Firenze! Which apparently means "Florence" in Italian!

We kept wondering why the train stations kept saying "Firenze" and not "Florence."  I can honestly say Keri and I gave Italian the old [community] college try before hopping on a plane overseas.  We found about 8 hours of Italian on CDs and listened to them all in about 2 months.  I knew 8 hours of listening in the car wouldn't get me to conversational Italian, but I thought it would at least cover "why the hell isn't Florence on the map?  Should we ask someone in what city The David is located?  We eventually figured it out... and arrived in the artist's city.

To be honest, we were expecting something different.  We thought Rome was going to be a big, busy, bustling city; Florence would be a small, artsy city easy to get around; and Sienna would be just a big neighborhood town.  We were right about Rome and Sienna, but we overestimated the quaintness of Florence.  We're not saying we didn't like Florence, because we did experience some amazing art, stayed in a beautiful former convent, and Keri met "Bernini"- her new baby lamb leather jacket.  Florence just seemed full of crazy mopeds, long lines for museums, and a few unfriendly waiters.

I'll start the photo series with our first moment of peace from the trip.  Between the 5 missed standby flights to Italy, going to Germany first, getting acclimated in Venice, and the sightseeing in Cinque Terre, we began Florence with our first moment of downtime- laundry day.  Because Keri and I flew standby, we had to pack roughly 3 weeks of clothes in a "carry-on and one personal item."  Florence was about all our wardrobe could handle without offending the natives.  We settled into the Setti Santi Hostile (Seven Saints)- a former Catholic Convent- for a few hours of laundry, napping, and relaxation.  The window you see immediately below opened to an olive orchard.

The Ponte Vecchio and a close-up of the stilts supporting the retail shops that open to the inside of the bridge.


A random opera singer on the street.

And onto the market day 2.

This woman freehand embroiders fabric in about 20 seconds.  Pretty amazing to watch.

And of course, I had to include pictures of Bernini.  The coat that came to Keri by way of an Italian man that knows Keri's style and size by just one look at her.  No joke.  It was pretty amazing.

Part II on the way...