Love in the Eternal City Part 3: A Trip to Florence

Date of Travel: May 09, 2010

The next morning the Captain, his parents, M, and I sat in the lobby waiting for the cab that would take us to the station where we would board a train to Florence. I stood up and peered outside the window and watched the rain fall from the clouds. It had rained everyday since our arrival and I grew a bit concerned – I usually don’t mind the rain and even enjoy storms from time to time, but the thought of getting my wedding gown wet and dirty during the photo session didn’t sit well with me. It was, after all, the most important dress I would ever wear in my life. As we waited more unpleasant thoughts came to mind – there was still so much I needed to do in Rome and I was running out of time. Also, I felt a little guilty for leaving my family while I joined the Captain and his parents in Florence. It was my family’s first time in Italy and it had been a long time since our last family vacation. My sister and I were just children the last time my parents took us on an international trip with them. Even though I did my best to keep them entertained by arranging tours while I was away I still felt a little sad that I wouldn’t be there. Who knew when we would all be together again in a new country? Little did I know that the Captain and I would get ample time with my folks in another beautiful locale less than a year later; and soon the ancient wonders of one of the true cities of enlightenment would put all my doubts and fears to rest.

The taxi cab finally arrived interrupting my reverie and soon we were on our way to the Roma Termini Station. The train station was large and intimidating, complete with people who looked just as lost as we did. The first train that we approached wasn’t the one we were taking to Florence so we had to continue searching. By this time we were already running late, so of course by Murphy’s Law our train would be the one farthest from us – located on the opposite end. While the Captain, his father, and M sped quickly to the train I slowed down to walk with the Captain’s mother who was having trouble keeping up. She was struggling with her knee problems so I offered my arm and we walked to the train together. Once we were on board we took our seats and the ride went by smoothly.

I enjoyed looking out the window and watched as the scenery changed. I had always wanted to go to Florence and was happy to be on my way. Visions of the Duomo (Cathedral of Santa Maria dei Fiori) with it’s famous dome and bell tower filled my mind as I thought about Florence. Aside from the Duomo I also thought about its many historic museums such as the Uffizi and Academy galleries where one can go to admire Michelangelo’s David.

When we arrived at the train station in Florence the Captain and I immediately went looking for food. We found a fast food place and ordered it to go because my mother in law was in pain and wanted to go directly to the hotel. The Captain and I walked and ate at the same time admiring the magnificent buildings we passed.

While walking the streets of Florence we quickly noticed how much the city differed from Rome – the architecture was different and so was the atmosphere. Florence seemed to give off a more relaxed vibe. As we passed by various shops the Captain spotted a currency exchange and was pleased to see that they carried the monetary unit that he had been searching everywhere for. At this time I still had no idea where we were going for our honeymoon so out of curiosity I tried to get a glimpse of the currency they carried. The Captain anticipated my move and led me away. Three buildings later there was another currency exchange so I tried to peek but as I got closer a tall woman started stretching in front of the sign, blocking my view. “She will get her check in the mail.” the Captain joked. He had been planning the honeymoon for months and wanted to reveal the location on the night before our wedding during dinner. By then the suspense was killing me!

Brunelleschi Hotel was where we stayed in Florence. It is a gorgeous hotel located in the historical downtown area overlooking the famous cathedral by Brunelleschi. I was very impressed! The Captain, his parents, M, and myself spent a few minutes resting before making plans to check out the city. The Captain’s mother decided to stay in the hotel room because her knee was still sore, but let us site see without her. Since we were leaving the next day we wanted to see as many landmarks as we could.

Accompanying us to the Duomo was the Captain’s father, as we made our way up the 463 steps to get to the very top I joked with him how I was so wrong to think that I was in shape. Climbing up those vertiginous stairs will make you feel less fit. We went to the very top and took several pictures. The view of Florence from above is spectacular and definitely worth seeing!

After taking several pictures we went back to the hotel to discuss dinner plans. The Captain’s parents stayed and ate at the hotel while the Captain, M, and I checked out the city. M had previously stayed in Florence for quite some time so she knew a lot of places to check out. Hanging out with M made me feel like a local and we had a lot of fun! First we had dinner, walked around to an Irish Pub, went to a geletaria, and hung out on the bridge atop the Arno River where M regaled us with stories about her time in Florence. Before heading back to the hotel we watched a rock band play on the square located right across from the Brunelleschi.

By the time M and I got back to our room it was late, but we still weren’t tired. We goofed around and somehow I ended up finding an unlocked door in our room that lead to nowhere. It was quite entertaining! I’m lucky to have a great friend like M, it’s too bad that we both live in different states.

The next morning the Captain and I went to Sunday mass at the Duomo and then met up with M and his parents to see the sites. Our first stop was the Uffizi Gallery where we saw one of the finest assemblies of renaissance masterpieces in the western world. Da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo all have some of their finest work displayed within the Uffizi’s ancient walls. With pieces such as Sandro Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Leonardo da Vinci’s The Adoration of the Magi, it is no wonder the Uffizi is considered one of the finest art galleries on the planet. While M and I were walking around my cell phone rang. On the other line was T, a long time friend of the Captain’s, who informed me that he and his guest wouldn’t be arriving that night due to the volcano. T is also an airline pilot so he and his friend used his travel benefits to get to Rome, but instead ended up in London where the plane diverted. Turns out T and his guest weren’t the only ones stranded somewhere due to the Icelandic Volcano – M’s family were stuck too. I tried to not think too much about it and hoped that things would work out.

Before heading back to Rome we went to the Basilica of Santa Croce where we saw the tombs of several illustrious Italians such as Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli. Having seen their words in famous texts (The Prince), basked in the effortless reality of their sculptures (The Pieta), and read about their deeds, it was almost surreal to be at their final resting place. These legends of the past suddenly became very real.

We arrived in Rome later that evening feeling exhausted, but the day wasn’t over yet. Once we arrived at the Hotel Raphael I had to collect my belongings and move to a new one. Our reception was to take place at the Atlante Star Hotel’s rooftop restaurant Les Etoiles so I thought that it would be easier for me to stay there. After checking in and going to my room I started getting ready for a night on the town with our guests and counted down the days till I would officially become Mrs. Captain.

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