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Published: June 28th 2012
Packed and super noisy.
Good day all!
First, I added a video above that is for fun! Its sort of the opposite situation my parents and I are in now that we don't have Chiara to help us out with Italian, but its a funny way to show how difficult it can be to communicate between cultures! 😊
Well, Mom and Dad and I have successfully conquered Firenze (Florence) and are headed to Roma!
Mom booked us a pretty nice little Bed & Breakfast near Florence city center, which worked out great because everything was within about a twenty minute walk from the apartment. We got in fairly early and the owner of our B&B suggested Mario’s Trattoria for lunch. She warned that it could get crazy if you wait long to get there so we headed out, but apparently we were still too late. It was pretty packed, but she had assured they had great food so we waited it out for a little over an hour. We sat at a four top and because they are so busy they just stick mismatched groups of people together to fill tables so we sat with a
girl from Sardinia. No menus, just a piece of paper on the wall with what they are serving that day. Dad was not happy. A hungry Rex in a hot noisy place is an unhappy Rex. Although, it also makes a pretty unhappy Sharla and Devin too, so it’s not that fair just to pick on Dad, he simply voices his opinion about it more making it easier to pick on him.
After what Mom and Dad called a mediocre meal (I thought mine was pretty good) we went exploring around the city center. Coming upon the Duomo for the first time was definitely incredible. I was not expecting such a breathtaking building. To be honest I knew nearly nothing about Florence before we got here; just that it is located in Tuscany and Sandra Bullock’s character in the movie “While You Were Sleeping” really wants to go there. It’s the only cathedral I have seen so far that is made of colored stone as opposed to a plane white marble, or granite plus, it is absolutely huge! The following day we walked inside; it’s not quite as impressive on the inside as it is on the
outside but still very beautiful. We also walked up to the top of the dome of the Duomo. Poor Dad. It was a combination of some of the things that make him most uncomfortable: Hot, high up in the air, very small spaces and lots of people. He’s a trooper though.
Outside the Duomo on our first day in Florence we ran into an American couple and their two-year-old daughter looking for the statue of David. We couldn't help them much but we struck up a conversation. Turns out Brian is an electrical engineer working for Ford and he was doing business in Cologne, Germany and now he and his family are traveling a bit. They are from Michigan but in the near future they are moving to Shanghai, China for four years because he got a promotion. Their daughter Chloe was pretty adorable! A horse drawn carriage drove by and she got all excited, “Horsy!”
“Yeah! I like horses too.”
She sort of looked at me, then looked back and the horse, then back at me.
Yes, I sure do have a way with kids.
Since we didn't
have a lot of time in Florence we tried to make the most out of our time, so later in the evening we went to Santa Croce which is the church were Niccolo Machiavelli, Galileo Galilee, and Michelangelo are buried. I have to say, I was pretty excited to see where Galileo was buried. He did so much for science! We would still think triangles were mind-bending puzzles and that the world was flat if it weren't for him. Incredible!
Well, to put it lightly, it is really, incredibly, impossibly hot in Italy. Just super-hot. So we found what I consider to be like the American Embassy for weary American travelers: an Irish Pub. Then headed off for dinner at a considerably less crowded and tastier restaurant.
The next day we got up early to get inside the Duomo and the Basilica before the heat of the day because you have to have your shoulders and knees covered to go inside those. After changing back into heat appropriate clothing and taking a siesta we headed across the Arnos River to a lookout point over the entire city. Even with the haze it was pretty
great view of Florence.
Wednesday, however, was the highlight of our trip. Mom planned a “Vespa Tour of Tuscany” for us. We met in the city center and they brought us in a van into the countryside. One group did an actual bike tour, which would have been pretty fun, but I've ridden a bike before, now I can add Vespa driving to my skill set. I honestly thought it would be a lot of people about my parents’ age on the tour since it also included a wine tour of a vineyard and winery. In reality there were a lot of people about my age there, all with their parents; a girl from Delaware, Dana, and her Dad Tony, and a three kids from Australia with their parents, plus two girls from Concordia in Moorhead. Our tour guides were Steven, who has dual citizenship in Italy and the United States and has some combination of an Italian accent and a Boston accent when he speaks English, really interesting, but he’s been everywhere on the planet and the other guide was Yacapo (pronounced Ya-ka-poe) who is pretty much Italian through and through and hilarious.
Surprisingly, Mom was the only person on the whole tour who had any experience driving a two wheeled motor vehicle. Yes, my Mother, aka alien slayer Ellen Ripley, who’s never weighed more than about 112 pounds used to drive a Kawasaki 450 motorcycle. She came around on her little Vespa with a huge smile on her face. I dunno, now that Conor and I are out of the house you may just see Sharbee scooting, or should I say Vespa-ing, around Lincoln.
Dad on the other hand needed a little bit longer to get used to the Vespa. He did not have a huge smile during his first try on the Vespa. “You could just ride along, Dad.”
“My ego won’t allow that to happen.”
So succeed he did on his Vespa. Who knows, maybe he and UB and my Mom will all just be scooting around Nebraska. My friends and I always make fun of the people we see around campus driving Vespas, but they are pretty dang fun. I won’t make as much fun of them anymore. 😊
The tour went through the countryside around Florence and my Mom and I had
the same thought: It really does look like in the movies. Alternating brown grass fields, green vineyards and Cyprus trees, just like you’d imagine. Many of the best views we just drove by on the Vespas, so I don’t have photos.
Midway through the day we stopped at the vineyard for our tour and lunch. This particular area of Tuscany is where Chianti wine is made and true Chianti wine can only be made in this region. What makes a Chianti wine Chianti is a) the types of grapes and b) the irrigation. The grapes used must be at least 85% Sangiovese and they can’t be irrigated artificially, only with rain water. The Corsini vineyard is fairly young, owned by a descendant of Pope Clement XII, and since they have a Pope in the family they are considered like royalty in Italy.
Steven and Yacapo (I really don’t know if I am spelling that right) walked us through the entire winery, explaining all of the steps from the grape to the glass as well as how Extra Virgin Olive Oil is produced and at the end we had a small tasting and some lunch. You know,
I never knew what the difference was between extra
virgin olive oil, virgin olive oil and just olive oil. Well, extra virgin olive oil is made from the very first press of the olives, and only
the first press of the olives while virgin and regular can be made or mixed with later presses. Kate, I listened very carefully so we will have the inside Italian info for when we open our own first rate winery. 😊
If you’re ever en Italy I would make a point to pass through Florence and do a Vespa tour, even though it was hot as blazes it was zuper!
We finished off our stay in Florence with a visit to la Galleria dell’Accademia to see Michelangelo’s statue of The David. Considered Michelangelo’s greatest work, it is also considered one of the greatest works of sculpture ever and the perfect image of a male. I didn't realize how large of a statue it was; I think I was only about as tall as his knees. Neither of the three of us are really art enthusiasts (we all know how I feel about Contemporary Spanish Art) so we really
just saw The David and left. You weren't allowed to take photos of The David but there was an Andy Warhol-like colored statue of The David in a courtyard so I took a picture of that one for all of you. 😊 It’s the same general idea as the real one; Dad thought it was sort of appalling though.
My parents really enjoyed Florence, I think they would be content to just stay there and try every restaurant in the area. Plus, we hear its anywhere between 5 and 10 degrees hotter in Rome. 😊
Hope you all are having a good end of June!
Love and miss you!
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