Our first day in Florence, which was supposed to be jam-packed with sightseeing, was a mild failure. By the time we got our shit together, we really only had time to visit one spot. So we headed next door to the cathedral.
The church itself is very beautiful of course, but the main attraction is really the dome (it’s nicknamed the Duomo, after all), so we decided to climb up there. Apparently, when the cathedral was being built, they didn’t yet have the technology or architectural know-how to build a dome this large, so they just left a hole for the time being, confident that someone would invent a way to build a dome that big. And sure enough, someone did!
This was by far our craziest climb so far. The stairs were never-ending (463 total). And as we got higher, the stairs got steeper, narrower and darker. I almost had a panic attack (again). The climb up was exhausting, the climb down was terrifying – it was an altogether traumatic experience!
But I must admit, the views from the top were worth it.
Our next mission was to find an ATM because I had no cash and was getting tired of asking Daniela for money. We finally found one, but of course it was in the sun, so the metal keys were all scalding hot and you could barely read the screen. Oh, and the instructions were all in Italian. Somehow, I managed to navigate the screens well enough to withdraw some money.
After all that dicking around, pretty much all the other attractions were closed. So we just did our traditional first-day-walk-around-town.
First, we stopped by the Piazza S.S. Annunziata, a plaza behind the Gallerie Academia that Rick Steves recommended. Then we strolled around San Marco church.
Next, we headed back towards the river to see the Ponte Veccho. It was very nice, but unbearably hot. But we did see a photo shoot for some brides and grooms. At first we thought it was an actual wedding shoot, but then there were several couples and it just seemed like a fashion shoot or something. But then again, the people weren’t all that attractive, so I deduced that it must be one of those magazine features where they spotight real-life couples who are about to get married. But that’s all besides the point.
After crossing the bridge, packed with gold shops and tourists, we walked back towards the Uffizi Museum, which has a courtyard full of statues of famous guys. You know, guys like Donatello, Galileo, DaVinci…
Just past the Uffizi, is the Piazza della Signoria which has some cool, well-known sculptures (including a copy of Michelangelo’s David, “The Rape of the Sabine Women,” and “Perseus with the Head of Medusa“) and a huge fountain.