Monday, 31 December 2007

One more day of oohhs and aahs !!

The flourishing city is about an hour and half from Pisa. We hopped down from the train, located our hotel (only after the traditional getting lost ritual). The rooms were much better that those in Rome. After a bit of freshening up, we set out to explore the city.

Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as the Duomo is the most beautiful church I have seen till now. You have to see the intricate work on the exterior to admire the builder's art. The Duomo along with its bell tower makes an impressive sight.
Since it was already evening when we came to Duomo, we decided to visit again the next morning.

As you might have guessed that we are not the kind who learn from our previous mistakes. To prove this we again decided to board a local transport bus to go to a happening shopping place of Florence.

The board at the bus stop showed that our destination is two stops away. So as soon as the bus stopped at the second stop we hopped down only to see a dark place with no lights and no sign of people. It turned out that the boards at the bus stops display only the major stops on the way and not all stops. With choice words for the Italian transportation system, we waited for another bus to turn up and with our trademark hand gestures, asked the driver to drop us off at the intended destination.

Once we alighted at the place,we seriously got down to the business at hand i.e, peer through the shop windows and look at the display cases. There were a lot of amazing things to be bought and we spent about an hour looking at things which were out of my reach metaphorically.

Then we decided to visit the
Piazzale Michelangelo

We walked along the bank of river Arno which flows in the middle of Florence. The bank has a whole lot of buildings on one side and formed a pretty picture in the night. We walked along clicking photos and exclaiming ooh!, aahs! looking at the photo. (This is something which I don't understand.People rather than experience what they are seeing, take much pains to capture it in to a tiny photograph and admire the photograph. The same goes for the videos too. In the process to getting everything in a photo, we fail to enjoy what we are seeing through eyes. That's why I leave all the photographing to my friends and enjoy the view while my friends bend in awkward angles to get the picture right. Also not owning a camera helps...)

We climbed over a hill and arrived at the Piazzale breathless (reminder to self: check your physical condition, before you turn in to a slob). The Piazzale is a big squear on the top of a hill. Its dedicated to Michelangelo (who along with Leonardo Da Vinci heads my list of people who created masterpieces as they had nothing better to do). There is a replica of
David (the most famous sculpture of Michelangelo, which at the end of the day is just a statue of a naked man standing tall and not shy about it. Well that's art for you.Abstract, aloof and sometimes absurd). The Piazzale offers a great view of the city below and we saw most of the major landmarks of the city from up there.

We then took a bus down (it was easy this time as our destination was the last stop on the route). Then we began our hunt for food.We were not expecting to find pav-bhaji or Masala Dose. But hoped for a decent food which doesn't involve Pizza or Pasta in its name. We began checking out the menus on display out side the restaurants and it turned out that the restaurants did not offer what we needed and we did not need what the restaurants offered.

We were standing in front of a restaurant deriding the menu and the food of Italy in general when the waitress of the restaurant opened the door to call us in. One look and I started to enter the joint right away (It was the closest I came to being hit by a 'thunderbolt' in Italy) .

My friends called out from back (they had not seen the waitress yet)

'hey !...this joint offers only pasta and pizzas'

I responded back 'That's ok' (still following the waitress)

My friends 'But you are fed up of pasta and pizza' (They still had not seen the waitress)
I replied 'No, they are the greatest food in world'

By this time, my friends too had seen the cute waitress and came to unanimous decision that there is nothing better than a pizza or pasta and came in with sheepish grin on their faces.

The tables for some reason had table clothes with a cartoon of two kids learning the basic fact of life (picture on the left)(From what I saw the girl kid was taking the new information philosophically, but the boy had this look of bewilderment on his face and . But you might say nothing new there..).All I can say is it was a wonderful evening. We had a great time. The waitress was charming (no wonder a certain someone fell for an Italian waitress and the rest as you all know is history). We even got a photo with her (when we asked her to pose with us for a photo, she came back with a bit of make up and all eager to pose. But my friend in all his infinite wisdom ordered her to get a bottle of water. The look on her face was like 'what are these morons up to?. They tell me to pose for a photo and then when I am ready they tell me to get water'). And by the way we had some food too (same old pasta...but it tasted great if you know what I mean). The waitress had the last laugh when she presented the bill and saw the look on our face (have you ever heard of
'Cover Charge' ?..not me until now).

After bidding good bye to our friend at the restaurant we called it a day (but it was night actually...English is a very phunny language you see).

The next day (Christmas day) we ventured out of our hotel only find deserted streets populated only by over excited tourists. If the Duomo was impressive at night, during day it was spectacular. The carvings on marble has to be seen to be believed. Then we visited the Piazza della Signoria which is in front of Palazzo Vecchio. This square has some amazing statues like the 'Fountain of Neptune' , Judith and Holofernes,Perseus with the head of Medusa, Hercules and the centaur and various other masterpieces. From all these statues, I infer that the ancient Romans and Greeks were not too keen in dressing up decently or the sculptors of these statues were dirty old men with perverse taste. The line between art and porn is ever so thin.

As we were running out of time, we bid goodbye to one of the beautiful cities and then climbed on a train to pay a visit to the ..
'Queen of the Adriatic'

PS: The chronicles of an Intrepid Traveller will continue (I am sure you are sick of it by this time, but as any self respecting tourist would do, its my duty to bore you with my misadventures)

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