2015 – Welcome to Florence

Just an FYI, before we left Opera02 I discovered the way to get to the bottle of grappa in our room. You just lift off the heavy glass casing. Well, figured that out just a little too late. Although Dick and Antimo figured they could drink it, and replace the contents with water – maybe have to duct tape the label back down. Oh God, that would mean I would have to drive to Florence. NOOooooooo!

So it continues….. on our drive from Modena area to Florence, Antimo and Dick were trying to figure out how we could bring back cheese and mortadella. So here’s the plan – we will dress the mortadella up with a cap and sunglasses, Dick’s clothes, get him a passport in Florence with the name Morty Della. We’ll carry him in our lap and chastise anyone for making fun of our Morty who doesn’t have legs. What do you think?

We arrived in Florence ready to take on the city and all that it offers. One hitch was our accommodations ended up being too far out of the city center. Antimo was a whiz at getting us new digs. He has a cousin in Florence….. don’t you know? So the network started connecting and within a few minutes we had a room in a local’s apartment within walking distance to everything we wanted to see. Claudia runs a B&B in town and her B&B was full so she offered her apartment. OMG – who can do that? Antimo earned big high five on that one!

There was a bit of time before we could check into the apartment so we went to lunch – of course – don’t Italians solve everything with food and wine? It was recommended we try speck – a nicely flavored type of ham. It was great with the homemade bread, mozzarella, tomato and whatever else was in the sandwich. We stuck to a quickish lunch – no wine – because we had to keep our wits about us until we found the apartment and met our new landlady.

So what does one do in Florence with a few minutes to spare? Off to shopping. Antimo’s cousin (no he hadn’t run out of cousins yet) has a pottery shop in Florence. She paints everything by hand and it is exquisite. I spent hours in the shop and spent more money than I had budgeted for – may not be retiring when I get home until I pay off some of these travel and shopping bills.  She also sells online in case anyone is interested.

Maria (shop owner and cousin) had us to her house for a treat of coffee and sweets. Her house is unbelievable. She is located in the center of Florence and inside her home it is like an artist paradise. She has beautiful sketches and paintings filling her walls – all created by her – some of famous paintings and some originals. It is hard for me to understand how some people have such a natural talent. She only went 2 years to art school.

Our late afternoon/evening adventure was to walk up to Piazzale Michangelo. First we passed the Fortessa de bassa which is the fortress that surrounded the city at one time. It was built somewhere around the 14th century. Amazing many walls are still standing.

Okay, so now is the real test of fitness or Antimo’s wellness portion of the trip. We’ve had a few during this trip but I was too exhausted to talk about them. This though was the ultimate. We walked up to Piazzale Michangelo where people gather for sunset. Well, when I looked up the flights of stairs I about passed out on the spot – but thought – no I can do this! I tried to look up on Google how many flights of stairs it was up to the Piazzale and could not find it. Some of these steps are called Poggi ramps because Giuseppe Poggi designed them back in 1869. All I have to say is that when we got to the top my fit bit said 27 flights of stairs – and that is conservative because the fit bit doesn’t always recognize all the steps.

The day ended with wine in Santos Spirito piazza. We even poked our heads into the church in the square – to give thanks that we were still alive and breathing after that challenging experience. We headed back and discovered a concert in Piazza del Carmine right outside the apartment. We realized we hadn’t eaten dinner and stopped to listen to the band and grab a chicken calzone (sort of) that was sooo tasty. The funny thing is that it was served with french fries. First time we’ve had french fries in a month! The band did a goodish job of singing American songs and even after we left the square we could hear the concert in the apartment.

Ahhh another wonderful day in Italy.

View from the top Piazzale Michangelo – it was breathtaking (literally took my breath away after walking up 27+ flights of stairs. My very favorite of Florence.

Bread anyone? I should have had Dick stand by the table so you could get the perspective – these were huge loafs of bread. We’re going here for breakfast one day for sure!

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