Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Other Highlights of Florence

Because I was so busy trying to post other locations, I didn't give Florence the credit it most certainly deserves!  As I am sure I have stated over and over again, the highlight for me the entire trip was getting to run everywhere.  Exploring new, beautiful scenery every day while running 5-10 miles was hands down the best!  When in Florence, because I try to be as safe as possible running, I most ran along the river with an excursion up to Michelongelo's  Piazza.  Besides the Duomo, Michelangelo's Piazza was my favorite place in all of Florence.  Sadly because it was such a trek to get there, I never took my good camera to take pictures... but we got some fun ones along the way.  
This is the first time I took my parents and Chad and Maddie up to it.  We went in like 10 in the morning.... but 10 in the morning in Florence is WAY too hot.  But we survived.
This view never gets old...
Here is when I took Nick running there.
Here's a replica of the David at Michelangelo's Piazza.  
One night after dinner we took Nick and Zach up to watch the sunset at the Piazza.  There was a concert going that night so it was super crowded and fun.



And we got possibly my favorite picture of the entire trip..............

After we walked home along the river and across the Ponte Vecchio.  It was gorgeous after the sun had set but the sky was still a brilliant blue.  The reflection on the river was amazing!!!


Florence was absolutely magical at night.  When the sun went down it was like a whole other world came out.  The city was alive with night life.  The lights came on to show another beautiful perspective of the amazing architecture, the street entertainers set up on every corner so every few hundred feet you would hear different live music, it was awesome.  But my personal favorite was in front of Palazzo Vecchio (the old palace) there is Piazza della Signoria.  This is where the David originally was.  Anyway, there is this cute archway called Loggia dei Lanzi with more statues.  But at night, most nights during the summer, an orchestra set up every night at played for free.  It was so cool.

One thing that I craved like CRAZY the whole time in Florence was vegitation.  I know that doesn't really make sense because in most pictures it looks like there is greenery.  But for the most part, our every day lives in Florence, there was zero plants.  Zero.  Just hot hot hot cobble stone.  So one day my mom and I went up to the Pitti Palace to check out the Medici's Boboli Gardens around the palace.  Honestly, I was quite disappointed in them.  If they were free it would have been cool.... but for the price we paid it was kind of a bummer.  There were hardly any flowers.  But it was nice to at least see some greenery.

This first shot is the closest thing we saw to what I pictured it would look like... like a real European Royalty Garden....

But it was a fun little outing all the same...
I tell ya, this view never gets old.





Some other highlights in Florence, Porcellino the lucky pig.  If you rub his nose he brings you good luck.  Of course my dad had to rub it!

Another picture of Ponte Vicchio.
The replica of the David in Piazza della Signoria
One of my favorite things to do is check out the unique merchandise at Disney Stores in different locations.  Like my favorite was the t-shirt of Mickey blowing away in Chicago.  (The windy city, get it. :)  At the Florence Disney Store this cute Italian Pizza Chef Mickey was my favorite.


Speaking of shopping.... there are a few out door markets around Florence.  Here is an example of what you would find at every. single. shop.  Ties, scarfs, and leather goods.


 On the last night we were in Florence I wanted to try and get a cute family picture when my hair was actually done..... not the infamous top knot I sported the mass majority of the time in Europe... (I'll explain when I do a post on packing that I didn't bring ANYTHING to do my hair... luckily there was a straightener in our apartment in Florence.... but still without product it was a bit touch and go)  Anyway.... the picture definitely didn't turn out as good as I wanted but oh well... probably should have waited for another hour to take this picture because the sun was brutal.... but no way I was getting Jason to go back an hour later just for a picture.

 Luckily I got a decent picture of my parents so it wasn't a total bust.
 And then we sat on the step and enjoyed the live music on the bridge.  I had to laugh at listening to these Italians try and sing American songs... their English... was always hilarious.


But like I said.... my favorite thing about Florence was the Duomo.  No matter how many times you looked at it, it never got old.  

 


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Chillin' with George Clooney.

Leaving Florence was a bit bittersweet.  I realized I was a bit crazy for feeling a bit sad about it but even my dad commented on the feeling.  It had become our home.

But luckily Jason, Brad, and I were off on another huge adventure.



We took a train to Milan and then hopped on a bus to Bergamo where we rented a car to start our roadtrip.  To say I was blown away by Lake Como would be an understatement.  I guess I should never underestimate George Clooney.  He knew what he was doing when he settled here.

Sadly we didn't have a ton of time because we wanted to get to Switzerland but an afternoon was enough to make me fall in love all the same.

Our homeboy Rick recommended Varrenza so that is where we spent our time.  I wish we would have had more time to ride a ferry of to Bellagio... but oh well.  We swam in the Lake, walked down a gorgeous water front path, ate lunch on the lake and tried out 2 different gelato shops.  It was awesome.

 Going down to the lake.
 







Cool paths everywhere.


 






Palm trees and pine trees together..... a dream come true.



 Lunch



Some day I'll be a sailer....
 On the road again...
We spent the night in a totally random town north east of Lake Como.  We picked Morbegno because it was close to some awesome rock climbing that we were going to do the next morning.  But it was raining... so we didn't even climb there.  But I have to tell you about cute Morbegno.  Darling little town off the beaten path so very few tourists.  We had to find out Airbnb apartment by asking around because of course there was no address.  So we just asked around until someone knew Vicento.  Of course.  Just like the movies.  Where everyone knows everyone.  But my favorite interaction of possibly the whole trip was when we went out looking for a grocery store.  (Of course our Airbnb was supposed to have wifi but didn't so we had no clue where a grocery story was)  So we asked a teenage waiter as a restaurant.  He had no clue where the grocery store was but no one else spoke English.  So we asked that waiter to ask one of the locals.  This cute old lady didn't just tell us where the grocery store was, she walked us the 3 blocks to the grocery store just to make sure we got there!  It was so sweet.  Our apartment was beautifully remodeled but it was right downtown (this is a picture from the living room window)  No air conditioning so all night long we were woken up to every single car that drove down the cobble stone road.  I won't lie, I was excited to be done with cobble stones by the time we left Europe.