Wendy Bass

Carmel High School

Carmel Clay Schools

520 East Main Street (Map It!)

Carmel, IN 46032

(317) 846-7721 ext. 7244

Carmel Clay Schools

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Follow this link to see pictures of my trip... http://msgstriptoeurope.shutterfly.com/pictures#n_5

Florence, Italy

It wasn’t raining when I got up this morning. Yay! My walking tour of Florence started at 9:30. There was so much to take in that I can’t possibly remember it all so I just tried to take in the sights and experience as much as possible. We started the tour on Ponte Vecchio, the oldest bridge in Florence. It was built in 1345, 3 years before the plague. Small parts of it have been changed through the years as different rulers took control, but it remains essentially the same today. One of the biggest changes is that when it was originally built the merchants along the bridge sold meat. As they cleaned the meat they threw the “extra” pieces over the bridge into the Arno. Clearly this smelled terrible and eventually the duchess who lived downstream banned the sale of meat and said that only gold and silver could be sold on the bridge. This is still true today. From there we walked along the Arno to the Galleria degli Uffizi and Palazzo Vecchio to take in the sculptures. On we walked to the Piazza del Duomo to see the Cathedral of Santa Maria del  Fiore. The guided tour was totally worth the money to have the history explained along the way! Yesterday I learned that daVinci helped in the completion of the dome on the Cathedral.  His 3-speed hoist was used to place the golden cupola and cross on the top along with other machines for the placement of the blocks.   The diameter of the dome is 45 meters (~120 feet) which is 3 meters more than the Pantheon in Rome. When the church was built they actually didn’t even know how they would finish dome… it was too big! A contest was held to find a suitable solution for the roofless building. From there we took a break for some gelato and then headed to the Galleria dell Academia to see Michelangelo’s David. The realism in the sculpture is stunning. You actually see the veins and bones “under” the marble. The guide pointed out that David is positioned so he is looking toward Rome, Florence’s “Goliath.” This was then end of my tour so I made my way across town to the train station to go to Pisa. I couldn’t get there fast enough because the rain had started again this time in sheets! I was drenched by the time my train left even though I had an umbrella.

Pisa, Italy

I visited Pisa because both Galileo and Fibonacci studied there. When I got off the train I stated talking to American students, Ana Rose from Virginia and Steph from Florida. They are living in Sienna for the summer studying Italian. Ana Rose was quite fluent in Italian. Not only was it nice to have a translator for the afternoon it was just plain fun to hear her switch back and forth between the languages. Steph had only been in Italy for a few days so she wasn’t as confident. I have no doubt she’ll be chatting it up by the end of summer. We ended spending the entire afternoon together slowing making our way towards the Piazza dei Miracoli (The Miracle Square). We stopped for a simple lunch, and I picked up a traditional sweet Italian treat for the boys. The sun was shining and finally dried me out from the rain in Florence so I was grateful for that simple joy. The bell tower in the square leans at a 5 degrees and is 15 feet off the vertical axis (according to Ana Rose and Steph’s favorite book… Rick Steve’s Travel guide!). Five degrees and 15 feet don’t sound like much until you see it in person… It is amazing! We took all the cheesy tourist pictures and had a blast. The square also contains the Composanto (a walled cemetery) and the Baptistery. I didn’t go into the Baptistery but did walk through the Composanto. I was looking for the statue to commemorate Fibonacci (which I found), but I was blown away by the frescos throughout the entire structure. Many of them are currently being restored but enough are there to get a good idea of what it must have once looked like. It was time to head back to the train station. Ana Rose wanted to stop for gelato. We stopped at the most popular gelateria (according to Rick Steve J) and I will say it was the best I’ve had so far. Yes, if you’re keeping track this was my second gelato of the day. Good thing I’ve been walking a lot! I made it back to my hotel about 7:30. I left that morning at about 8:30 so I was dead on my feet. It was a good kind of tired though.