cities in Italy is that you can be walking down tight cobble streets, and then BAM! huge Cathedral right in front of you! The Florence cathedral was gorgeous! White with green trim and so so much detail!The picture above I edited with my cool app on my phone!

This is the same church just a view of the bell tower.
No the first place we went was the Accademia Gallery which has "The David"Do you see that line? It was insane! It wrapped all around the building! Jon was smart enough to get us a call time to go in so we didn't have to wait forever! Inside the museum we listened to Rick Steve's. He has a lot of travel books and audio tours, so we became real familiar with him on this trip. The highlight of the museum was this guy....
"The David" Now you aren't supposed to take pictures of him, but sneaky little Mark was able to get one, hehe (evil laughter) Now the hall leading to him is lined with Michelangelo's 4 prisoners, and at the end we see David. Now this picture is from a little far away but don't let that make you think this statue is normal sized! It was made to be an outdoors statue (picture below shows where hw stood before moving to the accademia) so he is 16 ft. tall! Huge! Michelangelo took 3 years to complete The David. His stance is one that is not afraid to take on Goliath. It is a very impressive statue. But he is the only thing really worth looking at in the Accademia, that's just my opinion though:)

So here is where David stood for hundreds of years before being moved inside, this place is called, "Piazza della Signoria".

The rest of the pictures in Florence were taken by Mark, he went on a whole city tour! By himself no less! I wanted to take a little nap and the parents wanted to go check out different gelato places. I loved my free time in Florence, after a lovely nap I went to a little outdoor cafe and read my nook and ate the yummiest penne pesto pasta for about 2 hours. Pure bliss!

Another statue
This is a really old bridge, and there are shops on it! And they are actually working shops!

2nd day in Florence
We went on a 12 hour tuscany bus tour! It was SO fun! Our first stop was in Sienna. Now Siena is crazy, let me tell you why. They are just a little city, but they are SO proud! They have a huge rivalry with Florence, because.. they used to be the richest and most prominent city in Tuscany, then Florence started getting more and more power and ruled Sienna for a while, until Siena finally won a battle to keep it. They are a city of bankers, they have the largest bank there, the picture below is the of the bank and the statue is of the man who founded Sienna. Another awesome thing about Siena is The Palio, a horse race that happens twice yearly. Each building complex in the city is a different district with a different animal representing it. For instance the goose, caterpillar, and so on. When you are born into a district, that stays yours forever, even if you move to a different district. This is a HUGE deal, can you say major rivalries? I dare say it is even bigger than the BYU/Utah rivalry. If you district wins the Palio you have bragging rights for half the year and your buildings are crazy decorated so that everyone walking by them knows you won the Palio!
This is the city building, here in the square is where the Palio is held.
They place sand on the bricks so the horses shoes are safe and the course is wound through the square, look it up on youtube, it's insane!
This beautiful church is the Sienna Duomo! And it is GORGEOUS! It was started in the Gothic era and was finished in the Romantic era so it has both architecture on it.

The marbling is SO cool! Look at how it is striped, black marble, white marble, amazing!
Here is a marble floor design inside, remember how I told you that their district animals are important, I wasn't kidding! Here they are on the floor in the church!
Again, look at that Marble columns!! So amazing! Awe inspiring! I would love to have church in here, let's make it an LDS church and we are in!!
This arch was started by Michelangelo. The statue on the right closest to the ground was completely done by him, it's a statue of St. Peter, after that he was called by a guy named the pope to go and paint a little thing called the Sistine Chapel... So his students finished it for him.

This is St. Mary's room, it is the Prayer room. There were a lot of people in there with there rosaries prayin to Mary, the Statue is SO beautiful and was done by Donatello. Another known artist whose work is in this Duomo is Bemini.

Next our bus tour took us to an organic farm to have lunch, now what we were going to be eating was 95% from this farm! And it was delicious!! So fresh and yummy! We had Bruschetta, Meat sauce with parpadelle and Salad. Then a Biscotti for dessert, and of course tons of wine.. (j/k)
This is the farm, it was beautiful! Now I wasn't so much in love with Rome, but oh, TUSCANY! AMAZING!! So gorgeous! And the Sunflowers were in bloom just for us! Fields and Fields of Sunflowers! I am so sad I didn't get any good pictures of them :(
Their Vineyards, and my hot husband
Now the city in the picture below is dubbed as little manhattan by the town folks, cause it has a very similar outline, as you can see! Now this place was our most, most favorite place in Italy! It's called... drum roll please... San Gimignano! It has won most well preserved city cause it has its original city walls and most a lot of its towers.
We realized as we were leaving just why it was our favorite place... other than the beauty and the wonder, it was all pedestrian! No real streets, no cars! Amazing!
The buildings are beautiful and so... European.. Ha!
It also has the world champion gelato place! I don't have a picture of it, what's up with that?! It was SOO delicious, I had a chocolate peach combo. And let me tell you, it was like eating the best peach with decadent chocolate, yummo!!

Now the towers in the picture below used to be used for safety from fighting. They lived in them at the very top so if a battle was coming they could see it and stay far above it. There used to be 70 or so towers in the city, now there are only around 14.
Below Mark and I are sitting on one of these original ancient walls, with beautiful Tuscany behind us, awwhhhh.
Towers in the back ground, we are on top a smaller tower and in a garden of sorts. In this garden was an artist who did water colors and we bought a beautiful painting of the sunflower fields with the rolling tuscan hills! My most favorite buy of the trip!!
Havin fun in the streets!
Now you think we would be So tired by now! All this riding around, and all this walking, but, we weren't! It was so fun that we couldn't be tired! Our next and last stop was a little known town called, Pisa... ok it's more than a little well known. The picture below is the city wall, behind it is the Pisa Duomo and the infamous, Leaning Tower of Pisa!
My buff husband holding up the tower, He's SO STRONG!!
The four of us in front. Family shot!
And the buffness herself, holding up the leaning tower of Pisa. (Please double click on the picture and notice my face, it will be well worth it for you;)
Pretty shot of the tower behind the Duomo. Now let me tell you a little bit about the tower, it was built and then left for 3 years while the builders went to battle. When they came back the tower was leaning! So to try to fix the problem the architect had them start building one side longer, which one gave it a banana effect. But good thing, if it were a normal building, it wouldn't be fanous! The soil is no good in Pisa, little known fact is that a lot of buildings are leaning there!
Our ride home was one of Mark's and my favorite memories. We sat in the front so we had the view out the front windows. We played slug bug with any sedan we saw, since they are SO rare in Europe, we had to punch each others arms and call out what make the car was. It was painful, but so, so much fun!!!