We got to see many more cathedrals and museums from their outsides and they were all so beautiful but we spent the majority of our time (and money) on the sites in Duomo Square. For only 15 euro we were able to go up Giotto's bell tower and visit the museum yesterday and today visited the baptistery of San Giovanni, the Santa Reparta, and went up the Duomo dome!
First we went to the baptistery, which is the oldest building in the square. It was reconstructed in the 11th century and is what we see today. There are incredible murals covering the walls and ceiling with windows that let light in from the outside at all angles. It's chilling to sit in these sorts of places and think back to when people were there practicing their religion in the 11th century. We sat there for a long while pointing out different reenactments of scripture that were in the murals before heading back to the cathedral. The dome is the center, top of the cathedral. The cathedral is in the shape of a cross and the dome is at the heart of it.
We hiked up the narrow winding stairs that led to the top of the dome where we first stopped to circle the inside top balcony that is close to the mural on the dome ceiling. Then we ascended the rest of the steep, uneven, winding stairs to get to the outside top of the cathedral. Emerging from the musty, narrow, stone walls leading up there was literally a breath of fresh air and much needed cold after hiking up the 494 steps. At least we weren't the only ones panting and thanking God we made it to the top finally!
What a view that was waiting for us. The sun had risen up and it was late morning when we were up there. The city was layered with golden light and you could see the mountains in the distance. You could see everything. It was awesome. It was definitely my favorite part of our time in Florence. The city is such a beautiful place and up there you can take it all in at once.
We spent a lot of time at the top before heading down to the excavations of Santa Reparta in the basement of the cathedral. There were many remains of stones from the original structures, mosaics from the walls, and tomb stones. The original stairs were even right below the ones we walked down. We were able to see how the cathedral was built in different sections at a time and in which eras. I can't believe how anyone can dream up such a place and create it. It is honestly inspiring and just so cool to be able to learn about. It took many years for the masterpiece to be what is seen today but so many people from all over the world were there with me to admire the work, making it worth all the time put into it.
Then, after a full morning of education, we rewarded ourselves with some pizza at a snack bar near the Ponte Vecchio. Then we even treated ourselves to some Italian desserts. I had the tiramisu and Conner had some sort of cream balls in an almond basket from Caffe Neri. We ate them sitting along the Fiume Arno river so the sun would keep us warm. It was the best dessert we've ever had.
With full stomachs and happy hearts we walked along the river and through shops all along side it. We basically did that for the entire afternoon enjoying the weather and the little time left to soak up Firenze. To relax and rest our legs for a bit we went in another cafe/snack bar and had some Italian wine (because it's a must you know!) before dinner.
For dinner we went to a restaurant in Piazza di Repubblica and ate outside under a heat lamp. I had the pasta Alfredo and Conner had the ravioli. The way to my heart is food, and Italy has definitely stolen it. The meal was perfect and it was the best end to our time in Florence.
After getting our bags from the hotel, we crossed the street to the central station to get on our train to Rome! We arrived in Rome at 830 and went to check in to our hotel before heading straight to the Trevi Fountain. I could hear the water from the side street as we neared it and nearly broke into a run! It is such a beautiful fountain and I think that it was nighttime made it that much cooler!
We sat right in front near the water for a bit taking it in before throwing our lucky pennies into the fountain. I was living the dream I’ve had ever since I saw the Lizzy McGuire Movie! I think my whole trip I’ll be singing, “This is what dreams are made of!” We even got a boiler up from a man and his family that were at the fountain as well! It’s such a small world. We got some gelato and sat back near the fountain before heading here to our hotel. We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow and couldn’t be more excited to see Roma!