Tuesday was work day. This week, Nick had the girls preparing the Vernatsch vineyard up the hill by again removing the grapes spoiled by the vinegar flies and bees. The boys went with Jon, one of the farm hands, and planted chestnut trees.
They said it was really tough work, as they were planting them on a steep slope riddled with rocks that they had to break through. After a hearty lunch, I went back with Ashley, Jon’s girlfriend, to pick more bad grapes from the vine. The rest of the group collected chestnuts. After dinner, the group retired to the croft and relaxed after a hard day.
Wednesday morning was filled with class, and instructions on what to visit and do while in Florence. We received our extra money from Gloria and got instructions about the early train departure the next day from Tony. In class, after reading Canto XIII, which most of us declared to be our favorite so far; Mary strongly encouraged us to see Santa Croce, “If you do not go see this church, I will have to skin you!” She was only halfway serious.That afternoon, most of us read for Sizzo’s class and hung our fresh laundry out to dry in the croft because it was sprinkling outside. The work-studies had the pleasure of cleaning the chicken coop and harvesting more chestnuts, needless to say they enjoyed every second of it. After our night class, the group decided to go out for dinner before we cleaned the croft to prepare for our departure.
The walk to the pizzeria had an amazing view after the storm and it turned out to be a great dinner.
Thursday was the beginning of our trip for Florence. We had an early car ride to the train station (5:15) and were able to find the right platform and train number without too much trouble. Then we rode the train from Meran to Bolzano, and switched trains in order to go all the way to Florence.
We arrived at Florence around 12pm and then walked to our hostel, Plus Florence, which took us about 45 minutes. After we paid for the rooms, and put our luggage in the storage room, because check in was at 3pm, we walked around the city while Tony and Gloria checked into their hotel. On our walk, we arrived at Piazza della Repubblica to find a stage set up for later on that night when Iggy and the Three Stooges would be playing. We also found an interesting second hand store, Melrose Vintage Store, which sold some great things. Then we found our way back to the hostel where we moved into our rooms, took naps, showered, and got ready to go out for the night.We started out the night by eating in the hostel’s restaurant, and then went out to explore the streets of Florence. We stopped at any place that struck our fancy, and went down many small streets and stopped at a lot of small shops and restaurants. Our first big destination was the Iggy and the Three Stooges concert.
The free concert was packed with people and we held hands to avoid being separated as we push through the crowd. We stayed for about an hour and got to hear some great songs. After the concert, we walked around the Duomo and marveled at the architecture of the church. After this, we went to the club Twice, which was filled with tourists and locals alike. We only stayed for a little while because of the group trip which was planned for the morning.
Friday, we had an early wake up call at 8 for our group trip to the Accademia. Unfortunately when we got there, we learned that the public workers were on strike, so it was closed for the day. So instead, we used our money to climb to the top of Brunnelechi’s dome, which is part of the Santa Maria Cathedral.
After the amazing view from the top (436 steps) and seeing the spectacular frescoed ceiling, which we stood and studied for about 30 minutes, we decided to eat lunch. We went to the Oil Shoppe, it was a great place with unique sandwiches and everyone really enjoyed their sandwich. After lunch, we walked around the mercantile area and saw the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge with all of the jewelry shops.
That night, the group split up men and women and had fun walking the streets and talking to the locals in broken Italian and English. The boys stopped by a small church and enjoyed a live organ performance, while the girls stopped in different squares and observed the locals in action. Both groups went to a club and stayed for a little while before going back to the hostel to get some rest.
Saturday was our day to explore by ourselves. Sebastian, Mike, Danny, and Megan all explored the streets of Florence while Amber and I accompanied the Cates and went to both the Accademia Gallery and the Uffizi Gallery. Both of the Galleries were free because of European Heritage Days, and the only drawback was waiting almost three hours in line at both places.
The Accademia Gallery http://188.8.131.52/english/musei/accademia/ is home to Michelangleo’s the Prisoners, St. Matthew, and of course David. All of these works were breathtaking to see in person, especially David. There are also many religious paintings, a large collection of sculptures in plaster by Bartolini and Pampaloni, and even a collection of old musical instruments, which were very interesting. There even was a "Joke David" when you exited the Accademia, and you were allowed to take pictures there, unlike the rest of the real exhibits.
The Uffizi Gallery www.uffizi.com was huge. There are 45 rooms, all filled with splendid artwork. The list of paintings that took my breath away is too long to add here, but it truly was a wonderful experience. In both museums there were plenty of tour guides to eavesdrop on, so it is easy to learn some pretty interesting things about the art if you listen.When Amber and I finally returned back to the hostel it was 7:30pm, and we were exhausted because we had left for the Accademia at 8:30 that morning. We were lucky enough to catch the rest of the group in the room and were able to hear about their exciting day. They had found many shops and even returned to the Melrose Vintage Store in order to purchase a few deals they had seen there.
After a quick nap, the group, besides Amber, decided to go out and try to find the club that a local had told us about. It is called Tabasco, and is located in the crypt of Saint Cecilia, its cavernous interior is filled with a combination of antique statues, frescoed ceilings, and a fully functioning well from medieval times. Tabasco’s antiquities collide with modern accents to create a unique vibe and everyone who went loved it.
Sunday was a day of travel, with two trains and a bus back to Dorf Tirol. We arrived back at the croft around 3pm and napped or unpacked for the remainder of the night.
Submitted by: Ramsey Vogt