Excerpt from TravelMag:
It’s early when we get on the train in Rome to go to Florence. We are also hungry and for some reason, regardless of the time of day, I will crave an Amtrak cheeseburger when I board a train. Here’s a secret: If you ever crave an Amtrak cheeseburger you should probably seek help, immediately. A quick nap, rolling hills passing by, and rather quickly we arrive in Florence. Across from the train station we are greeted with a McDonald’s. Interesting is that there are no Starbucks in Italy. With no hesitation or discussion we grab a taxi and travel approximately 500 feet to our hotel. Our hotel is a Best Western that has to be one of the nicest of the chain, located a stones throw from The Duomo, and complete with a rooftop terrace and nightly wine tasting.
It’s still early so we leave our luggage and head to The Duomo and we grab a quick breakfast (ham and cheese sandwich for breakfast? Why Not?) and tour the inside of the chapel and do NOT wait in line to climb stairs to the top. Initial impression of Florence: Lots of tourists and lots of children. Around the corner from the Duomo area is a street with several pizzerias, including one named O’ Vesuvio which is where The Jersey Shore gang is currently filming and “working”. This particular day it appeared they were filming. We came to this conclusion from the shaved head security outside and the losers signing release forms in the side alley which could only look more degrading (and regrettable) if the clipboard said Taxi Cab Confessions.
The Piazza della Signoria is where you will find replica statues, including David as well as several museums surrounding the area. We gawk and then go to La Terrazza at La Rinascente, a rooftop terrace overlooking The Duomo and city of Florence. We drink wine and eat pasta and drink a little more wine and then go back and take another look at the statues and then walk through the markets where there is a wild boar. Put a coin in the boar’s mouth, if falls into the grate below you will someday come back to Florence. If not, a man comes out and cuts you with a knife. Actually that is not true; actually I don’t think any of it is true. With more time to kill before our reservation to see David at Museo de Accademia we decide it is time to try this must have Gelato that we see on every corner of this city. We order a small chocolate to share. It doesn’t take long to see why everyone (who isn’t smoking) is eating gelato. Then it happens. The ice cream is messy so Beth reaches in her bag for a “Wet Ones” wipe to clean off the ice cream from her face and hands. Instead she grabs an OFF mosquito repellent wipe (I am allergic to mosquitoes) and wipes her hands and face. Well it doesn’t take long before there is a mild allergic reaction and we are running down the street trying to find a bathroom. After stops at McDonald’s, a pharmacy, and several F bombs we arrive at the museum. Here’s a secret: Don’t wipe your mouth with OFF! Here’s another secret: Get your tickets ahead of time for a reserved time slot, or else you won’t get in. We go in and take pictures of David. Here’s another secret: Pictures are not allowed, but they aren’t really watching that closely. Is David as impressive as heard? It’s pretty close. The features are astounding and there is a presence to this statue that is missing in others. I have yet to rank the art I have seen in my lifetime, but when I do I will definitely put David ahead of the Mona Lisa. Italy 1 France 0.
Read the full column at TravelMag
David S. Grant is the author of several books. His latest novel, "BLOOD: The New Red" is now available. Go to http://www.silverthought.com/blood/ for more information. Follow David on twitter: .david_s_grant.