Part 7: Indulging within the beauty of Florence & Cinque Terre

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Day 18 / Florence

Took the 927 train from Venice to Florence. We arrived at 1135am!

Anyway, you might be seeing firenze (italian name of florence) more often. Just so you know, florence mountains are rumored to be the background of mona lisa =p

Thanks to my brilliant planning, we had no problem locating our hostel, which was 2 streets away.

We stayed at Ostello Archi Rossi – booked from hostelclub website. We had a triple private room which comes with an attached toilet. It’s a rather large hostel which comes with a breakfast set every morning. You will get to choose from 9 choices and there’s some side snacks in case you’re not full!

Breakfast at dorm:Omelette with toast! photo 477899_10151038380296209_1866957748_o.jpg

It was a saturday and after we placed our luggage at the storage area, we took a map and roamed around the area and we stumbled upon the religious centre which houses the Palazzo Vecchio and the Duomo Duomo.

The "Duomo": Florence's cathedral is the one on the left. the one on the right is Florence Baptistery, which is one of the oldest buildings in the city, built between 1059 and 1128. The architecture is in Florentine Romanesque style. photo 317978_10151093308331209_1153395348_n.jpg

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Gold Door of Florence Baptistery aka Gates of Paradise.

Gold Door of Florence Baptistery aka Gates of Paradise. photo 403917_10151093308871209_7196724_n.jpg

Being a Saturday, it was really crowded and there were just people everywhere. We didn’t want to pay for the baptistery. In the end, we decided to climb the Giotto Tower to catch a view of the city.

It was a massive 634 steps before we reached the top. there was 2 rest points if I did not remember wrongly and some parts of the stairway was so narrow that only one person can climb at a time. Meaning that the other person will have to stick itself as close to the wall as possible, so that the rest can move along. (Sounds hard to explain but oh wells)

View from the Giotto's Bell Tower. photo 555827_10151093310481209_1802770131_n.jpg

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Are you afraid of heights? Do u dare to stand on this and jump or look down?
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And finally when I reach the top, the view is gorgeous.

Paddy can fly! photo 552687_10151093326216209_145808230_n.jpg

And then we realised that the people who climbed the duomo was higher than us.. HOWEVER, we realise that if we climbed the Duomo, we will be unable to appreciate the beauty of the Dome.. so we rather climb the giotto tower and admire the beauty of the Dome.

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However, do take note that it is not exactly an open area.. It is fenced up.. like that.

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Take a deep breathe~ Can you see the pretty mountains in the background? Then you think of mona lisa.. People say that the mountains seen in Mona Lisa is believed to be from the mountains of florence..

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Playing with camera effects =p

This is what the end of the world will look like. Apart from the blue sky and white clouds, everything would be colourless. photo 582231_10151093331756209_158474587_n.jpg

Neat City Planning~

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and.. i was saying that i see koreans everywhere.. evidence.

I've been seeing so many Koreans in this trip.. and this is another evidence of the invasion of Koreans all over Europe. photo 403836_10151093332411209_1915813884_n.jpg

And of course, the artist did not disappoint her fans and she took out her pen and drew another brilliant art piece. (JK)

Artist at her work! photo 563367_10151093332751209_89795495_n.jpg

Despite getting cooked in the sun, she attempted for a second piece but she gave up. There were simply too many details >_<

Artist at her work again. But it was left incomplete so that in future if I do get famous, someone can finish it up for me =p photo 582012_10151093334646209_617826652_n.jpg

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Then.. we chanced upon a marathon!! The sun was burning yet somewhere in the city.. the people were gearing up for something important.

There was a marathon going on at like 2pm in the afternoon (aka the hottest time in the day). How do they do it? Well, they photo 521897_10151093338451209_1450062037_n.jpg

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Piazza della Signoria

Piazza della Signoria might just host the finest collection of outdoor statues in the world; featuring statues of Cosmos I di Merdici in the centre of the square, the famous replica of Michelangelo’s David, Hercules and Cacus and the gorgeous Foutain of Neptune, each resting along the Plazzo Vecchio building.

Piazza della SignoriaPiazza della Signoria might just host the finest collection of outdoor statues in the world; featuring statues of Cosmos I di Merdici in the centre of the square, the famous replica of Michelangelo's David, Hercules and Cacus a photo 283781_10151093345226209_854978_n.jpg

So.. this is the legendary David.

Oh wait, he is actually a replica. The real one is locked up in the museum and you have to pay to see it.

Why is he legendary? Well, he has the perfect body, or so they say.

