Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hotel Degli Orafi

We chose to spend a little more and stay at this awesome hotel in Florence. The location was primo and the breakfast was amazing. The movie "A Room With A View" was filmed here. It is in between the Uffizi Gallery and Ponte Vecchio. This is the entrance in a pedestrian only street.

It used to be an old palace so it was a very unique experience. The breakfast room was the old ballroom and you could sit right on the river for breakfast. They had beautiful sitting rooms and a library.
In front of our hotel room.

This guy sang every night promoting his cd's. He was REALLY good.

A classical concert. They taped off the assigned seats but there were hundreds of people standing around listening.

Boboli Gardens at Pitti Palace

The courtyard behind the palace that took you into the Tuscan hills.

An ancient vineyard in the garden.

We took the bus (totally exciting ride) to the Prada outlet near Florence where I bought my first and probably only designer anything.

Piazza Duomo

The Duomo in Florence. It was very unique and extremely artisitcally beautiful. And of course we had to climb to the top. It was the most treaturous of all the buildings we climbed, as it was literally vertical in some areas.

Yes we climbed to the very peak of this building....have mercy.
Overlooking the bell tower of the Duomo.
I loved the view from here. I loved that the valley was surrounded by the tuscan hills and you could see the vineyards. Notice the death grip?

An illegal picture of the David thanks to Joe. He was AmAzInG. And that's an understatement. After seeing him, you walk into a room of a lot of other sculptures, and you really appreciate the work. He truely is perfect.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pisa, Italy

This was our cute bed and breakfast in Pisa. We only stayed there for our first night. It was a couple blocks from the Tower with lots of shops and restaurants nearby as well the Deutsch Bank which we later learned was the ONLY bank we could use in all of Italy. Phew!! I would have had a coronary if we would have flown all the way to Italy and not have been able to retrieve money.

This is the Baptistry.I know it doesn't look exciting but you may change your mind when we post a video later...and let me tell you it was stinkin awesome! The hexagon with the guy in the middle is the font.

This is the Basilica. It was jaw-dropping fabulous. Literally. It was so ornate and beautiful. It has white and black alternating marble which I loved (look at the arches on the left), and the ceiling (close up on the right) was so detailed! It was probably my favorite church of the entire trip. St. Peter's Basilica was also pretty ornate, but that church made me sick to my stomach...will explain later. Part of the ceiling was redone (still several hundreds of years ago) because a fireball came through it, but BeAuTiFuL.

This is the Monumental Cemetery just west of everything else. Too complicated to explain. But the architecture of all of these buildings is pretty amazing and unique to Pisa. There is nothing else like it...and I LOVED IT.

The happy couple trying to get over jetlag to enjoy the views with all that wind!

Torre Pendente Di Pisa

The Tower itself took 200 years to complete in 3 different phases, 100 years apart. They had to stop during times of war. Some fun facts: 1) It sits 8 stories high 2) It weighs 14.7 tons 3) The leaning began 5 years after it was begun but they realized it could not be straightened during the 2nd phase 4) The thickness of the walls at the base are 8 ft

Everywhere you looked, this is what you saw. It was so funny! We swore we weren't going to look stupid like everyone else, but right before we left....I gave in. We couldn't come to the LEANING TOWER and not take the famous picture.................

Ok so ours doesn't look as cool and we felt pretty silly doing it, but TADA!!

We climbed the tower and it was one of the most memorable experiences of the whole trip! We heard that a few years ago, one was not able to climb it, so we took advantage of our opportunity. You have to do it by appointment and only X amount of people can climb at a time, and we were only allowed 30 minutes at the top. You climb 300 narrow and very worn marble steps that are enclosed in the outer walls of the Tower with occasional windows to peer out. You could totally tell which side of the Tower you were on. As you climbed the leaning side, gravity pulled you sideways making it hard to keep your balance and you knew you were on the other side because the steps were much steeper.

The Death Grip

These are the last few steps at the top of the Tower. For those of you that don't know me very well, I'm TERRIFIED of heights. The fact that I'm so tall and the only thing keeping me from toppling over the edge are these 4 skinny bars did NOT help the situation. Let's just say I had the guards up top laughing at me...and that is when I met Doyle from Napa Valley.

This is Doyle. As I stood at the top with a death grip on the inner bars, everyone could here a man coming up those last few steps saying, "Oh my gosh, OH NO." Repeatedly over and over along with alot of cussing, I was relieved someone shared my same fear, only he verbalized it much better. As he walked around to wear we were (I was planted) I told him, "I'm glad I'm not the only one that feels like that." As we talked, he informed me he used to be a firefighter but never got over his fear of heights. He then noticed that some of the bars were held by duct tape (as pictured on the left). He was adamant about getting me to look over the edge and had to drag me to the outer bars. I handed his wife my sunglasses as I peered over the edge, laughing and crying at the same time. Together, we entertained everyone on top (we were even videotaped) and Joe of course had to capture the moments. We later ran into Doyle and his wife in Rome, the biggest city, of all places. It was fun to see them and relive these moments.

One of the many bells of the Tower.

This is the view from the top. The dome near the top of the picture is the Baptistery, the big cross shape is the Basilica and the structure to the right is the Monumental Cemetery. I'm not a history buff, it was easily my most hated subject in all of school. With our travels, I wish I knew more. I have gained a huge love and appreciation for the history now, but would have appreciated it a lot more had I known the history before seeing these places. As you will learn throughout these posts, I had a lot of AHA moments learning the history and some people may say "DUH, I knew that"...but not me. It wasn't until I was looking through our pictures at home that I noticed ALL the catholic churches in Italy (can't say for others) are in the shape of a cross. The 3 points of the top of the cross are always where the chapels sit. I am so smart. SMRT. The view of the rest of Pisa. I had heard that there is nothing else in Pisa except for the square, and I completely disagree. I loved it. It reminded me a lot of my hometown in Brasil. It's small and not very fancy, but it's the people and the simplicity of life that makes it so wonderful. When we left the square, that's when we got to experience La Dolce Vida of Italy without the tourism which was phenomenal.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


Let the trip begin!!!!!!!!!!! As per usual, our trip starts off in NYC. We flew on the red-eye to NY, spent the day in the city then took the red-eye to Pisa. I can always sleep anywhere, but poor Joe struggles...but he was able to get this awesome shot!

Unfortunately, we were there on a Sunday which meant some places were closed, this being the NYC library.

Home of NY fashion week.......and PROJECT RUNWAY.

Testing out the features of our new camera.

We were not there for very long, but we did have lunch at Bubba Gumps in Times Square!! I have to say I've eaten at Bubba Gumps in different cities, but the best one is in NY (Maui a close second though).