Sunday, 26 October 2014


Florence is THE place to see art - we had no real idea about art nor Florence, but we did know enough to book our tickets for all the museums in advance, so by the time it came to see the statue of David, we just walked right in. I was a bit sad to see that at the entrance, it stated "No photography", but was super super excited to see that they relaxed that in the area where David is placed. It's in this, kind of rotunda which has all this beautiful light.
And it seemed a shame to come all this way and not take any photos. I remember from last time, that just off to the right was this great room full of scultped heads of famous people - I loved the museum! We had a great time in Florence, but sadly soon it was time to come back to Frankfurt!

Art at the Uffuzi

Josh and I know nothing about art, especially historical art - but we do know that Florence is the place to see it all. They have all sorts of great museums, so on our second day we headed over to the Uffuzi museum (which is a great name, I must say!). There were lots of lines
to get through the security, but after that, we had no problems. We were really fortunate in that it wasn't particularily busy, and that we were also able to follow another English speaking tour group around. So at least, we got to know a little about the art in the museum. And there is just so,
so, so much art. If you wanted to spend any time looking at any time then you could be there for days! The best room was all cornered off, and it was this red walled, huge ceiling room which was like an octagon - it was full to the brim with statues and paintings and priceless gifts from around
the world - it was great! But noone could go in - it was just one opening for us to stop and pop our heads in! I also loved all the carved statue heads - rows and rows of great craftsmanship that we certainly don't see nowadays!

View over Tuscany

Right at the top of these gardens, on our walk out, we came across this random tea cup museum. I could have bet money on the fact that Josh wouldn't want to go in it, so instead we just looked at the gardens around it. To be fair, it was October, and they weren't the best -
but they would be by springtime. However, what caught our eye to go up there was this beautiful view over the side, over Tuscany. It has really been on my bucketlist to visit Tuscany so I was excited to see those cool vertical trees! The sun was really starting to set, so we headed back into town to go to this awesome restaurant in the city. We had a great dinner (almost all our food was great in Italy), and made a mad dash through all these little tiny alleys searching for a toilet for me before heading back out of the city to our tiny B an B!

The view from the Bartoli Gardens

We headed off on one of the side roads in the gardens, which went on further up the hill. There was this little...almost tower and a big sloping field with the most amazing view of the city. I am so glad we decided to walk over there - because it was the most amazing
view. So in the nice, low afternoon sun - we sat on the grassy knoll and just watched the sun set over the city. It was one of the nicest places I have sat in the world - just us and this beautiful view.

Boboli Gardens

We stumbled across these gardens, kind of by accident. They are set up out of the city - and we wandered over there one afternoon- with really not a lot of time to spare. There were tons of steps, and a long way around, but eventually we made it to these gardens. They looked very small and inconspicuous at first, part of a garden on the back of a pretty house. Eventually, we realised that there were all sorts of side inslets and side gardens to the main gardens, so off we wandered!

Ponte Vecchio

At the end of the main road in Florence, where all the shops are, there is this adorable little bridge with all sorts of covered shops - and I would say ninety percent of them were jewellery shops. We didn't buy anything but did walk along the sides of the river , behind all the art museums. It was so pretty there!

Palazza Vecchio

Florence has the prettiest town hall I've ever seen. It's so pretty.It is really one of the more important places in Italy, so they say. We tried to go inside, as it has all sorts of pretty paintings along the walls, but it was all under construction, which was a shame. It also has a copy of Michealangelo's statue of David out front, which is a big hit with the tourists! It's one of my favourite places because there is a Venchi right nearby! We were able to get this shot from one of the museums nearby - it gave us a great view of the square and the town hall too!

The Duomo

THE THE THE place to go in Florence is the Duomo - this giant church in the middle of Florence. It is this huge, huge cathedral sized building covered in all sorts of these marble chunks - like a giant mosaic. And it's so incredible! It shines so brightly and white in the sunlight and it just rises out of the square so large. On one side of the square there are all these little cafes and such, and the other side is just....very normal! I really loved doing this
big three hundred and sixty of the whole place - seeing the difference between the front, which is jam packed with tourists, and the back, which is just - so different. Florence was so different than Rome - a really different style than Rome - all the buildings
and such. We went to the inside of the church, and it was very basic and plain on the inside. I was quite shocked by how different it was. We did't pay to go up to the top of the Duomo tower - but I was able to read that it is the largest brick roof like it in the world. It really was pretty impressive. On all our walking about in Florence, we ended up here in front of it again and again - it really was kind of the centre of everything!

