During our second week in Italy we explored the Tuscan region by train, visiting Florence, Viareggio, and Siena.

Rome-Florence train Rome-Florence train

The train between Rome and Florence was a super fast one, with a camera on the the front of it and a monitor inside. We got up to 250 km/h, making my ears pop.

View from the Rome-Florence train.  View from the Rome-Florence train.

Florence

Florence was a much different experience for me this time, as we wandered around the streets, seeing places I hadn’t seen 15 years ago. Of course it’s bound to be different with a husband and children in tow!

Playgrounds were not on my itinerary in 2001! This one was close to the apartment   Playgrounds were not on my itinerary in 2001! This one was close to the apartment

We climbed all 463 steps up to the top of the Duomo for a beautiful view of Florence. We also decided to check out the Galileo museum, where Galileo’s telescope is on display.

Yes! We made it to the top!  I can't imagine doing this in summer. Yes! We made it to the top!  I can’t imagine doing this in summer. Inside the Duomo. It's the largest brick dome in the world and a World Heritage site. The portrayal of Hell is quite graphic and violent. Inside the Duomo. It’s the largest brick dome in the world and a World Heritage site. The portrayal of Hell is quite graphic and violent. Anthony checking out Galileo's telescopes   Anthony checking out Galileo’s telescopes

We had tried to visit the Galleria d’Academia earlier in the day, where the statue of David is located, but the line was too long. We decided to try again on our way back to the apartment and this time there was no line. I realized that I had only seen the replica when I was in Florence before. It also has a small museum of musical instruments, which the girls were quite taken with.

Testing an early harpsichord and piano key Testing an early harpsichord and piano key We also visited a perfumery, where you can get custom perfumes. I am sensitive to scents, so no perfume for me, but it was interesting to learn how perfumes are made.  We also visited a perfumery, where you can get custom perfumes. I am sensitive to scents, so no perfume for me, but it was interesting to learn how perfumes are made.

The next day we visited the Uffizi Gallery, with it’s many busts, statues and paintings. The girls had audio-guides and were quite into it at first, though tired as the afternoon wore on. It has a ton of Renaissance art, but was not as over the top as the Vatican museums.

Amy showing me a Centaur, the symbol of Sagittarius (Amy's astrological sign).  Amy showing me a Centaur, the symbol of Sagittarius (Amy’s astrological sign).

Viareggio

Next, it was off to Viareggio. The  train to Viareggio was a regional one and didn’t have a snack/drink service like the super fast one, but was comfortable nonetheless.

Our arrival started off badly, as we couldn’t seem to get a taxi from the apartment, find an open laundromat or restaurant. On top of that it started to rain. The day got better as we found somewhere to eat and learned that the laundromat opened at 3pm. Once we got back to the apartment the girls had some good wrestle time, finished their homework and watched a movie.

Finally, a restaurant that's open! Finally, a restaurant that’s open!

Coming to Viareggio just for Carnevale was definitely worth it as the parade didn’t disappoint. In the morning we watched the floats get into position, got our masks and confetti, and went on a couple of rides.

Carnevale is a time to dress up...kind of like Halloween!  Carnevale is a time to dress up…kind of like Halloween!

The parade was started in 1873 by the citizens, poking fun at politicians, in protest of high taxes. This year’s parade featured German Chancellor  Angela Merkel in many floats, as well as Hillory Clinton in a couple. My favorite was the Barbarians chopping off David’s head.

One of the more political floats  One of the more political floats I'll have your head!  I’ll have your head!

Siena

Then, it was onto Siena. Unfortunately, we had to change trains from Viareggio to Siena and it was in that process that Anthony left his backpack on the overhead rack of the first train. We waited at the Empoli train station most of the afternoon while he tried, to no avail, to get it back. The rest of the day was a bust, as it was raining and we were pretty drained from the whole bag incident. Luckily, we had another beautiful apartment in the historic center to relax in.

Train to Siena. It rained all day!  Train to Siena. It rained all day! Yay! A nice warm room to watch our show in!  Yay! A nice warm room to watch our show in!

Today, we explored some of the Piazzas in the morning, and the Duomo in the afternoon. This Duomo is quite different on the inside than the one in Florence. It has art in the floor, as well as glass floors. The stain glass windows were beautiful.

Running around in the historic, medevil Piazza del Campo Running around in the historic, medevil Piazza del Campo A broader view of Piazza del Campo A broader view of Piazza del Campo Inside the Duomo Inside the Duomo

Tuscany vs. Rome

Anthony is in his forte here and likes each new place more than the last (with the exception of Viareggio). The Italian in him is definitely coming out. I, myself, am more of an ancient Roman kind of gal, which probably speaks to my Northern European roots.

Anthony loved walking around Siena Anthony loved walking around Siena

I much prefer the order, discipline and practical works of the Romans, than the overindulgent nature of the Florentines. How many marble statues and paintings of men (nude or otherwise) do we really need?

David of David and Goliath fame, though I don't think he was nude when he fought Goliath David of David and Goliath fame, though I don’t think he was nude when he fought Goliath

We are still getting used to the later dinner hour, as restaurants don’t serve dinner until 7pm. It was the same in India.

We capped our first day in Siena off with some delicious homemade pasta at Trattoria Dino We capped our first day in Siena off with some delicious homemade pasta at Trattoria Dino

Next, it’s off to Parma before spending our last week in Naples. It’s hard to believe we fly back in 2 weeks! This trip has definitely flown by!

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