Sorry its taking me forever to document the trip!
Today I want to tell you about Florence. It was a very quick trip… we arrive around lunchtime on a Wednesday and left first thing Friday morning for Rome. This limited us to stay in Florence proper, meaning no day-trips to wineries or hill towns. This will be my biggest regret, would have really done it differently if I could go back in time, and planned to stay in Florence at LEAST a day longer. However, downtown Florence was definitely for me and I enjoyed every moment we spent there.
Our Hotel was Hotel Rosso 23. About 2 blocks from the train station and right on the square in front of Piazza Santa Maria Novella. The hotel was super modern and decorated mostly in Red, hence “Rosso.” I liked this alot. We really enjoyed out stay here. Staff was helpful, breakfast was included (and delicious) and the room was very comfortable.
Our first stop in Florence was food. Our first meal was lunch and we had it at Il-Porcospino very near the Duomo. We sat outside on the covered patio. There was only one other couple there. Our server was VERY nice. He wore an American Flag on his lapel. He was definitely working the crowd, too. As people walked by he would make jokes and try to get folks attention. I bet he bring home good tips, and most don’t tip in Italy (its not expected). I wish I remembered his name. He was so fun. He asked where we were from, we said “Washington, DC” and his eyes got wild with excitement. “So are THEY!!!!” he exclaimed, and pointed at the one other couple on the patio. As it turns out, this couple lives about 5 miles from us and work in the same neighborhood as our condo. We literally shop at the same Harris-Teeter. SMALL WORLD.
While we made small talk with our new neighbor-friends, we enjoyed some tasty lunch, our first taste of bruschetta in Italy (amazing), I had the house penne with tomato cream sauce (AMAZING) and house wine (YUM). We started off right.
From here we went straight to see the David at the Accademia. For years, David actually stood near the entrance to Palazzo Vecchio but they had to move him inside because he was starting to deteriorate. I wanted badly to snap and illegal iphone photo of the real David but there was more cameras pointing on him than any high level security I have ever seen in my life so I decided against going to Florentine prison and kept the iphone stowed.
Among the notable renaissance works on display are an outstanding collection of 15th and 16th century Florentine paintings by Paolo Uccello, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Sandro Botticelli and Andrea del Sarto and, from the High Renaissance, Giambologna‘s original plaster for the Rape of the Sabine Women. (Thanks wikipedia).
Next we went to see The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (the Duomo).
As we were walking past, we saw a very small line waiting to enter the Duomo so we got in line and waited. We didnt realize that you could just walk in to the ground floor of the Duomo, and that we were waiting in the line to climb 400-plus stairs to to top, until we got inside and realized what was happening. At that point it was too late and we decided we would make the climb. These climbs are crazy. First the Arch de Triumph, then Sacre Ceour, and now to hike up a winding, narrow, staircase the height of the French climbs combined, was a bit daunting to me. Lucky for us there were little narrow corners on the way up you could stop and rest. I tell you, climbing to the tops of the sites is what kept the gellato off, or at least gave me more excuses to eat more than I should! At the end of the day, the climb was totally worth it, the views from the top were breathtaking!
As we were wrapping up at the Duomo, Brian started to feel sick. He mustve caught a bug on the train from Venice to Florence because in just a few hours he had a full blown sinus infection type thing going on that unfortunately haunted both of us the rest of the trip.
That night we dined at Il Santo Bevitore which is tied for first place “best restaurant” of all the restaurants we tried in Italy and Paris. I got a cheese plate with the best cheese on earth. The wine was a super Tuscan that did not disappoint, and the pasta was rich, warm and delicious. I highly recommend this place.
The next day, my poor husband was too sick to venture out with me, so I hit the town on my own and headed to Uffizi for more breathtaking sculptures and art. I put on some tunes in the ipod and let the soundtrack narrate my day. It was really a fun time to get to explore on my own. Dont get me wrong, I HATE that Brian was not with me, but I didn’t mind a little personal adventure on my own.
I had a blast photographing all the statues and sculptures outside of Uffizi in the Piazza della Signoria. I’ll let the pics do the talking.
For lunch I made it back to the hotel to drag Brian to lunch. He was still feeling awful but was glad he rallied for what would turn out to be the best meal of the day at le Volpi e l’uva a quaint enoteca where Brian had a speck and Italian cheese crostoni and I had a meat and cheese plate. I LOVED the meat and cheese plates! And of course a nice glass of red each.
After lunch, Brian headed back to the hotel and I went shopping. I discovered a family owned and operated ceramic store that I fell in LOVE with. The owner was very nice, and told me about the store and his family who hand crafted all the good sold there. I also got to see pics of his family, including a photo of his father in law who made the ceramic carafe I purchased, among other things of course!
Next I moved on to a little grocery store, where an equally friendly woman helped me select some olive oil, pasta and spices to carry home with me.
Eventually I made it back to the hotel to get my sick hubby and we went to dinner, which was OK. It wasn’t as good as the last night’s dinner or that day’s lunch. Plus he was feeling so bad it was difficult to enjoy. I did, however, try white lasagna for the first time, and it was very good!
And then it was over as soon as it began. And we were off to Rome for our last 5 days in Italy on Friday morning.