Santa Maria Novella, Florence

The next morning we took a train from the main station to Florence. It was easy to get to the train station - but it was very. very busy - but we made it. Once we got to Florence, it was a nightmare. We really didn't know where our next B and B was - and it seemed no one else did either! In the end,
we got a taxi to our bed and breakfast very, very far out of town. We settled in and made our way back into town on the bus - which turned out to be our best mode of transport. Just next to the bus station was this amazing church - with the same name as the train station - so we knew it must be important!

The Coluseeum at night

We enjoyed the Borghese Park and headed back into town for a nap and then dinner. We knew better, but still ended up at the Colessuem. It is so beautiful at night - but we decided to eat at a pizzaria nearby - not a good choice! The only way to finish that meal was to get Venchi gelato for dessert!

Cycling around the Park

Borghese park was great - it was a huge place - and although there was a huge police presence because of a football match, we were able to get around all over and see the place on these AWESOME two person cycling cars. They were a little scary, in my opinion, because the hills were steep - but they were such good fun! We worked up a sweat, and headed back to the Spanish steps to get some pizza!

Rowing around the Borghese Park

We were getting kind of tired of Rome - not in the sense that the shops and the streets were boring, but that we were running out of things to see. Thankfully, our good family friend Mary had come to Rome with her daughter not too long ago and recommended we head out to Borghese Park.
It wasn't really that far away from the city centre, and it was so beautiful! It was a really big park, and at the edge of the entrance - it doesn't look like much - until you keep walking in. There was a big police presence, because of a football match - but that was even fine. We found this amazing little pond, where we could row a boat - just like we did in Japan. It had this beautiful building /shrine in the middle of the pond which was amazing! I had such a good time rowing Josh around - especially because everyone laughs
at me rowing him!! We even taught another girl how to row! We enjoyed the sun - and walked around the whole park until we found the coolest thing ever - these electric dynamo bicycles for two people that looked like a car!

Ostia Antica

We had planned to spend several days in Rome, but found that we were much faster at walking and seeing things than the guide books said. To be honest - now this has happened several times - so we plan to spend much less time than all the guide books say! So we had to decide on a day
trip from Rome - something easy to get to. We managed to catch a train to Ostica Antica- this giant archeological ruin in the outsikirts of Rome. Ostia used to be it's own little harbour city - and it still feels so seperate from Rome. We got ther - right in front of a tour group - but apart from that one tour group - it was so lovely and empty. They say there is stuff at Ostia Antica from 3BC - the idea of that is just crazy - that we can see so much of it now! The entrance of the town was these huge stones and pillars. They have beautiful
intact theaters there - lots of big trees and all sorts of mosaics on the floor. We had such a good time wandering around there - it was one of the best places I have ever visited! We had such a good time exploring the old shops, the old toilets and all sorts of places which the army settlement used. It was super great and we saw all sorts of buildings. We saw on the map that the oldest recorded Synagogue was there origionally - so we headed out to try and find it. It really is a huge place, that takes all day to explore and
see it. The Synagogue was supposed to be at the very edge of the town - but we couldn't find it - which was a shame - but we did get a workout getting there! On our way back - we walked through all these side streets which were amazing. Out at the outskirts, the buildings weren't bariccaded and we could walk through them all
- touching all the stones and sitting on the columns - it made for some really great pictures and a nice relax! It took all day for us to explore - and then we wandered into the town. We had a little guidebook and one restaurant was mentioned in it. It turned out to have the best carbonara either of us had ever eaten - we lucked out with all the food on our trip!

Gardens of the Vatican

The art museums at the Vatican are huge - it took us quite a long time to wander around and see it all, but it was nice to be indoors. After we finished, the end of the museum kind of takes you out to this patio and to the cafeteria they have. It was down this incredible staircase - I has seen pictures on the internet of it - but had yet to find it. I was so excited to see it - but the stairs were super tiny and it was hard to walk down them actually! We were pretty late in the day to get a lunch, but we were able to get some
snacks. Then, we wandered around these beautiful gardens. To be honest, I expected that it would a bit larger, but they were perfect - nice and sunny and there was even an ice cream seller! We wandered around them, and saw the back of the beautiful art museums - and this huge, huge fountain
- that was so clear and blue! It was great to enjoy some sunshine in Italy! We had great weather the whole time we were there! I think I was mainly surprised by how long it took us in the museum - it took up most of our day, just as all the guide books said - to make sure we enjoyed the Church, the art museums and the gardens! It filled so much of our time and I am so glad we were able to see all of it!

Saint Peters

Saint Peter's Bastilica is one of the most recognised churches in the world - mainly because it is home to the Pope! But seriously, you get up close to it and it is absolutely huge! Even a pillar is incredibly huge, and the inside is just incredible. I looked it up and it says that it is the world's
best example of Renaissance architecture - primarily because it was designed by Michealangelo. It has been claimed that it is the largest church in the world - and it certainly felt that way! Considering it was so warm outside, it felt so cold inside! We visited the crypt, and visited all the tombs of the past Popes. It was just beautiful, but eventually we had to head over to the Vatican museums!

