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Italy | Florence back to Rome

It took me a bit longer than expected, but here I am with your second of two Italy updates! (You can see the first half of our trip here.) We left off with the tiny town of Castellina with a super-creepy entire skeleton "relic." And though I put Siena in the title of the post, there were no photos of Siena. Well, so it goes. I didn't take many and we were only there one afternoon. So we move on to dah-dah-DAH-dah Florence! Florence was really really great. Oh that? That's just the original Birth of Venus by Botticelli. It's in the Uffizi. I realized about halfway through the museum that you're not supposed to take pictures. Oops. Below here we have the Duomo - an enormous crazy-looking cathedral in the middle of Florence. We paid to go up in the dome and it was one of the coolest things we did. It's also the only place I handed my camera to a stranger to try to get a photo of me and George together. Take #1. No, I'm not sneezing - I just look like that. Yeah, great. Take #2: success! After the disheartening take #1, I had the girl stand where she was going to be for the photo, focused on her then set it on manual so we'd at least be mostly in focus. It worked! Here we are at the top of the Duomo. Here's what the outside of the Duomo looks like. Crazy, right? And this is a side-part. The facade was even more impressive. Okay so we were in Florence for five days. So we had a steak. But also we learned all about the Medici family, who seem to singlehandedly have funded the Renaissance. Michelangelo, Galileo and lots of other super-famous dudes were funded by these guys, who basically ruled Florence. They ended up as Popes, too. This bridge connected their two palaces - they didn't want to have to walk amongst the common people so they had a higher-level walkway built. But they were annoyed that they had to smell all the bridge businesses - fishermen, butchers, etc. - so they declared that the only businesses that could set up shop under their walkway were jewelers! This is the jewelry district to this day. Pisa. Because, well, we were only an hour's train ride and I figured we had to go freakin' see Pisa. And also George inside St. Peter's (which, yes, is completely out of chronological order but you can deal.) Back in Florence. Florence has art everywhere. Seriously, everywhere - it's those Medici people! Right next to one of their earlier palaces is an arcade - just a covered patio - chock-full of original sculptures by super-famous sculptor-people. Just because the Medicis were thinking "hey, let's put some art up for people to look at." Yeah, they were super-loaded.

We ate more gelato than you can comprehend. The Palazzo Pitti - a really cool collection of museums and crazy gardens. This is the place some Medici wife had built because the previous palace was too small. On our last day in Florence, George wanted to go to the Museum of Galileo, which serves as a repository for cool old scientific instruments and things. Galileo's telescopes and all other manner of thing were there. Here, he's explaining something or other to me and I wanted to photograph all his facial expressions. This doesn't show off Italy at all, really, but look how sexy my freakin' husband is. I have to admit the beard is working for him. Yes, it really is.

And then we were in Bologna! And I do believe Bologna was my favorite city. Of everywhere we went, it was the place that cared the least about tourists. Even (dirty, graffiti-covered) Naples had tourist buses and file-em-through restaurants. Bologna was much more concerned with the locals and with the university population and that is totally 100% fine by me. We went to Eataly and bought snacks and then we went just about everywhere else in the foodie district and bought all other manner of thing. I have a 1.5 pound block of parmesan cheese waiting for me to attack it. Bologna was just a hip, nice place to hang out. And they have not one but two! leaning towers to check out but you've never heard of them... because Pisa has a better marketing department?

So one of the coolest things about Bologna is that all the buildings around downtown used to be crazy palaces and mansions and things. Maybe it's the same everywhere else in the Old World, but in Bologna they were all marked. Each apartment building had a little placard explaining (in Italian) who used to live there - and that's about the most I could get out of the language. You could walk into the central courtyards of some of them and see that there were still painted ceilings and crazy sweet frescoes. How awesome to live in a place like that. And they have amazing door knockers.

Also in Bologna, we took a pasta-making class. I didn't take any photos because I was making pasta the whole time, but it was pretty neat. The lady teaches the classes out of her kitchen so we got to see a real Italian house. It looked a lot like a real American house, aside from the bidet. Pasta, by the way, is really hard to make and I probably won't ever do it again.

This is a testament to my husband's ingenuity and craftiness. In Bologna, we stayed at a lovely little place way the hell up on the "fourth" (something like 6 staircases' worth of) floor but for whatever reason were the only guests around. I was really excited to see a bathtub, until I got all my things together and went to put the plug in... and there wasn't one. George and I brainstormed for a bit and then he rigged up this contraption. It is an *apple* cut down to approximately plug-size, then wrapped in a plastic bag and crammed into the space. Folks, this contraption actually kept my bath from going down the drain for long enough for me to take an actual normal-length bath. My husband is amazing.

I'm ashamed to say that this is the only "making like the" set of photos I have from the trip. There were so many good places for it but I - god strike me down - forgot that I love these images. But thank goodness I got one good one of both me and George. He's standing in front of the "George slays the dragon" by someone or other.

Aaaaand then we were back in Rome. On our very last day in Italy, we finally made it to the Vatican Museums to check out all the crazy-ass art and also to see the Sistine Chapel. It was a pretty good time, but George got outrageously sick almost immediately afterward.

And finally, Nutella. Italians cannot get enough of Nutella - I swear to you, it was everywhere.

Well guys, that is it! I have no more pictures to show. Italy was a crazy whirlwind trip. And it got George and me started on what I hope will be a lifetime of travel together. We learned a lot about what we need/want in a travel companion and in a trip and I know our next one will have fewer hiccups. We're thinking Greece... or Thailand... or China... until next time - arrivederci!

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