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Inside of la cattedrale, there was a museum of ruins (scavi) down below – it was pretty impressive.  The layout was nice and clear, although there were so many different periods that the church was worked on that it became a little confusing.  But it was very interesting.  (taken 10.1.2015)

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And this is the magnificent cattedrale of Firenze – it has a very long history and was built over many different ruins/added onto many different times (it was a very complicated history for the church).  At the time of its creation, it was the largest cattedrale in Europe, and it’s rather simplistic style (beyond the frescoes on the inside of la cupola) was meant to represent piety.  (taken 10.1.2015)

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Our next stop was the center of Firenze, and it was much cheaper than Pisa.  For 10 Euro, we were able to visit il Battistero, la Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, il Campanile, la Cupola, and, I think, two museums that we didn’t visit.  But we started out at il Battistero, which was beautiful inside.  It is thought to have first been used by the Romans for pagan worship and later turned into a battistero – in fact, some of the original paintings still remain on the walls.  This specific battistero was also part of a famous artisan challenge.  Back in the Renaissance, Filippo Brunelleschi and Lorenzo Ghiberti were two finalists for getting the commission to create the doors to il battistero.  Ghiberti won the opportunity, unfortunately, and Brunelleschi really felt the blow to his pride (but in the end Brunelleschi is more well known in Firenze than Ghiberti).  (taken 10.1.2015)

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Our last stop on our wonderful sister-bonding trip was Firenze for two whole days.  And, let me tell you, Firenze is expensive – I got a 5 Euro hot chocolate!  Highway robbery!  But the first place we visited was the Central Market of Firenze, and it was huge and fancy.  There were two floors – the bottom had things like fruit, vegetables, meats, pasta (there was stall that was making pasta in front of you) and the top had restaurants and more delicate items like pastries.  We stopped at a few stalls and bought some yummy treats, like the chocolate squares above and the fresh bufala and tomato stick.  Perfect way to start our visitation of Firenze.  (taken 10.1.2015)

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We stopped by l’Ortico Botanico which was rather nice.  It’s the oldest horticulture garden in Europe – they don’t even know how old some of the plants are.  But it was very pretty.  I can only imagine what it looks like in spring/summer when the flowers are blooming.  (taken 9.1.2015)

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These are just some of the other sights around la Pizza dei Miracoli.  I really liked the broken/fallen angel – they had several of them but I’m not quite sure why they are there.  And the grass was immaculate – perfect stripes of dark versus light (when you mow it a specific way), and no one was walking on it (obviously because of the sign) but I have never seen grass like that before.  (taken 9.1.2015)

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All of the main attractions are at la Piazza dei Miracoli to the north (?) of the city.  These include: il Battistero, il Composanto, il Duomo, e la Torre pendente.  So we spent some time hanging out there, taking the typical tourist pictures of leaning against la torre and holding it up with our fingers.  We went into il duomo for a few minutes, and we wanted to climb la torre but it would cost us 18 Euros just for la torre!  18!  So we didn’t go up the tower (which didn’t lean as much as I though but I guess it’s all about perspective).  It was a nice, quick day trip.  To be honest though, I wouldn’t recommend going to Pisa.  Oh, and that day marked the third week that I was traveling over break – that’s a long time.  (taken 9.1.2015)