Thursday, June 23, 2011

Florence, Italy

Firenze, Italy 6-20-11
Our hotel here in Florence is FANTASTIC!  It is an apartment style room, with a living room and even a small kitchenette, a bedroom with a desk and king size (not so comfortable) bed, and a great bathroom. For only 60 Euro for one night (including 10 Euro for parking in their private parking lot), I’d say not too shabby, especially since its normally 260 Euro per night! 
The drive up to Florence from Rome was very lovely. I saw my first Tuscan sunflower field! Now, if you know me well enough, you will know that my favorite movie is Under the Tuscan Sun with Diane Lane. There are sunflower fields in that movie, and since the first time I saw it, I’ve wanted to go to a sunflower field in Tuscany and take pictures. We haven’t gotten to the picture taking part yet, but that will come tomorrow I do believe. 
Also along the way to Florence, we made a short stop in a little village called Orvieto. The hotel manager at Hotel Villa Spada in Rome suggested we stop there and eat. We didn’t get to eat, and we weren’t able to stay long, but it is the neatest little ancient city built up on a hill. From the bottom of the hill it looks like it may have been an old fortress. So cute, and it was surrounded by little valleys covered with vineyards and olive groves. I was able to get some great pictures from the car, and we pulled over a couple of times to get pictures as well. 
After leaving Orvieto we finished our drive over to the lovely city of Firenze (Florence). Firenze is a great city, with a thriving downtown that mixes the old architecture and the modern amenities quite nicely. The Cathedral in the middle of the city is absolutely breathtaking, but even more amazing is the main bridge in town. There are HOUSES/stores ON THE BRIDGE! It is incredible. Il Ponte Vacchio is what its called (I think...) and it is one heck of a bridge! Every storefront displayed gorgeous jewelry and glittery things. Very ADD-tastic. 
As we were making our way back to the bus stop to catch the bus back to the hotel, we were stopped by a parade of men in renaissance uniforms. Coming from somewhere behind them was the sound of drums. It slightly reminded me of marching band for a second. Since our way was blocked, we stood and watched this spectacle as it unfolded. After the drums and piccolos passed by we saw a group of “important looking” men in suits, and directly after them were teams preceded by their country’s flag. At this point we were trying to figure out what the heck was going on. Apparently the Men’s Water Polo World Super Finals is beginning in Florence tomorrow. So, we enjoyed the sights as these very nice looking men from all over the world were paraded by. As team USA went passed I cheered, of course. The opening ceremony was apparently taking place in the Piazza where we were, so we decided to stay and watch for a quick second. The band that was set up on one of the monuments played each teams national anthem, and when the American national anthem began, it was moving. The men on team USA sang along to every word, very loudly, as did all the rest of us Americans in the crowd, followed afterward by a loud cheer. I felt for a moment that I was not alone, and my homesickness subsided for a while. It literally sent chills up and down my whole body. It was, to say the least, incredible. 
Once the American national anthem was over, we went ahead and left to go to the bus stop. Got some gelato on the way, and once we got back to the hotel, I attempted to contact Alex Lozano to see about hanging out, and that was a communication fail, big time. All for the best, though, because I am not quite feeling well. Hopefully this crud will be gone by tomorrow. 
Side Note: Congratulations to my cousin Kyle Jones and his wife Elizabeth Brewington Jones on the birth of their first child, a boy named Levi Matthew. So excited for them! I can’t believe there is a new generation in our family now! Can’t wait to meet him in the fall! 

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