Anyway, you should call him Michelangelo’s David.

So.. this is the legendary David. Oh wait, he is actually a replica. The real one is locked up in the museum and you have to pay to see it. Why is he legendary? Well, he has the perfect body, or so they say. Anyway, you should call him Michelan photo 428825_10151093346321209_428189202_n.jpg

“Perseus with the Head of Medusa”, by Cellini (1554)

"Perseus with the Head of Medusa", by Cellini (1554) photo 292368_10151093346616209_1431326013_n.jpg

“Hercules and Cacus”, by Bandinelli (1533)

"Hercules and Cacus", by Bandinelli (1533) photo 602468_10151093349191209_1133290534_n.jpg

Since you’re famous, I’ll take a few more photos of you.

Since you're famous, I'll take a few more photos of you. photo 553068_10151093350931209_709407522_n.jpg

This pose is perfect, ain't it? photo 525963_10151093351661209_1548921870_n.jpg

If statues could talk.. what do you think they will say?

Who's looking at who? photo 553222_10151093352906209_200938124_n.jpg

Walked passed Uffizi museum which we chose not to enter. However, some people actually proclaim it as one of the best galleries.. maybe you should give it a chance if you have the spare cash =p

This is River Arno.

This is River Arno. photo 282739_10151093354606209_513933687_n.jpg

The Ponte Vecchio is a Medieval stone closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge over the Arno River, in Florence, Italy, noted for still having shops built along it, as was once common.During World War II, the Ponte Vecchio was not destroyed by Germans during their retreat of August 4, 1944, unlike all other bridges in Florence.
 The Ponte Vecchio is a Medieval stone closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge over the Arno River, in Florence, Italy, noted for still having shops built along it, as was once common.During World War II, the Ponte Vecchio was not destroyed by Germans photo 295302_10151093356786209_2128522176_n.jpg

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We then walk down, to another bridge, and walked towards this church –

The Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross) is the principal Franciscan church in Florence, Italy, and a minor basilica of the Roman Catholic Church.The best thing of this church was that it was a good marker point for us to search for an extremely famous but looks damn cui from the outside gelato store called vivoli!
Vivoli ice cream~ the best gelato in Florence! photo 459395_10151025522581209_576972327_o.jpg
This is the famous gelato shop – Vivoli.
After tasting all the gelatos in this whole trip, we rate this shop #1 =D
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Run down it may seem, the crowd is always there!!
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Want to know how awesome is it? this little kid here finished the whole cup of ice cream which was meant for his mum..

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Feeling sad that I have chose a weird flavour which was “NEW” (ginger flavoured ice cream), I decided to buy something else from the shop. It was so satisfying =D

Awesome chocolate tart! photo 457398_10151025526796209_2147302474_o.jpg

Then we proceeded on towards Michaengelo Hill. Initially, we wanted to take a bus up the hill but we had trouble locating the correct bus stop as there were some road diversion (maybe due to the marathon?) We ended up walking there..

Maybe these were the mountains Leonardo saw that day.

Maybe these were the mountains Leonardo saw that day. photo 545092_10151093368461209_275959825_n.jpg

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Followed the signs..

walking up, up, up the Piazzale Michelangelo.

This 19th century piazza has undoubtedly the best panoramic view of Florence. The square is decorated with copies of Michelangelo’s sculptures, but it’s the view people come here to see.

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walking up, up, up the Piazzale Michelangelo. This 19th century piazza has undoubtedly the best panoramic view of Florence. The square is decorated with copies of Michelangelo's sculptures, but it's the view people come here to see. photo 528109_10151093369021209_1789726141_n.jpg

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Look at that awkward looking cloud =p

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Dear artist couldn’t leave this breathtaking view without penning it down.

Can you see the similarities? photo 205226_10151093371981209_892802041_n.jpg

The new and budding artist just drew a masterpiece. Any bidders? photo 556003_10151093371601209_2086746631_n.jpg

We attempted to wait for sunset but it was too early..

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Not forgetting, mr. imporant.

Alas, I see David again. But he is yet another replica. =( photo 197721_10151093370096209_1390064823_n.jpg

A very creative structure. If only I could package that scenery into a briefcase and send it home.

The sun was against us. Otherwise it would be picturesque. photo 555933_10151093372866209_1327559486_n.jpg

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Rose Garden~

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I don’t know what we were doing that day but we ended up at a michelin restaurant for dinner. we were out of our minds.

We found this restaurant using Guide Pal Florence (a new app on iPhone). After eating the food there and being a low-value customer, I promised myself to write them a very good review for their excellent food served in this restaurant.

