September 16, 2014

My Favorite Spots in Florence

If I remember correctly our second and last full day was on a Sunday. I only remember this because I had planned to climb the Duomo of the Florence Cathedral but in my lack of planning found it to be closed. Bummed but not heartbroken my travel buddy Megan and I took to the city in search of the perfect, delizioso Italian meal.

We headed back to the square, Piazza della Republica where we had met with the group the night before. We spotted a cute outdoor cafe that was bustling with people so we figured it must be a good find. 

Under the shade of the cafe canopy we ordered the best Italian spaghetti and lasagna from a very amusing waiter. 

Italian men are quick witted and charming--at least our waiter was. At one point he swiftly walked by and with a smirk and a nod toward another waiter said, "He's married, I saw you looking. And that one? don't even think about it--he's gay!" which left Megan and I in a bout of giggles. 

They know how to entertain their tourists! They also don't hound you. We were left alone to enjoy our meal but not in a way that we felt neglected. It was the perfect dining experience.

After eating we walked across the square to the next hot spot on our list, Gilli's. It's apparently the oldest cafe in Florence. We figured that would be the best place to have a proper Italian espresso and let me tell you, it was love at first sip!

We tamed our fancy drinks with some milk and I had a coffee. Talk about wide awake! 

While sipping at the bar we watched the bartender mix some incredible iced coffee drinks and sparkling fruity concoctions bubbling over with Prosecco. 

In need of a little exercise to keep up with our caffeine high we walked underneath the clear sky to the Cathedral of Florence, Il Duomo di Firenze. Even though climbing to the top of the Duomo was closed, we were still allowed to enter the church.

The church is known for being constructed with a plain interior so as to not distract worshipers from the true purpose of being in the church. It's also why the marble exterior is so grand and extravagant. 

It was more plain in comparison but there were still some features that I would consider to be anything but plain.

For our last tourist spot of the day we walked through the cobblestoned streets to Galleria dell'Accademia to see the real David statue by Michelangelo. 

When we arrived at the museum the line was wrapped around the building. Standing in the hot and unforgiving sun seemed like the last thing we wanted to do, but we learned that admission is free on the 1st Sunday of the month. 

So we waited. First we felt a bit like melting popsicles and as the half hour made its way to the hour we then began to feel dehydrated and delirious. Might've overdone it on the caffeine! The loud, pushy Italian family behind us in line did not make the experience any more pleasurable. After what felt like ages the line all of sudden took off like a eurostar and we made it in!

David was well. worth. the. wait. I don't think I have ever been more captivated by art especially for a sculpture. Dare I even say I loved it more than seeing my precious Degas and Van Gogh's in Paris?!

The accuracy and detail of David's body is simply amazing. Most artists from the same period over exaggerated the male figures muscles and made them look more Greek God-esque (It's a thing). Michelangelo is praised for being ahead of his time in that he really studied the human anatomy and created a beautifully realistic piece of art.

After staring for what might've been longer than necessary we walked around the rest of the museum which took us all of about 5 minutes. It's a small place. We did also get to see the famous Rape of the Sabines statue.

Thoroughly tired from our jam packed day we headed to the nearest bus stop for the line back to our hotel. Not without grabbing some gelato first though to cool down.

Later on that evening we had a group dinner and since Rome was our next stop (and final departure city for some of our group) a bunch of us rallied and raced back to the same club we'd been in the night before.

Literally raced to beat the cutoff time for paying cover!

We danced into the night but weariness settled in much quicker than the night before. I'm exhausted just thinking about the day, but grinning over my wonderful memories made in Firenze.

September 15, 2014

Fall is for Football

My very best friend lives in Columbus which is close enough for visiting but just far away enough that visits don't happen that often. It's awful.

Luckily Miss Natalie scored us some tickets to the event of the (almost) Fall season here in Ohio.... Buckeye football. Saturday I drove up much to early for my liking, but that's what friends are for, eh?

