May 23, 2014
Day 5: Arrivederci Rome, Ciao Tuscany
Women's Basketball: The Italian Blog

Leaving Rome today was bittersweet, and the rain reflected our mood to an extent. It’s never fun to leave one of the most historical and beautiful cities in the world, but we were all excited to see what Florence had to hold.

The bus ride from Rome to Florence was long, but in no way was it boring. For the majority of the trip we saw beautiful rolling hills with houses dispersed in random fashion amongst olive trees: creating a picturesque view with fences and cattle in the foreground. As we approached the city of Florence it was still raining, but this did not take away from the beauty of the city; if anything, it added to it. The first thing we did when we arrived was go to the museum where the original statue of Michelangelo's David stands.

Of course we’ve all heard of, and seen photos of, Michelangelo’s most famous piece of work, but all photos pale in comparison to the real thing. Standing at 13 feet and weighing 7 tons and when you’re standing less than a metre away, you are awe struck. When admiring the precision and accuracy of the art, you realise that it is not just a statue, but it also tells a story. The sculpting of the facial expression was so well thought-out that the right side of the face exudes an air of confidence, while the left side - the sinister side - displays uneasiness and a sense of worry as David heads into his battle against Goliath. After seeing the statue I have come to realise that neither picture nor detailed description can do justice; the statue is something that you have to see in person in order to truly appreciate its beauty.

With the sun shining and the rain holding off, we then headed out to do a walking tour of the city. The city is completely different than Rome, but just as beautiful. The cobble stone streets were narrow and filled with boutiques, and while it was quite busy, the crowds were not nearly as frantic as they were in Rome.

The first monument that we was saw the Cathedral (The Duomo) which is the fifth biggest Cathedral in the world. The size and structure of the building was intimidating, yet stunning. Each side of the building evoked an ethereal sense that took your breath away.

When the walking tour was over we had almost an hour of free time to go off on our own to either shop, or continue sightseeing. While walking around, Kelsey, Maddi, and I found a small café tucked away on a side street, away from the hustle and bustle. After a quick snack we all decided that we had just had the most delicious cappuccino of our lives. The café encompassed the general aura of Florence: quaint and authentic, despite being a large, tourist city.

The highlight of the day was having to opportunity to do a cheese, olive oil, and balsamic vinaigrette tasting. We were all seated at small tables and brought various cheeses, olive oils, and vinaigrettes to taste with our bread. It was a great experience because it allowed for some of us to try things that we wouldn’t have previously tried, and we also got to have a relaxing hour chatting amongst ourselves in a great place listening to great music on vinyl.

When the tasting was over, we headed back to the bus to continue our trip to Montecatini, where we will be staying the next few nights. The hotel is historic and captures the feeling of Italy. The courtyard in the back has paths winding through trees with the tops of buildings peeking over.

Once we were settled into the hotel, we met as a group and headed out for dinner. It was a short walk to the restaurant, and once seated there we knew it would be a great meal. In typical Italian fashion there were multiple courses: the first was a pasta with freshly shaved parmesan cheese, the second was roast beef and chicken, with a side of cooked vegetables, and last but not least dessert was tiramisu (which did not disappoint!). A perfect meal to set us up for a visit to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and game day tomorrow!

- Sami Hill #25

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