The City State of the Vatican

Because we explored all of Rome (at least it felt like that!) in our first day, we booked all our tickets for the Vatican for the second day we were there. We had booked the tickets really early online so we were all set for a good day there! And because our bed and breakfast was super close to the
Vatican, we were able to have a nice late, big, Italian breakfast and were able to walk over in plenty of time. There were so many people there - such long lines, just to get through another baricade to get into the huge huge church. It was so beautiful - and the crypt was great too - it sounds a weird thing
to say, but you could see the tomb stones of so many past Popes! They have some of the most impressive museums at the Vatican - lots and lots of beautiful art and nice furniture and it is really huge! We had a good time wandering around it all until we ended out in the Gardens!

Piazza Navona

We had walked all over Rome, but on the map was another Piazza that I really wanted to check out - Piazza Navona - which is set kind of off to the side, but is a seriously popular meeting place. It is full of fountains and little cafes and ice cream shops. Along the one side was this
huuuuuge church. Italy is very good at big, beautiful churches! We did a circle of it a couple times and ended up coming back to it a couple times, but never ended up eating there or anything - it was just nice to see!

The Angels at Saint Angelo's Castle

We walked so much in just one day in Rome - we hit so many of the spots on our map. It was great to see so much of the city. We headed back towards our little bed and breakfast which was right near the Vatican. On the way there, we spotted Saint Angelo's castle - which is this round turret shaped place which totally sticks out against the rest of the beautiful buildings. It's not that its not beautiful, but it's much different and in a different style. Next to the castle is this lovely bridge with the most beautiful statues of angels, and
there were lots of people hanging around listening to the music that was being played. We walked over the bridge and had a look at the outside of the castle, but in the end, we didn't go in. We headed back to our B and B to freshen up for a while, before heading back out for dinner. As we were so close to the Vatican, we had tons of places to go for dinner and then afterwards, we headed back to the bridge, to sit under the angels and listen to a jazz band - it was a lovely way to end an evening!

An unexpected spot

Just behind one Piazza, I can't even remember which one - were all these little alleys lined with shops and ice cream parlours, but just one street over, we found this adorable little church. There were actually quite a few people inside, and the carvings were just incredible, so we had to stop and take some photos!

Overlooking the city

This is one of my favourite photos from the holiday - Josh looking over the city from one of the many hills we climbed up - where we could see everything - Rome was remarkably green as well as super impressive. I was so happy I could finally take him to a place on his bucket list!

The Tomb of the Unknown

The steps down from the Piazza were super slippery, but we made it down and headed around the bend, where we found this GIANT roundabout, which apparently was from special movie with Audrey Hepburn. Anyway, at one of the ends of this giant,
huge roundabout was the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is a beautiful monument to all Italian soldiers. It was up all of these giant stairs again - another huge hill of Rome, but once we got to the top, it was really beautiful. And it was so striking to see this giant, giant Italian flag! It was so white and beautiful - we watched the changing of the guards and wandered around the giant monument for a while before heading off to our next spot!

Piazza del Campidoglio

We ended up finding an adorable little lunch spot at a place called Ba Ghetto in the Jewish Quarter - it was one of the yummiest places I have ever eaten and it was all Kosher too! Piazza del Campidoglio, or Capitoline Hill, is one of the seven hills of Rome. And it really is a big, big hill with so many steps to get up.
To be honest, we had no clue what was up at the top of the hill, we were just kind of wandering around, and saw these big, deep stairs. It seemed to take forever to get to the top, and there were tons of people around - lots and lots of tour groups! It was designed by Michealangelo, and while the buildings
were all super pretty, we didn't go in any of them. Some were museums and I think another took the places of an art museum and another a city hall. We saw some weddings happening too! We saw this pretty bridge/hallway walkover, and when we stopped to take a photo and pose,
we realised there was another walk way to go down, to the other side of the hill. It was there we could see this beautiful view of Rome! It seems like there were really quite a few good spots to overlook the city - I really couldnt get over it!

A walk along the River

One of my favourite areas we went to was along the river bank in Rome. It was really lovely, and a little shady - great to get away from the sunshine. The roads are all much higher than the river bank, so they have beautiful stone walls. Along these walls, these cute little markets
were set up - selling books, paintings and some cute trinkets. We walked along the river for a long time, until we came across the Jewish Quarter, and then found a little bridge to an island in the centre of the river. It was great little island, with a couple little shops and a church. Tiny, tiny, but so cute! We went into the church, which was completely silent and empty, and looked over the edge of the walls for a great view of the city. There was a really popular restaurant there too, but we couldn't get in so we headed off to look for more yummy places!