Our motto was #herefortheband and it turns out we were at the perfect game to support our fellow musicians as it was Alumni Band weekend! We checked out TBDBITL's pregame concert and were blown away by the alumni and current members alike!

OSU's marching band really does their job well and gets every spectator, bandos or not, involved and amped up!

Back in The Shoe, we settled snuggly onto our A Deck bleacher seats (a steal these were!) and watched OSU crush Kent State. Poor little MAC team. From a MAC school myself, I empathized with Kent, but was loving the buckeye energy.

I'll be honest I'm not a buckeye junkie and football is not my favorite sport--too much stop and go. However, I love just about any sport live because the experience isn't only about the game. The tasty smells drawing you to the concessions and the roar of the forever loyal fans are some of my favorite bits about going to a game. 

We welcomed those scents of freshly popped popcorn and smokey barbecue meats and made our way to the concessions before halftime. It was a bratwurst for me.

As I mentioned before OSU's band is highly entertaining. It's the kind of entertainment that captures your attention and pleases everyone no matter what individual taste may be.

Their halftime show included the alumni band and honored the armed forces. Known for their intricate animations on the field, the band members pulled off some clever work to represent each branch. My favorite was the plane for the Air Force.

As a band so richly steeped in tradition, it of course would not have been a halftime show without making script Ohio. There were 4 going on at once since there were so many alumni and it was amazing to watch!

Once the players came back I'll admit watching a blowout game got a little boring. It was a gorgeous day out so we managed through 3rd quarter and then left to beat the mass exodus to happen at the end of the game.

I love game day atmosphere's and my second experience in The Shoe did not disappoint.

After the game we headed to the Short North area to chat more over food. Natalie took me to a place called Pint House. The food was decent but the ambience and crazy beer selection is what really draws people in.

I got excited when I saw Hofbrau Dunkel on the menu but it wasn't currently on tap anymore. I settled on a summery favorite and ordered Oberon with my mac & cheese.

Natalie went for a black bean burger which we're pretty sure was just a frozen patty. You live and ya learn.

As if we hadn't eaten enough for the day we headed to Columbus favorite, Jeni's, for some ice cream. I had espresso and salted caramel which was insanely good! 

With full and happy bellies we finished up our outing by popping into some of the unique shops in the area. 

I wished to buy one of everything I saw especially from the fancy paper store we stopped in.

When I visit Columbus I always wish I could stay a bit longer. Big love to my forever roomie, Natalie!

September 10, 2014

4th of July in Florence

I forgot to mention that our day in Venice was on the 4th of July. It's funny even now how it was just another normal day to everyone around us.

Luckily we were still in the mood to celebrate so after leaving Venice we headed to Florence. Our hotel was a little outside of the city. Instead of heading into the city center for the evening, we stayed nearby and had dinner at a pizza place.

Decked out in red, white, and blue glow bracelets we headed next door after dinner for drinks and a little obnoxious rowdy American fun. Apparently we weren't as obnoxious as we thought because the young Italian guys running the bar certainly gave us a night to remember! They joined in on our American fun, cranked the music, and poured drinks all around the bar. They were wild!

A fun night behind us, we got up the next morning and started our day with a guided walk around the city. It wasn't my favorite city tour, but the upside to any tour is to get a good layout of the land and scope out the places you hope to visit on your own.

We met our guide at the Santa Croce Church, the great Michelangelo's final resting place!

It was interesting to learn about the Florentine greats and the ancient history dating way back to the time of the Romans which have made Florence the artistic city it is today.

We ended our tour in the Piazza della Signoria where the famous David replica stands in original David's spot. 

The Italian sun was scorching and we all know the cure to an Italian heatstroke is some gelato. Megan and I rested up with a little shopping and made note of sights we wanted to visit the next day when we had more time. 

Later that evening our guide Claudia took us to a club where she knew the owner and he let us in with no cover charge. A small group of us grabbed some pizza slices and beer on the go for dinner before meeting up with the whole group. We had a blast dancing the night away! 


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