The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Florence: Day 14, Part 1 (More Climbing! Sweet!)

[A note of sorts: While I originally planned on making this one unbearably long entry, it was becoming unbearably long, thus I'm splitting it into two parts. I'm also getting sleepy because it's almost 2 AM. And it shows in this entry's writing. Dammit.]

looking outside
Looking out from the Duomo, which you will read about much later.

The time had come.

...To go to Florence.

...And look at old stuff.

Oh, we also ate stuff. I'll try to get through the non-food stuff rather quickly, which should be easy since my knowledge of history is somewhere in the range of "you suck" and "How the hell did you graduate high school?" I'm hoping that photos will be semi-sufficient.


Morten, Kåre and I naturally made our first stop at the famed CRAZY-ASS DUOMO (not the real name, just my creation). So tall. So grand. So painstakingly detailed. So...uniquely green and pink, mildly reminding me of a watermelon. How long did it take to build this thing? 170 years? I guess it was worth the wait. Too bad all the people who worked on it on the beginning were decaying in the ground by the time it was even halfway done.

spacious ornate floor

The inside was surprisingly just a tiny fraction as ornate as the outside. Daniel pointed out that all the statues and ornaments that had once lived inside had been moved to the accompanying museum, hence the lack of fancy stuff inside the Duomo. The floor was rather fancy though. Lots of circles. Roundness. ...Yep. (How obvious is it that I've never taken an art history or architecture class or anything remotely related to those two? Sigh.)

painting inside the dome
Huge ass painting

Don't forget about the huge-ass painting on the ceiling depicting The Last Judgment. I could appreciate the beauty from far away, but upon close inspection it was rather creepy. More on that later.

Some nice shadows

There were shadows inside the Duomo. Not holy shadows, just your run of the mill obstruction of light.

Well...that's an awesome way to tell time

The clock on the wall, it did nothing.

Be decent, per favore

After we left the Duomo, we came across an interesting sign in a nearby small open space. "IT IS PROHIBITED TO: LIE DOWN, CAMP OR BEHAVE IN A INDECENT WAY." Okay. Vague, but I guess that covers just about everything.

Oo, statues
Oo, statues

On the way to the Uffizi Gallery we passed the Piazza della Signoria where there were lots of tourists taking photos of lots of statues. And yes, I was one of those tourists, but I just took this one photo. Didn't make any gratuitous Asian peace signs next to Hercules or a giant lion. I found it crazy that some of these statues were originals, just sitting out there, in the open. I guess if anything bad happened they would be moved somewhere else.

Uffizi Gallery

As we passed the Uffizi Gallery, aka "that museum in Florence that everyone goes to because it's full of really famous stuff," we were perplexed to find its surrounding area strangely empty. How could this be?

...Well, it's closed on Monday, that's how. Oh shit. Don't go to Florence on a Monday.

Ponte Vecchio Ponte Vecchio
Ponte Vecchio

We decided to check out the Ponte Vecchio since it was a major landmark that wasn't closed. I mean, it's a bridge; I think it has to stay open.

It looked quite cute and charming from afar with its squodgy uneven buildings squeezed against one another in a cartoonish fashion, but when we actually got there we found out it was just a bunch of jewelry shops. Or rather, I found out it was just a bunch of jewelry shops; Morten and Kåre probably knew already. Why jewelry shops? Daniel jumped in again to say, "according to one theory, because the jewelers once got banned from the city and also for tax exemption purposes. So they set up shop on the only place left: The bridge of ponte vecchio."

And this is where you can find shops with names like "THE GOLDEN RIVER," which for some reason makes me think of pee. God, what's wrong with my brain? (Don't answer that—I know better than anyone else what's wrong with my brain.)

After all that walking and sweating and failure to increase our cultural awareness by breathing in museum fumes, we decided we may as well feed ourselves. Not that we knew where such feeding would take place.

Lady Bar

So we stumbled into the...Lady Bar. Lady Bar? We had no idea where the name came from. They had pizza. That's what mattered.

pizza by the kilogram

Their pizza selection was sold by the kilogram and contained all kiiiinds of beautiful toppings (well, meats and shrooms and vegetables and the like, much more appealing than what I could get at home). The woman behind the counter would take your slice, let it get semi-toasty and melty in the open oven type thing (which hopefully has a better name than that) and neatly cut it into two pieces before weighing it.

my pizza

Kåre and I had our eyes set on the same pizza topped with raw tomatoes, chunks of mozzarella, arugula and loose corn kernels. The combination of the colors and raw stuffs looked very pretty, even if the corn was a little out of place. Oh, and it tasted good. Just take the awesomeness of mozzarella and tomato but add a soft, chewy slab of bread to it. Glorious carbs.