La Giostra http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187895-d716283-Reviews-La_Giostra-Florence_Tuscany.html

Despite ordering very little, they served us champagne and a full platter of appetizer! We really felt super guilty for ordering so little but the dishes were really pricy. After reading everyone’s feedback, we were really extremely lucky to be able to walk into this restaurant without any reservation. The restaurant is very cosy which in other words mean that you can hear the next table talking =/ There were a group of americans and an american couple. We didn’t have to eavesdrop, because you can just hear everything..

Somehow I wish I had more money and indulge in a full course meal. I would definitely return! If I visit florence ever again.

Pear Ravioli was so so so very awesome. After eating this, I got addicted to ravioli and i ate it almost every chance I had when I was still in italy.

Pear flavored ravioli in super atas Italian restaurant in Florence~ photo 468201_10151038371096209_667903045_o.jpg

Su Su Su.. (tiramiSU) mascarpone overdose.

The name of this dessert is called Su Su Su.. Aka tiramisu. photo 470961_10151038374501209_1758558037_o.jpg

Rice Ice Cream

As you can see, it was candlelight setting.

Rice ice cream in an extremely tall glass which tasted awesome. photo 472342_10151038376891209_146148997_o.jpg

Day 19 / Pisa & Cinque Terre

Woke up really early to catch the 828am train to Pisa (7.30 euros)

As the sun was very very very hot, we took the bus to Pisa. Basically, you just alight when everyone else alights, or you can ask the driver =) Walking will take about 30 mins and it will be 10 mins by the bus.. Did we buy a ticket? hmmmm. the bus was too crowded to think of that question.

It was a Sunday.. well..

and so.. we finally made it to the REAL leaning tower of Pisa. photo 602404_10151093374931209_1048953379_n.jpg

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Short history about the tower: It was built on unstable subsoil. It was built back in like 1173 but work stopped at the third stage because the building was already collapsing.

A century later, 3 more stages were added, constructed to tilt in the opposite direction.

Short history about the tower: It was built on unstable subsoil. It was built back in like 1173 but work stopped at the third stage because the building was already collapsing. A century later, 3 more stages were added, constructed to tilt in the o photo 553932_10151093378206209_1253723379_n.jpg

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And her friends decided to take some photoshoot again.. so.. the artist is back!

The artist continues to draw while her friends continue taking photos & photos & even more photos. photo 525855_10151093385446209_1068773068_n.jpg

Left half my heart at Michelangelo hill and another half at pisa.

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After a whooping 2-3 hours under the hot sun posing and taking photo of the real leaning tower of pisa, we finally moved on to our next destination – Cinque Terre!

Took the train from Pisa to La Spieza then to Cinque Terre.

The Cinque Terre is a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera. It is in the Liguria region of Italy, to the west of the city of La Spezia. “The Five Lands” is composed of five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.

It is a UNESCO Heritage Site (Yay! I visited another one.)

Took the train from Pisa to La Spieza then to Cinque Terre. The Cinque Terre is a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera. It is in the Liguria region of Italy, to the west of the city of La Spezia. "The Five Lands" is composed of photo 548028_10151093390366209_664359053_n.jpg

FYI, you are supposed to buy some pass to take the trains and to walk the paths. It cost 10 euros and if you’re doing the walking trail, you will need it because they have people to check >_<

Monterosso al Mare – the furthest and most touristy town.

Monterosso al Mare - the furthest and most touristy town. photo 380586_10151093392066209_343403304_n.jpg

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If I had time, I would sit at the rocks and paint.

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This is a true yellow LEMON TREE!

“I wonder how, I wonder why, … and all that I can see, is just a yellow lemon tree!”

This is a true yellow LEMON TREE! "I wonder how, I wonder why, ... and all that I can see, is just a yellow lemon tree!" photo 428542_10151093403566209_234334738_n.jpg

Corniglia 
Corniglia is not directly adjacent to the sea. Instead, it is on the top of a promontory about 100 meters high, surrounded on three sides by vineyards and terraces and the fourth side descends steeply on the sea. To reach Corniglia, it is necessary to climb the Lardarina, a long brick flight of steps composed of 33 flights with 382 steps

CornigliaCorniglia is not directly adjacent to the sea. Instead, it is on the top of a promontory about 100 meters high, surrounded on three sides by vineyards and terraces and the fourth side descends steeply on the sea. To reach Corniglia, it is photo 206064_10151093405466209_1471848046_n.jpg

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View while climbing up the steps.

