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Published: December 3rd 2010
We arrive in Florence mid-day via rail. Mario, our host at B & B Repubblica, is a slow talking, relaxed fellow. He recommends a nearby restaurant crowded with locals, however, we find it a bit too expensive for what we get.
We nap after yesterday’s big day in Rome and awaken to the most beautiful music we’ve ever heard. There is a Tunisian festival in the piazza below.
Off of the Piazza Santa Croce, we have a fabulous dinner at Bocadama with friendly service and great ambience. My friend’s pasta is exquisitely fresh with ripe tomatoes, basil, buffalo mozzarella, garlic and olive oil and the house wines, both red and white are delicious.
Next day is gallery touring. We’re off to see David’s bum at the Accademia Gallery. He is magnificent. We stop to see the Duomo and a long tour of the Uffizi Gallery. By the end of the Caravaggio exhibit, I’m feeling a little ill from all of the violent images and heads in baskets.
The Ponte Vecchio is a beautiful antiquated walking bridge on the Arno filled with gold stores that were once butcher shops in the days of old. We find
Meet the designer day
a little shop just off the bridge and each buy a dress for 39 euros and discover the designer has dropped by for a visit.
I’ve pre-booked a Best of Tuscany Tour with Walk About Pass that a friend has recommended. We leave at around 8:30 for spectacular Siena. We have some free time to sit and have a cappuccino in the main square and watch the bankers smoke and talk on their cells on their break.
Next, we visit a Tuscan farm. The lunch is organic and everything except the cheese is cultivated on the grounds. We have sliced meats, cheeses, bread, pasta Bolognese and a salad with lots of vino. Afterward we pass the olive groves and vineyard to see the cattle but one of the tourists has over-imbibed and causes a ruckus with a protective cow and her calf so we are all ushered out of the barn quickly.
We drive through the countryside to the Tuscan hill town of San Gimignano. It is everything we ever hoped for in a Tuscan town with its ancient walls and towers and an incredible view of the landscape. We stop along the wall for a glass
of wine while we sit and absorb the lush vista.
Our last stop is a quick visit to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I’m glad we’ve seen it. It’s a long day but one well spent.
Next day … my friend has pre-booked a cooking class with a travel agent. We meet a group at a small piazza and head over a bridge to our evening class. My friend was told the class would be held in someone’s home and the sterile, commercial kitchen and slick operation disappoint me. But thankfully our group of six is assigned Roberto, a clever and witty chef. And good looking. He keeps things moving quickly. His quips are funny and we learn some interesting cooking tips that we can use at home. We make gnocchi, stuffed zucchini, chicken cacciatore and panna cotta. The wine we were supposed to be sipping during the class is nowhere to be found. I’ve taken other cooking classes out of country and I think drinking local fare is one of the best parts of the experience. Our meal is delicious and the vino is uncorked for that segment of the night.
We want to go back
Peeling potatoes for the gnocchi
to San Gimignano but neither of us wants to drive a rental so we opt for a bus to Fiesole. We are confused with the bus system and almost get tricked into taking a very expensive tour bus to the nearby Fiesole. The town sits above the city of Florence and the view is fabulous. We have a relaxing outdoor lunch with the locals on the main street.
I actually don’t like shopping at home but in Florence, it’s great fun. The Santa Croce fills with vendors with all manner of goods. The leather prices are excellent compared to Canada. I am always amazed that we dazed consumers have accepted vinyl at the prices leather used to be just to get a brand name on a bag.
We return a few times to a little café called SO off of the Santa Croce square because of their delicious cappuccinos and changing daily specials. It’s a place with good value and tasty food.
We’ve spent seven days in Florence. The city is so interesting we’d love to stay for another week (or year!) but we’re off to Cinque Terre for some seaside adventures.
want to be centrally located on the Piazza della Repubblica, stay with Mario at http://www.bbrepubblica.com. (We had breakfast elsewhere).
For the tour go to http://www.walkaboutpass.com
For your visits to the galleries, be sure to pre-book your tickets to avoid long lines.
Visit me at www.wandasthilaire.com
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