Morten's pizzas
Morten's pizza slices

Since Morten was somewhat hungrier than we were, he ordered two slices of pizza, one laden with mushrooms, the other topped with capers and mozzarella.

Time to go
We were the only ones sitting up here. Um.

Without much reason to step back into the outside world where it was hot and tourist-filled, we spent a pretty long time hanging out in our booth (hippest place ever) doing god knows what. Sitting. Talking. Acting silly. Those tend to be our top three activities, replacing "sitting" with "walking" in the appropriate situation.

But we couldn't sit forever. Because we had to climb...


...THIS GODDAMN (actually, it was probably not damned by God being a cathedral and all, but let's not get too technical here) THING OF MASSIVE VERTICAL PROPORTIONS, OH SWEET JESUS.

Yeah, we walked up those 463 painful steps to the roof of the Duomo, a journey that was far more muscle failure-inducing than walking up to San Luca in addition to being mightily uncomfortable since the stairwell up to the roof was not designed with transporting hoards of tourists in mind. It was quite narrow and steep at times. Don't get me wrong—it was really cool to walk through what felt like the dark, dusty artery of an amazing historical structure whose engineering I would never be able to understand, but that kind of thing is difficult to appreciate when all that runs through you mind is, "OH MY GAWD, HOW MANY MORE STEPS? THE LUNGS DEMAND ANSWERS. AND THE LEGS."

Kåre is a ghost blurry

The un-athletically challenged Morten was, as usual, somewhere far in the distance. And Kåre, as usual, took pity on my disabled-slug-like pace and lagged behind, perhaps giving me a hug whenever I looked like I was on the verge of keeling over and in need of some kind of spiritual boost.

on the way up
Ah, no stairs...for a while

At one point closer to the end of the climb we walked behind some not very aesthetically plastic barriers on a narrow platform along the inner rim of the painted dome. And that's when I saw the lovely depiction of the devil or some other ugly thing torturing lots of naked people. I guess they didn't deserve God's sweet sweet lovin'. Or clothing. Sucks for them. That's the kind of painting that would give me nightmares and cold sweats if I had to see it every day.

After escaping the vision of people getting things stuck up their butts or other orifices I'd rather not think about, the passage became narrower. The oxygen level dropped. I felt faint. Oh boy, we were almost there! We pressed our bodies against the wall as tourists descending from the roof passed us by "It's not much father!" they assured us.

Florence from above view over Florence
Ah, relief

We were finally rewarded with sunlight. Sweet sweet sunlight. And clear, fresh air. And a beautiful view overlooking the red rooftops of Florence. In the end the view is always worth the climb.


I was surprised by how many people ended up fitting on the roof. It didn't feel very big to me, but it wasn't crowded despite that we were walking behind a gajillion people. Or less. Probably less. Most of the columns were mildly defaced by messages scrawled on by tourists, 30% of which seemed to be in Korean (although I'm sure every major language was represented somewhere on those columns). Supposedly there's a huge fine for such vandalism, but I don't think it's a highly monitored area. (Not that I recommend writing "BOB WUZ HERE" or anything.)

More sitting!

In need of some rest, we plopped our bums in front of a section of the barrier that ran around the edge of the roof. Did more of the sitting/talking/acting silly thing. Or maybe I was the one acting silly, as I tend to do.


Morten didn't appreciate being photography. Fine, I SEE HOW IT IS. YOU CAN TAKE A PHOTO OF ROBYN WITH A GIANT BASKET ON HER HEAD but when I wanna take a photo of Morten sitting he's all like, "Talk to the hand."

time to go back down
Goin down

Sadly, we couldn't sit on our asses all day. At least not on the roof of the Duomo; surely I could sit all day in the right situation. My butt can mold to any chair.

The entrance back into the Duomo was also the exit from the Duomo onto the roof, basically a weeny hole where people constantly came up and down. People were mostly coming up. I think we had to just be like, "OH MY GOD, LET US THROUGH" to halt the onslaught of people—otherwise we would've been stuck there forever.

