Thursday, May 21, 2009


Today has been such a nice, relaxing day. We started off with our American breakfast! Matt had coffee this morning. Not even half of the cup was coffee; the other half was milk and sugar because it is so strong here.

We boarded our Perillo bus at 8:10 this morning and headed over to the Academy of Fine Arts. This is basically the housing place for the works of Michelangelo. When we first got to the area and were walking down the street we were quickly told not to buy anything from the street vendors because it is illegal in Florence. I didn’t really know what to think because yesterday in Venice there were lots of vendors on the street with decent products. Well these people were distinguishable to say the least. They walked right up to you and pulled out all their crappy pictures and random gadgets. They just stood there and displayed everything to you. But then if a police officer or sirens were seen or heard, they picked up faster than anything I have ever seen and ran away. It was hilarious!

While in the Academy of Fine Arts we were able to see the unfinished works of Michelangelo. So sorry, once again… no pictures allowed. There were about 6 unfinished statues. Why were they unfinished you ask? Well we thought the same thing. Basically he was just so cool that two popes just kept commissioning him to do work (ie the Sistine Chapel) so he did not have time to finish his statues. At the end of the gallery stood “David”, 15 feet tall and simply indescribable. We were able to hear the history behind the statue and see all the imperfections and perfections that Michelangelo put into this work of art.

Michelangelo was commissioned to build “David” after the Florentines won their independence back from the French. It was to be something meaningful and sentimental to all. The story that we heard today (which Matt and Alan, our Canadian did not agree with) was that Michelangelo chose David from David and Goliath to be his muse. Such a young boy with confidence and bravery who defeated the giant. He carries in his right hand a stone and in his left, the slingshot. Michelangelo also chose a block of marble that had been rejected. It is theorized why, some say its because he wanted a challenge, others because he could see that David was already in there and just needed to come out, and still others say its because the marble was bruised and battered but could still be something great, just like the Florentines. One thing that was really neat about this statue is that everything is anatomically correct. You could see the veins in the arms and hands and even the muscles in their flexed state. It was amazing to see the detail that was in the sculpture. We also learned that because the marble was not perfect, there were already two big gouges. One was in the area of the right hand and the other was at the legs. When you see the sculpture up close the right hand looks exceptionally large and disproportional. This has also been theorized about. It could stand for the right hand of God, it could be just because he had to due to the gouge there, it could be anything, no one knows.

Next we walked down to the piazza or square. Note that we’re picking up on Italian pretty good… we’re prepping for when we move here. Hahahaha! At the square were the Cathedral, Giotto’s Tower, and Baptistry. The walls were all made of marble. Inside the church was more of the magnificent marble flooring and beautiful stained glass windows. And for once we were actually allowed to take pictures! Haha. The dome above the alter was painted with the life of Christ. Apparently you can walk all the way to the top of Giotto’s tower, over 500 steps and 30 minutes one way. Um, so yeah… we didn’t go up there. The door to the Baptistry was decorated with 10 gold dipped plates (the original gold has been replaced and hidden away). Each plate was a different depiction of the Old Testament.
Next we walked down to some other piazza in front of some kind of castle. Matt and I along with the Canadians weren’t really paying attention at this point. We were having more fun just walking around and taking our own pictures. But in this square was a giant statue/fountain of Neptune along with the other Michelangelo greats, or well copies of them at least.

Once we finished here we were treated to another great opportunity. It would have been even more awesome if we had money. Haha. We went into C.O.I, wholesale gold store. Because we were with Perillo we qualified for 20% off of everything! The entire store was made with 18 k gold, nothing less. The jewelry here was stunning. If we would have had you know, an extra 500 euros lying around I would have totally gotten a bracelet. And Matt would have gotten the 200 euro cross that he liked. Eh- maybe next time.

After this private tour, we got a private tour of a leather shop. Italian leather is apparently the best in the world. Well we finally saw why. Everything was so incredibly soft and just gorgeous. We received 10% off every purchase and free 18 k gold leaf letters pressed into anything purchased. We got our own little show too. They took a few from our group and outfitted them with some jackets and coats. We had a ball with our fashion show and I saw the cutest jacket… it was of course 870 euros so that stayed in the store. Hahaha! But they had everything from bags, jackets, belts, to wallets, key chain holders, shoes, and even golf ball/tee holders. This was a very very neat store. And we did come away with a few items so we’ll be sure to show them off when we get home. (Plus I got to use my new initials for the first time!!!)

After the leather store, Matt and I have had the rest of the afternoon off. This has given us time to blog for today and even post pictures on yesterdays blog. Y’all can finally see what we’re up to! Tonight we will have dinner at the hotel. (Hopefully not too many courses) Then we are thinking we will check out the nightlife and head down to the square.

Tomorrow we board the bus to Napoli or Naples. It will be a very long drive so we may not post tomorrow as driving is all we will be doing. Maybe we’ll just take that time to put more pictures up. We’ll see.

Love you all!

Matt and Hillary

Josh and Megan - we totally had a couple of pirate moments today and thought of you. Hope you enjoy these pirate boots and jacket! (Sorry that the jacket is sideways)


  1. Well, Hillary, you are of a type of Mediterranean descent... Your Dad's Grandma Brown was Syrian... just on the other side of the ocean from Italy!

  2. You are doing an excellent job of giving us our own little mini guided tour! It's obvious you're having a wonderful time and seeing some awesome sights. And you have several days of fun and adventure left!! Until the next posting .......


  3. YAY to pirate boots and a jacket Gyarrrr!