Finding my Roots or ‘Benvenuto all’Italia’, Part 2

Part 2 of our Rediscovering My Roots series:

If you’re just joining us, benvenuto, and check out Part 1.

Our trip continued from underwhelming Pisa onward to Florence. The driving is extremely tolerable, the scenery is quite beautiful and the highway system, surprisingly good. I must admit it took me by surprise since, knowing how mismanaged Italy has been for such a long time, I was expecting crumbling infrastructure, roads in bad state and poor traffic, but it seems that’s only in the US.

Firenze (Florence)

We went into the city and spent 30 minutes trying to find parking, but to no avail, which was surprising given that all we needed was about 5 feet with the Fiat. We ended up paying for a parking deck near the train station. We walked around a bit with the intention of seeing the David, but later found out there was a 2 hour wait outside of the museum and opted for visiting the Galileo Museum instead and having gelato. The museum is pretty awesome and I would recommend it to anyone who’s a science geek like I am. Most expositions change over time but they’re center around the scientific discoveries made in those times, and touches topics such as Astronomy, space and time, representation of the world, navigation and warfare, and in display are a whole host of instruments and machinery kept by the Medici and the Lorraine collections.

Antonio Santucci's Armillary Sphere

Antonio Santucci’s Armillary Sphere

Displays include, for example, the only two original Galileo telescopes he used to discover Jupiter’s moons, as well as Galileo’s middle finger. No, seriously, Galileo’s middle finger is on display at the museum (after it turned up at an auction and it was confirmed to be original), which in my mind is a poetic mockery to the church after the Vatican condemned him for contradicting church teachings. Especially when we think that he died in 1642 and was only pardoned by John Paul II, when he admitted the church got it wrong in saying that the Earth was the center of the universe.

Galileo's Middle Finger

Galileo’s Middle Finger

A visit to Firenze wouldn’t be complete without stopping by at the Piazza della Signoria, where a bunch of amazing buildings are located, such as the Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace, where the city hall is) and the Loggia dei Lanzi, where you can see statues by the most iconic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Italian artists. Don’t miss out on the reproduction of the David (if you can’t see the real one in the museum, like us) or the Perseus with the head of Medusa, or the Fountain of Neptune, which are both a reminder of how detailed this artistic period was and that I better start going to the gym at least 5 times a week.

Cellini's Perseus with the Head of Medusa

Cellini’s Perseus with the Head of Medusa

Ammannati's Fountain of Neptune

Ammannati’s Fountain of Neptune

Rimini

Rimini is a beach town on the east coast of Italy. All of their economy is based on summer vacation related activities, which means that if you go in other than the season, the town is DEAD. We arrived kind of late, as usual, and checked into the Erbavoglio hotel –which we booked through Ultimate Rewards once again) and immediately asked for directions to the closest ice cream shop, they laughed and explained gelato is “only for summer”, to which we laughed and asked for directions to the closest gelateria anyway. After walking the streets of the dark ghost town, we got to the gelateria, which had been closed since last summer and started walking back to the hotel. We found a casino where they sold gelato and since beggars can’t be choosers, we had a few scoops at that place. The guy looked like he hadn’t seen another soul in hours so he was happy to practice his broken English with us till we were done with our coni. Quick pro tip about gelato: the more colorful they look, the worse they are; real artisanal gelato does not have bright artificial colors. All in all, it looks like Rimini would be a fantastic summer destination as there are tons of really modern hotels and restaurants that look like new builds and really pretty, however they were all shut down for the winter at that time. Note: the hotel did not have AC, but it did have Climate Control. Once again, we slept with our windows open… No pictures of this city as all we did was eat, sleep, and watch ridiculously racy mattress infomercials on TV:

 

San Marino

San Marino is a beautiful place to visit…

View from the top

View from the top

for about maybe 3 hours. It has the looks of a medieval city on the side of a mountain overlooking a valley, however, it seems to have been turned into a giant open air mall as about 80% of the old town area is now chintzy stores carrying fake Prada and Louis Vuitton pleather bags and artisanal souvenirs made in China.

Stores and more stores

Stores and more stores

The architecture though is stunning and walking around and all the way up to the castle is a great way to explore the city-state, which happens to be the oldest republic in the world.

Guaita Fortress

Guaita Fortress

Also, don’t forget to send your grandma a post card!

There you go, Milena

There you go, Milena

Author: Ben Nickel-D'Andrea

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