Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Monday, Our Last Day in Florence

Monday morning we visited the Duomo, the cathedral which sits at the center of Florence. The museums are all closed on Monday, so we decided to save it for our last day. Saturday Dan bought the tickets for the Duomo and its associated things (Baptistry, Giotto Tower). 

We found conflicting times of opening, 8:30 or 10:00. So we went at 8:30 and went to the reserved door. There was only one couple ahead of us. When we got in through the turnstile, we realized this was the entrance to the stairs to the top of the dome and there was no way to go into the cathedral at all. I hesitated, then said what the heck and started up. It was a long way — 436 steps. The first part was squared around a circle, so pretty easy. Then it turned into a circular one, which was much harder for me. I finally got to the balustrade around the bottom of the dome but didn’t realize that the climb went on to the very top at the cupola. At one point we came to an exit and I almost left — the woman there told me there were 180 more steps. I caught my breath (not easy!) and decided I’d try it. The staircase got narrower but there were railings now. One wall was curved inward, as we were nearing the top of the dome. Dan carried my sticks so I could use both hands on the railings. The last bit was almost a ladder. But the views were incredible. It was such an amazing sensation to be up there. I couldn’t believe I made it (Dan didn’t either!). Coming down was a little hairy/scary. I did the first part backward because the steps were so steep, but the rest went pretty well. On the circular part I could touch both the wall and the center pillar to keep my balance. I’m so glad I did it! 

Looking up inside the dome
Down into the cathedral from the balustrade
Giotto tower from cupola
Proof that we did it!
San Lorenzo church, train station on the left, our hotel between them
One view of the stairs

Once we were down, we went into the Baptistery, which is under reconstruction. The museum is closed for renovation, so we didn’t get to see the Ghiberti doors. I had no interest in the cathedral by that point (and it wasn’t open yet—that’s what was happening at 10:00), just wanted to get back to the room and lie down for a while. And Dan wasn’t too interested in climbing Giotto’s Tower, which we had already seen from above. After a shower and a bit of a rest, we headed out a couple of blocks to a laundromat so we can travel to Venice with clean clothes. We take the train at 11:30 on Tuesday. 

Stained glass window from the church on display in the Baptistry. It's been completely taken apart and restored bit by bit.
Ceiling in the Baptistry
An example of how restoration work is done -- make a covering that mimics the actual building.
For our last dinner in Florence, we went a bit further from the hotel and found a good place.

Vegetarian spaghetti carbonara with zucchini

Cannelloni stuffed with ricotta (what I call manicotti)


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