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Anyway, don’t the colourful houses just remind you of Murano & Burano back in Venice? I always wonder if the colour houses were a thinkg of the past or not. I mean..how do you actually coordinate your neighbours to paint a different colour from you? And you can’t change the colour of your house as and when you like.. Most probably you have to seek “approval”.

Anyway, don't the colourful houses just remind you of Murano & Burano back in Venice? I always wonder if the colour houses were a thinkg of the past or not. I mean..how do you actually coordinate your neighbours to paint a different colour from y photo 484415_10151093422111209_314687705_n.jpg

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I like it when I can actually see the horizon.. the line where the sky meets the sea.

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the locks of..?

and so.. the locks thing did not originate from korea. photo 486598_10151093441576209_1518419995_n.jpg

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I wonder how much courage it took for them to climb down the steep rocks.. and have a picnic there. oh gawd. if humans had 9 lives, i would risk 1 life for it.

If humans have 9 lives. I would have given this a try. Climbing down dangerous rocks to have a picnic on the rocks. photo 428818_10151093442356209_1025624498_n.jpg

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The sun has yet to set. photo 539610_10151093443171209_449374257_n.jpg

Look at how clear the water is! photo 197678_10151093444466209_1540290336_n.jpg

Part of the trail from Manarola to Riomaggiore. photo 552684_10151093445381209_784566222_n.jpg

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" I LOVE" photo 252679_10151093448991209_1576483635_n.jpg

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Weathering Effects. photo 292350_10151093452736209_659923079_n.jpg

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Kebab sandwich =p the cheapest food you can ever find.

Kebab sandwich at cinque terre~ photo 458389_10151038382221209_382186852_o.jpg

Duff(y) beef. The best lager I have tasted. Alright I don’t drink lager prior to this.

Duff(y) beef. The best lager I have tasted. Alright I don't drink lager prior to this. photo 461831_10151038386136209_67489875_o.jpg

Kebab again for dinner.

Kebab wrap again! photo 468120_10151038384026209_1467052261_o.jpg

Day 2o / Outlet Shopping: Space & The Mall

Directions to Prada “Space”

Take the Montevarchi regional train and alight and take a taxi to the prada “Space”. We reached really early and we share a cab with 2 other girls and we happened to be the first 5 outside the “gate”. However, taxis after taxis slowly came, and soon there was a small crowd. (By the way, it was a Monday morning)

The doors only open quite some time later and everyone ran to dash to get a number from the machine.. and stay put outside the main door. When I said dash, it’s seriously dash. WHY? we were the first 5 people to arrive, but we only manage to get 20+ if i didn’t remember wrongly.

Day 20: queue & queueWhat are they queuing for? Free food? Free gifts? For the toilet? No! They are queueing up for wallets that cost 150 euros the least and bags no less than 300 euros. And you think they are expensive? Apparently the peop photo 468124_10151030389306209_1026741555_o.jpg

Well, dear yours truly who know nuts about branded items.. waited patiently and took photos. I seriously should have taken a video of people rushing in when the flood gates opened.

Anyways, il-bon (number 1) girl who entered the store was a korean and she walked out with 5-7 bags. WOW. By the way, you seriously have to snatch the bag because many items only have one piece available (how often is there a defect?)

Their items were really cheap! Friend got a miumiu bag (with a slight but obvious defect) for 330 euros and the prada wallets cost 195 euros. I think.. if you buy from retail, it’s at least 800SGD?!

Well, we (difficultly) move on to our next destination -> The Mall.

Took another taxi back to the train station and proceeded to Rignano station. Took a taxi (4 euros) to the Mall.

http://www.themall.it/en/

explore yourself on the various brands available but me and my friend stepped out of that place with a wallet each and some goodies from godiva =p

Pretty scenery from the mall. photo 579259_10151030391901209_534523822_n.jpg

Attempted to do a tax refund to get cash instantly but the queue was too long and each person in the queue wanted to claim multiple receipts. Gave up and queued for the shuttle bus which would bring us back to the central station in Florence!

We went back to the city area and I bought some sandals from H&M (something which i have been eyeing for a while). It was only 12.95 euros!

Passionfruit flavour ice pop! The one and only ice pop i ate the whole trip.

Ice pop number 1:Passion fruit flavour!! photo 476425_10151038391116209_183169391_o.jpg

My favourite drink =p anyhow whack also nice moscato =p for 8 euros.

Anyhow buy also not bad! photo 464549_10151038392706209_1411081783_o.jpg

Bye Bye Bye Firenze. Moving on to Rome!

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