Amsterdam & Italy 2011: Day 8 - David and lots of trains; Florence to Monterossa al Mare 22Apr2011

Can it be that this is the same day that we were covered in goose bumps walking down the grand hall of the Academia Gallery in Florence? What followed was a series of Amazing Race incidents with trains to lead us to Monterosso al Mare for the Cinque Terre portion of our journey.

Michelangelo’s David exceeded expectations this morning at the Academia. The museum begins with religious artwork from 1200 AD -1600 AD and then you enter the hall that was builit in the 1873 specifically for David and the “slaves” or prisoners that Michelangelo helped to free from the marble. The size cannot be imagined nor can the detail. Every muscle, bone, artery and vein is visible and the biggest stunner - not circumscised?!

In Daniel’s words from his diary:

“at the Academia museum you won’t believe what I saw…more Jesus paintings from when he was a baby to when he died and maybe you might just find some paintings of his toenails.”

The funniest thing he said was when we got to a painting on the first floor and Daniel said:

“This is a very special place where we are standing. Oh, you mean a special moment in Jesus’s life? No…this is a spot where…Rick Steves once stood!”

For those who don’t know it, Rick Steves has became the latest guru when it comes to travelling in Europe, has written guidebooks, created a TV series and other tourists and even scam artists are sure to have his book in hand.

Another unexpected highlight for me at the Academia was the music history gallery. Seeing the only remaining Medici Stradivarius Viola and one of the first ever upright pianoforte’s ever made was a unique experience as a lover of music.

Arriving at the train station in Florence, we took a train an hour earlier than planned but it was NOT the direct train. We jumped out at Pisa, realizing that the train we were on was not going to end up in La Spezia only by looking at the sign in the station and Laura asking a staffer in the station. There was a train heading to La Spezia very soon on the same track (2)…or so we thought. It turned out there was a track 2 West…we ran but were three minutes too late so back to another platform for the next train after grabbing some food in the station.

Eventually we did get to Monterossa el Mare via La Spezia and it is incredible. Dinner at Il Brigantino and gelato of course, at Nuevo Eden, a walk through the old city, and back to our hotel after Dena and I photographed our brains out. We are now back at Hotel Cinque Terre for the night and start out tomorrow along the coastal trails that join the Cinque Terre.