The trip back down was much better than the one going up. Gravity was on our side, for one thing. Unburdened by a burning sensation in my legs and lungs, my brain was able to form thoughts about the passageway. "Was there a time when people have to walk through this every day? Damn, that job must've sucked ass." (I didn't claim to have eloquent thoughts. Just...thoughts.)

high up
Back in the dome

We had to walk along the dome again. In the photo you can see the lower passage used on the way up.

behind the protective windows
Behind the plastic windows

And here's Kåre and Morten...and part of the nightmare-inducing section of the painting.

peeking out
We were way up there

We stumbled back out into the sunlight, but on the ground. Yay! We accomplished something! And burned some calories!

A pretty church

We stumbled some more. Like past the Basilica of Santa Croce, which we didn't go into.



Lorelei / October 31, 2007 10:18 AM

Oh man, Florence. Too bad about the Uffizi - that was the highlight of my trip. It deserved a full week of exploration, but we zipped through the exhibits like rabbits on crack (which meant very fast, I guess) and all I remember was getting reprimanded by a guard as we were breathing a little too heavily on a painting. We even got a tour of the Vasari Corridor, which was supremely awesome! I hope the next bit has more photos of food. And gelato.

Christina / October 31, 2007 10:31 AM

Ooh, no Uffizi. It has some really fantastic examples of early Northern Renaissance art in among all the Italian Renaissance work. Darn.

The pizza looked delicious though.

Yuizaki / October 31, 2007 10:40 AM got to see it without all the restoration scaffolding and stuff. Because that is what we saw when we went there a while back. xD

...I'm kind of jealous of your pizza consumption. I don't think I even ate like 5 slices when I was in Italy.

Marvin / October 31, 2007 11:35 AM

Great pictures Robyn. I too ventured up the steps of the Duomo to the top and was taken aback by the creepy paintings on the ceiling. Sadly though, I missed out on any pizza consumption while I was in Florence.

Can't wait for your next post.

susannah / October 31, 2007 12:47 PM

ahh, florence is beautiful. i was the only one who wanted to climb the duomo when i was there, so i didn't do and now i seriously regret it. did you get a chance to see the david? maybe thats coming in part 2?

Christina / October 31, 2007 1:14 PM

Lol, the caption under the fourth picture -- innards?. Again, lol!

Those pictures are great. It's mind-boggling that they built all of that.

And that pizza is much better, I'm sure, than the "pizza buffet" at CiCi's Pizza (they have a pizza with macaroni as a topping... Though actually, and I might be saying this because I'm hungry, it sounds better now than it looked then).

Morten / October 31, 2007 3:35 PM

Macaroni? Now that's atrocious!

That's like what they did in the canteen of the law faculty the other day. They served spaghetti with rice. WITH rice. Honestly. Do these people have no shame? What I want to do to people like that is scaringly similar to the paintings in the Duomo of Florence.

Paola / October 31, 2007 3:55 PM

Ohhhh Florence, I haven't been there since... OMG way too much time. But I recall that I too found the Uffizi closed... maybe was it a monday again? LOL!

And my brain must be somehow similar to yours, as my first though about "The Golden River" was exactly the same... maybe I've just had too many cups of tea today....

And I had one more laugh reading the comment scribbled on the sign in the photo forbidding to lie down (etc)... typical "funny" attitude, it says (re: prohibition to lie down or get comfortable etc) something that I might traslate as "but what about putting in a couple of benches, then?" LOL I can totally imagine the voice of someone saying that!

Tahlia / October 31, 2007 5:00 PM


ok, i am totally understandable about the camping and behaving in an indecent way part...but lying down? What happens if you faint? Or fall over? How would you explain that to security?

That pizza looks AMAZING- I would never had though to use fresh ingredients. Most of the ingredients I use come from cans/jars only to be cooked into a melty slab of bread and cheese. And slightly burnt

I also loved the thickness of the crust- while thin crusts are good at least you know the thicker ones will hold the ingredients (particularly handy if you pile them on like me)

Awesome post- cant wait to read part 2 (Yes, even the non-food related parts ^^)

roboppy / October 31, 2007 5:32 PM

Lorelei: Oh yes, food is a-coming! We had to do something with all our time not spent in the museum! Hehe!..hehe...(sob)

Christina: I guess I'll have to go back on MY NEXT TRIP!...whenever that may be. If ever. :(

Yuizaki: Not even 5 slices! Well. You'll correct that the next time you're in Italy.

