Sunday, September 21, 2014

Florence, Venice, and the Power of Pasta

Last Thursday, as Geneva was shut down due to a public fasting day (on which no one ever actually fasts, according to those more in-the-know than me), and the ILO graciously gave us the Friday after off (thank you exalted Guy Rider, Director General of the ILO, for realizing that no one would come in on Friday), myself and my fellow Cornell ILR interns hopped on a plane and jet set ourselves to Italy for the weekend. And, oh my, what a glorious weekend it was.

We arrived in Venice on Thursday night, exhausted and missing one member, our fellow intern Cyerra, who had had appendicitis the week before (In honor of her, our first drink of wine--and all subsequent toasts after--were to her and her appendix.). But we rallied for a late dinner at an (apparently) American bar that seemed extremely Italian to us Americans, at least in my opinion. And we dined on some delicious food (I had black ink pasta with crab throughout, then finished by sharing a fruit strudel and tiramisu. Yummmm.) And then there was some gelato, and then our hotel, and our first day was over.
Awww aren't they cute...and slightly blurry....
Our second day we hopped the train to Florence in the morning, met up with our apartment renter (Guys, if you want cheap, amazing accommodations for a relatively large It's amazing.) and after a brief respite of wifi access (the most important thing, really) and figuring out what to do next, off we went. We headed to the Duomo and the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (and, yes, I did just google that because like any sane group of people we referred to it as the Duomo our entire trip) for a look at the line and some pictures--long and tiresome looking, and group shots that may not exist anymore (more on that later).

And then off! To the Accademia Gallery, where we waited in line for an hour and saw David, along with several other rooms full of religious paintings (not really my style, so you'll forgive me if I gloss over them) and a room full of plaster casts and sculptures of various goddesses, saints, and public figures (much more in my realm of entertainment). Of course, before going there, we stopped along the way for a short break into the Dante museum, located in the poet's home (unfortunately, not much to see here, but it was cool being in Dante's home!). And, being thoroughly exhausted after our 3 hour train, the walking around, and the long hours spent waiting for and touring the Accademia, we returned to our apartment (cause airbnb is awesome!) and decided where to go for dinner. A little Osteria a couple blocks away supplied us plenty of pasta, and wine, and it was glorious! (My favorite thing about Italy may have been all the food that's way to expensive in Geneva).

The next day, it was rainy, but we headed out (sort of) early to the Duomo and St. Maria's Basilica. After that, when the day had started to turn sunny, we headed to another square which had more museums (including the Gucci museum) and a lot of statues--I believe from my google search it was Palazzo Vecchio. There, myself and my only other female companion decided we would detour to the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum for some fashion (and afterwards, if shopping occurred, well....). A pretty cool museum, all and all. Much of it was about how Ferragamo studied walking and the human foot in order to create an amazing shoe. Some was about art of feet, walking, dance, trapeze, and acrobatics. My audio guide stopped working in english after the Ferragamo and feet study part, so I'm not entirely sure what was going on. (On a side note, I really like audio tours or guided tours because I feel like I get a lot of information without having to rush).

And, yes, afterwards, shopping did occur.

And then there was food, and pasta, and some wine, and our second day in Florence was over. The next day, we headed back to Venice.

There, we again split (another reason I like traveling in larger groups is that you can split and spend time with different people), and most of the group (including me) checked out Piazza San Marco after a very long walk. Yes, several times over the walk we did feel like we were lost. But we weren't! We checked out the Museum Correr, and several others, all of which are interconnected and hard to distinguish. Then we headed to the Doge Palace. Which was, in a word, amazing. There were stairs of gold and a Bridge of Sighs (leading to the prison), an armory with pointy things that reminded me of being in England and wielding pointy things (no one should really allow me around sharp, pointy weapons. I get too excited), and a room of the Senate meetings which had a clock for the hour and a clock for the astrological sign. After Doge, we split again. I headed off on my own to do some shopping (a mask, a watercolor, some gifts. That kind of thing), and then we reconvened for dinner. Which was delicious. We had mussels in delicious sauce, I had spaghetti with various types of delicious seafood, I ate off the plate of my fellow interns of their delicious fish and amazing sauce (another reason to travel with more people--more opportunities for food in one meal!). Yes, we did share many bites of each other's dishes. And, yes, it was delicious, and no, we did not care about germs. If you had tasted the food, you wouldn't have cared either.

Tim kept stepping into all my shots. Darn you Tim.
Sitting around...let's take out the sketchpad so we're not so creepy.
As exhausted as we were (and I know I keep saying that, but none of us really got a full night's sleep until the last day, which was the day I am now describing), we went to our hotel (back on the cheap mainland, checked in, and fell into bed. And did not rouse until 10 or 11 the next morning. Checked out, headed back to the islands (where our train back to Geneva was to be), checked our bags at the train station, picked up a few gifts for our missing comrade, and hopped into a gondola. Somewhere along the way, a phone was stolen, pictures being lost (remember I mentioned it earlier?), but despite the trauma of the situation, we put it out of our mind in order to enjoy the gondola ride (which I view as something you absolutely must do, at least your first time, in Venice, so I was very happy), and the subsequent lunch. Which included more amazing seafood, and more sharing of plates, and more delicious wine. And, then, we were back on our way to Geneva, ready for work Monday morning!

Exhausted? So was (am) I.

There are actually more pictures, I just haven't uploaded them to Facebook or google or anything yet.

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