Sunday, October 15, 2006

Florence - Part 1

Florence was our favorite city to visit. We arrived there by train, which traveled through part of Tuscany so we had a marvelous view on the way there! Our hotel in Florence was awesome too - it was a family-owned hotel with the most friendly and helpful staff we encountered. The room was huge, extremely quiet and well-equipped. Our shower was just in the middle of the bathroom, however, and there were two curtains to draw around it to keep from getting the toilet (on one side) and the sink (on the other side) from getting soaked. We loved staying here - and the breakfast significantly stepped up from the Rome hotel with fresh fruit, cereal, ham, cheese and hot chocolate, which Casey loved.

The first thing we did in Florence was visit the outdoor market near San Lorenzo's basilica. There's lots of stalls lining the streets with all sorts of handmade and not-so-handmade stuff. We got some gelato and ate it on the steps of the Duomo. A side note about Florence - we discovered that it has the most gelateria stores of all the places we visited with the most varieties of flavors. We tried ones like: Kinder (as I mentioned before), chocolate (a staple, really), chocolate chip, nutella, caramel, coffee, and so many more! They always serve it with a little tiny colored plastic spoon that's really shaped more like a spatula than a spoon, but it works!

We spent the afternoon that day exploring the city and visiting the Ponte Vecchio, the oldest bridge in Florence still standing after the Nazis blew them all up in WWII. It is still lined with jewelry stores dating back to the rule of the Medicis when they transformed the Ponte Vecchio from a farmers market to a gold market. We made our way to the Piazza della Signora, which holds such treasures as the Uffizi Museum, a copy of Michaelangelo's David and an open-air gallery of sculpture called Loggia de Lonzi.

One of our favorite experiences in Florence and certainly the best dinner we had on the entire trip was at Trattorie Le Mossacce, which is located on the long street just behind the Duomo. This place was fabulous! It seats only 35 people total in a space that you would never guess could seat even 15 people! The tables are lined up against the wall and everyone sits together whether you're together or not, which is actually fun. We sat about 3 feet from the tiny kitchen where only two people could fit: the fantastic cook and the assistant/dish washer. The waiters were extremely hard-working and accomodating, but the food was the real winner. Casey started out with a savory lasagna and I had a minestrone soup like none I'd had before. Then we both had Bistecca Fiorentina (Florentine steak, a specialty of the region) for our main course. It was so flavorful and tender and we actually got to see the cook take the slab of meat off the hook and cut (more like hack) our steaks off of the slab with a huge knife. Casey's steak was accompanied by roasted potatoes and I had fagioli a olio (white tuscan beans with olive oil) with mine - delicious!

That evening we took a walk along the Arno River and got to see everything lit up at night. It was beautiful! On our way back to the hotel through the Piazza della Republica, there was live music - a band featuring a bass - so we stopped to listen for a while.

There's just too much to tell about Florence so I've broken it down into two parts so my posts aren't as long as the Bible.


Unknown said...

I was sorry we didn't get to visit more this morning. I am enjoying reading about your trip.

Kara (Turskey) Vaught said...

Hi big sis!
I found your blog through Lori's.
Your trip looks amazing - I hope I get to see all that someday!!!