Marvin: Oh, missing out on pizza in Florence isn't a big deal. Missing out on the steak would suck though! (Oo, that's for the next entry..bwahaa.)

Susannah: I probably wouldn't have volunteered to climb the Duomo, but Morten suggested it soo..yeah!

Oh no, I didn't see the David. We didn't plan on seeing it, but that gallery was closed on Mondays too. OH WELL!!!

Christina: Okay, MACARONI AS A TOPPING...that is new to me. I've never heard of CiCi's pizza; they don't have any locations in my area. Hmm.

Oh dear, I see the mac and cheese pizza on their site. IT'S REAL.

I might try that once.


If you ever go to Japan you should check out Pizza Hut. You'd probably wanna die. I would like to try a pizza topped with mochi at least once though.

Paola: We had bad luck. :( BOO ON MONDAYS.

Yeah, who needs benches. Just have an open space that is TOTALLY USELESS.

Tahlia: If you faint, the cops will GET YOU.

And ask for your passport.

It was a nice pizza. Not remarkable, but not disappointing. Thick crusts suck when the bread is some tasteless slab with a boring texture, but that crust was nice, like focaccia. Mmm.

dana / November 1, 2007 12:17 AM

harharhar! I had no clue the Italians were into *that* style of painting, especially on their cathedrals. I thought it was strictly the Flemish like Bosch who was so darn obsessed with such ... detailed...depictions. The medievals were sick.

That pizza though....hmmm....could use some now.

Yukari / November 1, 2007 2:41 AM

Dude, that pizza looks delish. *jaw drop* The only pizza I've ever had are those from Pizza Hut or Papa John's or Costco...sad, isn't it? =/

Daisy / November 1, 2007 6:39 AM

I was in Florence last week. On a Monday.

And yes, I agree. It occasionally isn't fun. Better than being in Germany though; I hear everything is closed.

I think I lived across the street from that church though I was too lazy to climb up those stairs. Yay to Florence and their delicious rectangular oven-baked pizzas!

whitney / November 1, 2007 10:18 PM

hey do you know the name of the church? duomo refers to a general church if Im not mistaken (I could be), and the wiki link to the painting just speaks about the christian term judgement day, but I can't find references to the painting at all. For some reason it intrigues me in a creepy perverted way.

If ya don't know or if you already said the name and Im blind, then thats ok and I apologize!

That korean pizza menu looks wicked!

Christina / November 1, 2007 10:27 PM

Whoa -- rice with spaghetti? I... honestly don't know what to say... I'll never repeat that to my great-aunt. Because she's Italian... And she'll throw me out of the house for even mentioning it.

roboppy / November 1, 2007 11:07 PM

Dana: ...I'm so glad I didn't live during the medieval times.

Yukari: OH. DEAR. GOD. I hope you have access to other kinds of pizza...or if not, you will try other pizza someday. God knows I grew up on Pizza Hut, but I don't think I'd go back there. Yeaaah.

Daisy: Monday!...


Whitney: I didn't clarify it very well, sorry! It's just called Florence when you're in Florence you can just call it THE CATHEDRAL, but outside of Florence you have to be more specific. -__- Here's more info about the painting, and some closeups.

Christina: Have you seen the movie Big Night? In one of the first scenes (or maybe it is the first) a woman in the Italian restaurant orders risotto and spaghetti, which makes the chef flip out. It's great. The movie. And that scene.

eatyourheartout / November 4, 2007 11:31 PM

Wow... that clock looks insane. Like... a time warp clock.

I'm very amused by Morten's "talk to the hand" photo and his "no-photography" policy. Pssssh. I didn't get that indication for the days I was staying!

Boots in the Oven / November 13, 2007 3:50 PM

Sorry I'm jumping in all late here... there's another theory about the gold sellers on the Ponte Vecchio. Before the Medici built the Vasari Corridor, the bridge was full of butchers ('cause they could drop things into the river?). Apparently this was rather smelly, as the Medici found when they had to walk over it every day, so they threw the butchers out and invited the goldsellers in. Less stinky, plus more money in taxes.

Lord knows which is closer to the truth... there's so much freaking history there it's silly.

roboppy / November 13, 2007 11:58 PM

Boots in the Oven: Better late than never! :)

Thanks for the possibly accurate history lesson! Butchers to, ok.

And I was just around the corner from your former apartment? Man, what a great place to live. BY THE GELATO!! ...And in Florence. And stuff. Yes.

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