Mark Fetters/Staff Reporter
After a three-hour train ride from Rome, you end up in the beautiful little town of Florence. Standing in the center of town is the Cupola del Brunelleschi (Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower), which is the largest church in Florence. The construction of this Cathedral started in 1296 and was completed in 1436. The cathedral is a UNESCO world heritage site and is a major tourist attraction for visitors. With a step inside, the architecture is just as amazing as the outside- with high curved ceilings, tall pillars and stained glass all over.
A walk across the Arno River and up a few steps leads you to Piazzale Michelangelo (Michelangelo Square). While it is a little outside of the city, the climb up to it wis well worth the view it provides. With a full view of Florence for breathtaking pictures, the Cupola del Brunelleschi easily stands out as the largest structure in Florence. Also seen from the Piazzale is Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) that spans across the Arno; it appears to have homes that hang out of the edge and could fall at any time.
After walking inside and across the bridge, you will find shops that sell jewelry and souvenirs. The large tower you can see from Piazzale Michelangelo is Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace), a town hall for Florence. Walking around the square, many old statues from famous artists can be seen and some festival is always going on making it a great hang out location in Florence. The statue of David is something not to be missed in Florence. Michelangelo worked on the statue from 1501 to 1504; it is 14 feet tall and is on display in Accademia Gallery.
While my time in Florence was coming to an end, and I needed to head back to Rome, I thought I might go see another city in Italy on my way back: Pisa. Pisa is about a 30 minute train ride from Florence, and it is smaller than Florence making it an easily walkable city. The main attraction in Pisa is the Leaning Tower, and it is very easy to notice how much it leans. The tower was never meant to lean, during construction on soft ground the weight became too much and it started to lean. For a long time it leaned at an angle of 5.5 degrees; it now leans at 3.99 degrees due to safety anchors. The tower is also the site where Galileo dropped two cannonballs of different weights to prove that their speed would be the same. With a four-hour train ride ahead, it was time to head back to Rome where I would visit the Vatican and see the Pope.