Posts Tagged ‘Florence’

Day 3: Pisa, Florence

Before beginning the rewind across day 3 I must tell you how difficult it was for us to spend foreign currency for the first few days. Especially currency that had like approximately 65 times more value than Indian money. Yeah the Euro stood at 67 Rupees whereas the Pound was at a whopping 77. And obviously the first couple of days we were still thinking in terms of Rupees and converting each Euro to Rupee before spending it. P, especially who is more money conscious than I, found the very thought of spending 134 ‘Rupees’ (2 Euros) for a coffee absolutely horrifying. At the coffee shop,

Me: P, Let’s have coffee here. I’m parched.

P: Ok, let’s check out the prices first. (Gives the menu a glance and jumps like a snake just bit him on the toe)

“What??? A Cappuccino costs 134 Rupees??  What do these people think of themselves?? That we tourists mint money and bring gunny bag loads of it??”

Me: Chill man!! It’s only 2 Euros for them!! They can’t help it if it’s 134 Rupees for you, right?

Now P educates and enlightens me on the importance of being money efficient (I call it MISERLY/STINGY) in an ‘alien country’ (as if Italy was in Mars) for the next 15 minutes, at the end of which I lost all my desire for coffee or even plain water. But not giving up, I played my last trick.

“Ok, fine. I don’t feel like I can drink coffee after you’ve lectured me like this. You don’t have to get me anything. Let’s move”

P: (triumphantly) Good. Let’s move. We’ll find an Autogrill. Cappuccino’s only 1 Euro there.


This happened with coffee, tea, souvenirs, an apple and anything I happened to run my fingers through in any shop. After the 3rd day, P realised he had to stay ever hungry, ever thirsty and return home only with smelly socks and clothes instead of souvenirs if he wasn’t willing to spend more than a euro at a time. And the calculations and conversions stopped there. I finally got my cappuccino!! 🙂

Now that I’m done with the coffee story, yeah, I’ll move on. The third day started with a trip to the quaint town of Pisa, famous world over for its Leaning Tower.It was love at first sight with Pisa. It simply redefined the word ‘quaint’ for me. Lush green meadows, old fashioned slope roofed red brick homes, pond and pools here and there, the place was just ohhhhhhh-sooooo- QUAINT. And then the Leaning tower itself was a beautiful piece of work. The Tower is actually the bell tower attached to a Church. It had started leaning over to one side during construction itself and work on it was stopped for a while but then it was started again and completed over a period of more than 170 years! Today it stands tall and proud, albeit slightly slanted against the backdrop of total greenery and a majestic church. The church and the tower together are so soothing to look at, that one would just lose track of time merely admiring them. Like I did. 🙂


The Church and the Tower

 After they managed to uproot me from the Leaning Tower and get me into the bus, we moved on to Florence. Florence is another city steeped in Art and Science. Florence was THE seat of Renaissance. In most Roman cities, the most important tourist sites that you are taken to visit are 1) Cathedrals 2) Piazzas and Florence was no different. We were to be going to the Santa Maria Del Fiore Cathedral first and I thought, “Another Church?? Wonder how many they have around here!” But after setting eyes on the domed Santa Maria Cathedral, I changed my mind. I would see even a hundred churches if they were all going to be as splendid as this one. This Cathedral was totally magnificent. It is so huge that you can never cover the entire church in a single photograph unless the shot is taken from miles away. The exterior of the church is done in three types of marble – white carara, pink and green and it is said that all the money was spent on doing up the exterior of the Church that not much was left to work with on the interiors. The dome of the Cathedral is a Byzantine beauty and the Church is an eclectic yet beautiful mixture of both Byzantine and Renaissance architecture. Everything in the Cathedral right from the altar to the candle sticks were so artistically done that all I could do was watch wide eyed and dumb struck. Take a look for yourselves.


 A view of the Florence city. The huge dome seen at a distance is the dome of the Santa Maria Del Fiore


A view of the dome from inside

I came out of the Cathedral in a daze but Florence wasn’t going to let me off its grip that easily. We took a walking tour of the city and every single turn I took, every street corner I passed, I was barraged by Florentine Art – marble sculptures, majestic churches, old world museums, renowned paintings, frescos, art work in the open, what not. I was almost reeling when we entered the Piazza Della Signoria. In Italy Piazza stands for a ‘Square’, as in Trafalgar Square or more closer, the M.G.R Square near the Marina: P The Piazza Della Signoria is a large square which has the Fountain of Neptune, a marble sculpted fountain from the 16th century and probably the only functioning Roman acqueduct in the world today, at its centre. At one corner of the Piazza is the Uffizi which is one of the finest museums in the world, housing the renowned works of Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Da Vinci, Donatello, phewwww… As you walk along the road outside the Piazza you find sculptures of Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Sis Isaac Newton and Galileo Galilei doting the streets as casually as you would find statues of politicians along roads way back home. I gasped and almost fell at the feel of a Leonardo sculpture but P had the presence of mind to pull me back. Then there was the Santa Croce Basilica which contains the tombs of, hold your breath again, Galileo, Michelangelo and Machiavelli. Phewwww!! Wait, I need to gulp down some water NOW!! If mere writing about it is so overwhelming, imagine how I must have felt when I actually saw, felt and smelt all these places! When I actually stood in front of Michelangelo’s tomb! Wooooowwwwww!!


The Florence city from a bridge near Piazza della Signoria

I was pretty much a nervous wrecked case of Stendhal Syndrome by the time the tour of Florence was over. I desperately needed a break from heavy duty sightseeing and Venice was going to be that break. So there, see you tomorrow in Venice. Take out your hats and wear your best skirts. Off we are to Venice!!   

P.S: Forgot to mention that I had pizza in Pisa (he he it rhymes!). I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Italian pizzas have really thin bases more like our stuffed naans, and are yummmmyyyy!!! Our 2-inch-thick-seemingly-rubber-base pizza hut guys would do well to learn it right from the Italians.

P.S.S: Was also surprised to see our very own ‘Bata’ shop snuggled in between Ferragamo and Gucci in Florence!! Didn’t know that Bata was such an international brand!


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