Day seven was the day we left Rome. I was sad to see such an amazing place go, but we were off to Florence! We hopped a high speed train (165mph) and a little over an hour later, we were in Florence. Those trains are seriously the way to get around in Europe - fast and cheap!
Some shots of the Tuscany countryside from the train (glare from the windows - sorry).
Our apartment (seriously, vrbo.com is amazing) was a short walk from the train station in Florence. The pace in Florence was much slower than Rome and I really enjoyed it. There weren't nearly as many people and the city itself is a fraction of the size of Rome. Much easier to navigate! A lot of the streets looked like this:
Shops and restaurants all over the place. It was pretty cool.
Once we got everything settled in the apartment, we ventured out for lunch. Rounding the first corner was this massive building, Basilica di San Lorenzo. Parts of it were under construction, but it was a gorgeous old (aren't they all old?!) building. We found a restaurant right next to it and enjoyed a nice lunch.
We also hit up a few shops along our walk - found lots of great stuff!
Rounding another corner was the one building I was most excited to see - The Duomo. To say this building is massive is an incredible understatement. It's very overwhelming. And the design and architecture were stunning. It's just an amazing building! When I was researching Florence, I was bummed that I scheduled things a little wonky and wouldn't get to go up to the top of the dome because The Duomo is closed on Sundays. However, as we rounded that corner, I noticed tons of lines all over the place. They had picked a couple Sundays throughout the summer to do spontaneous tours, etc. I was so mad! I had so many other things to see this day, and I wasn't about to stand in line for hours and miss out on everything else. I was bummed, but I got over it because I knew going into Florence that I wasn't going to get inside the building. So I snapped some pictures walking all the way around it and continued on my way.
Santa Maria Novella was another church I wanted to see. I just got pictures of the outside only as they were charging to go inside. I wanted to spend my money elsewhere.
At this point, Eric and I separated and I ended up exploring the rest of the places on my list alone. It was so fun to wander through the streets, shop with the local vendors, and take in this wonderful city.
Santa Croce was another beautiful church:
Florence National Central Library (makes our libraries look rather boring):
The famous Ponte Vecchio
Walking through Florence:
I also visited Piazza della Signoria, which was gorgeous. Here is Palazzo Vecchio. I loved this building!
After Piazza della Signoria, I made my way back to the apartment. Eric wasn't there, so I took the time to unpack all of my goodies from the day and relaxed for a bit. I developed several blisters during this drip, and also had been battling a cold the entire time. I wanted to give my body a little rest. Once Eric returned, we decided to take a taxi up to Piazzale Michelangelo so I could get some night shots of Florence. I'm telling you, the taxi drivers in Europe are certifiably insane with the way they drive. I would hate to be a cyclist or pedestrian in their way!
Once we got to Piazzale Michelangelo, there were a TON of people and tripods set up all over the place. I didn't bring my tripod, nor was I about to buy some cheap knock-off brand one. I adjusted my settings big time and made it work. The Duomo is pretty easy to spot!
Ponte Vecchio at night:
A depiction of David. The real David is inside a museum, which we didn't get to.
Ponte Vecchio again...
One last shot of the Duomo
As we hit Piazza della Signoria on the walk home, there was a youth orchestra playing and it was phenomenal. We stood in the crowd and watched several pieces. Absolutely incredible!
When we got back to the apartment, I decided that I wasn't going to do the Cinque Terre day trip the next morning. My feet and legs were just too exhausted, and our communication at this point had pretty much tanked.
The next morning is when I discovered Eric's cheating, which had been going on for quite some time. I decided I just wanted to go home at this point. I didn't want to continue on to Venice, our last leg of the trip. I contacted the train company and airlines to make changes to come home immediately. I cancelled the apartment in Venice and packed my stuff to come home. I wish I could have seen Venice, but Rome really was my #1 and I got a week of experiencing all of its wonder. And now here I was, half a world away from my kids, missing them like crazy, and really just wanting my own bed.
I got in one last meal in Florence, which ended up being the best of the entire trip. The pasta was simply incredible and I wish I could find some way to replicate it.
And of course, I had to finish out the trip with the one thing I fell in love with the most: