This first long trip was the one I was expecting to be somewhat boring and redundant for me, seeing as how I have already visited the four cities on our itinerary. Well I sure am eating my words now because this trip was fantastic. So, over the next three posts I’ll tell you about all the fun I had so you can be jealous and wish you were in my shoes.
Although I have been to Florence two or three separate times in the past I still managed to see and do many new things on this trip, which was really exciting for me. After arriving by train in Florence we walked a short way to our hotel, which was right off of the piazza of the duomo. The first thing we did on our first day was climb to the top of the dome of the duomo. The rain and clouds cleared up just long enough for us to have a beautiful view of the city and the Tuscan countryside. Afterwards Luca took us to a typical Florentine osteria, Hostaoria del Bricco, where we had our first delicious meal of the trip. Luca absolutely spoiled us for the three days he was with us (hence my blog title). We just had so much amazing food! This meal consisted of a sampling of dips that were typical in the area. They were all delicious, except the one that was made from chicken liver (but I did try it!). The next course was two pasta dishes, a farfalle pasta with mushrooms and cream sauce, and a penne with meat ragu. For dessert we had Vin Santo- a typical florentine dessert of holy wine (which is more of a liquor than a wine) and biscotti. After lunch we visited San Miniato church on the hill overlooking the city. This church had really beautiful roof truss system that I could have stared at for hours. We ended our day at the Academia where we saw Michelangelo’s David. Everything we did on this day – climb to the top of the dome, see the David, visit San Miniato – were things I had never done in Florence, so it’s safe to say I was a happy camper with how this trip was starting out.
On day two, we went to visit a handful of churches. We started by seeing the Medici Chapel by Michelangelo at the San Lorenzo complex. We walked across Ponte Vecchio on our way to the Boboli Gardens, which were absolutely beautiful. For lunch we went to Tamero in the piazza of Santo Spirito church, where they hand make all of their pasta. We had a delicious eggplant primi, followed by a gorgonzola gnocchi and a spinach and ricotta ravioli secondi. After lunch we visited most of the palaces within the city and ended our day at the Ufitizi. After the museum, Luca took us to the home of the best hot chocolate in all of Florence. Hot chocolate in Europe is nothing like it is in the states – it’s 10,000x better. It’s basically melted chocolate served hot with ‘pana’ or whipped cream. For dinner we grabbed a quick bite at Star Kebab in the general area of the train station, which ended up being a delicious decision. It was hands down the best kebab I’ve ever had.
Day three started with a visit to the San Lorenzo complex where we specifically saw the Laurentian library which contains the famous stairs designed by Michelangelo. This building is the topic of a paper and presentation I am doing for Nicola’s class so I was very excited to see it in person. We went to Santa Maria Novella, a church by Alberti, where we saw the Masaccio fresco which was the first perspective painting in western history. We visited one of the oldest perfumeries in the world. We then had another awesome meal number with Luca at a small restaurant by San Lorenzo where I had pappardelle with ragu. This was sadly the end of Luca spoiling us with amazing food.
Before we went to the train station Tuesday afternoon to head to Naples, Nick and Megan invited us all to come eat at this restaurant, All’antico Vinaio, that they had dinner at the night before. Apparently they had amazing sandwiches and they were not exaggerating! They bake their own bread and they bring it in still steaming from the oven. I got prosciutto and mozzarella on my sandwich, with an artichoke and eggplant spread. It was absolutely delicious and it was almost as big as my head! I couldn’t finish the whole thing.
I also did a good bit of shopping while I was in Florence. My birthday present to myself was a leather jacket. Lucky for me it is the time of Saldi, the annual winter sales, so I ended up getting my jacket for close to 70% off! I also treated myself to a new pair of black boots. We found a shop called Lolita, which is a shoe store based in Milan. I could have literally bought out this entire store, all the shoes were gorgeous – and so comfortable.
So I think I can say that this was a very successful trip to Florence – with a whole lot of firsts and considerably heavier luggage.
Now on to Naples!