So, yesterday morning I didn't wake up until about 10:30 Florence time which was wonderful but very surprising! And as stated in my first post, it took me a while to get out and get going. Walked towards the historic center and found a little place to eat and must confess, I had three little pastries (one really small, mind you and one with red raspberries, so maybe not too bad?) and a pot of tea. I knew I was pointed in the direction of the Duomo and came to an intersection, turned to see the street name and there it was, peeking around the corner at me. I actually gave a little lurch back, like a double take or something. People must have assumed I'd seen a ghost. :)
Walked on to the Piazza della Santa Maria de la Maggiore and took a minute to sit (I had eaten standing at the bar cause it's cheaper that way). While sitting, the campanile (bell tower) and I took each other's measure and I decided that I would indeed climb it. After climbing the dome last year, I knew I wanted to climb the campanile sometime and now was the time. And here is the campanile:
So, after resting up, taking several deep breaths (and a few pictures) I found my way in and started up and either I'm in worse shape than last year or this was a harder climb. I think it was partly being in worse shape but also the flights of stairs were so long before coming to a little spot where you could stop and breathe for a minute. It was much more straight up than in the dome which I think at least some of the time was going up in a circular pattern. At any rate, it's a few less steps than the dome but I was pretty much completely winded when I got to the top.
And right now I'm on paid internet so the next batch of pictures have no text - they were all taken from various look-thrus on the way up.
And, finally I got there and here's the picture to prove it (in which I seem to have slits for eyes!)
And a view of the duomo (be glad I'm paying for this - I'm really limiting pictures so you're only seeing one of the duomo). Then after those will be pictures taken from the top - a few with text.
I took a lot more pictures and may find that I've missed putting one on here that I really wanted to share, but time is short. I spent quite a while at the top, partly to recover, but also it was quite beautiful and wonderful seeing the dome right across from me.
Going back down was pretty much a breeze with those long straight stairways. There's one section that is a very tight spiral and goes on for quite a while so you run into people coming up and that's tricky since half of each tread is the skinny end of the triangle. But now I've climbed both and will have to find another challenge for my next trip.
I went inside the duomo when I got back down just to rest and enjoy for a bit. And it was interesting that I found myself surprised by how fairly plain and kind of small it was. Of course, the two side chapels were closed and that would make it seem smaller. But don't worry - it didn't diminish my feelings any. :)
So these next pictures are from the interior of the cathedral:
I then saw people going downstairs to the gift shop and, for want of a better term, the crypt and remembered that I had decided last year that if I got to come back, I would pay to wander through the "crypt" area. I don't know why it's called that sometimes. It's actually the site of an archeological dig beneath the current cathedral and oh, it bugs me not being able to go on-line and get the facts. But what they found were the remains of an ancient church built on the site which was basically razed to accommodate the construction of the current cathedral. It was named for a 12-year old girl, Reparata, who refused to renounce her Christian beliefs and was tortured and abused and then killed. That much is fact, as far as I could tell from the audio guide. Then legend has it that she was placed in a boat and set adrift on the river, ending up in Florence, somehow due to angelic intervention. And I'm not being sarcastic, I just can't remember what all the audio said and it's frustrating. Anyway, she was canonized and was and still is a very popular saint in Italy and particularly in Tuscany. So the ancient church was called the Chiesa Santa Reparata or the Santa Reparata Basilica, I believe. There are remains of what must have been beautiful mosaic flooring, there is a very damaged frescoe, various "lids" of tombs that were unearthed during the excavations along with items found in the tombs. And amazingly enough, a very small chapel has been set up and is used for services although I'm not sure when or why. But there is a small altar, several pews, a little organ, etc. So I found all of that quite interesting and am just sorry I can't make it more interesting for anyone reading this. And it turns out that one of the two statues in niches outside one of the doors of the duomo is a statue of St. Reparata which I think was a friendly gesture on the part of the architects and designers of the duomo.
And this is Santa Reparata outside the duomo
By now, it was time for a bathroom break and I didn't know quite where to find one. I asked the desk lady in the cathedral and she said there was one at #7 on the Piazza across from the Baptistery. So intrigued, I went in search of it. Found a #7 on the Piazza across from the Baptistery which was a money exchange place but worked up my nerve to ask the girl what she thought and she said "this is the red #7 - she probably meant the black #7 across the Piazza". And, sure enough there it was. It's a public restroom and you pay a Euro to get in and it is spotlessly clean. And you go through one of the hundreds or thousands (for all I know) of courtyards in Florence to get to it! Pretty neat. :)
After all that, I was feeling very much at home and very Florentine-ish so I stopped at a cafe with outdoor seating and ordered a glass of prosecco and a tiny little sandwich of good bread and wafer thin bits of tasty ham and an even tinier cream puff type thing with chocolate cream filling. After conquering the campanile, I felt I deserved a special treat.
And that was about it. I went back to the hotel and worked on pictures and such and eventually decided to go out for dinner. Chose a different place this time that I had seen walking back from the Duomo and am so glad I did cause I sat next to two ladies who turned out to be from Scotland and we just chatted up a storm. I really had a hard time understanding the one lady whose accent was VERY strong. And my food was very good also - better than what I had the night before.
Oh, and I almost forgot to include this picture - it just tickled me when I saw it...
So, if you're still here, arrivederci til next time!