Florence/Firenze

11 Sep

We were graced with the beauty of Florence, ‘Firenze’ in Italian, this weekend! Our family’s bed and breakfast is near Perugia so Claudia dropped us off at the train station after we harvested white grapes in the morning. I love the train system here! Two hours in the car seems like awhile, but on the train you can be reading, journaling, admiring the beautiful Italian countryside and two hours is gone in a flash. Upon arriving in Florence we met up with my friend from college, Katina. She lived in Florence for about a month in between jobs so she knows many of the local secrets. It was so great getting to meet up with an old friend and see Florence at the same time. We stayed at a small hostel right off on the the main squares, Piazza della Repubblica. This square is absolutely breathtaking (I’ll explain in detail in a minute). That evening we walked around the city to familiarize ourselves. We got what many locals consider to be the best gelato in town. Gelato is rumored to have been created in Florence so it is truly the best of the best! My Auntie Florence (I swear that’s my great-aunt’s name! Just convenient) gave us $20 with strict instructions that it was to be spent solely on gelato and am I ever grateful we listened! Some of the secrets to gelato 1) The container. Plastic usually equals store bought and metal equals homemade. 2) Color. Bright colors are typically artificial or store bought and more subdued are homemade with natural flavors. 3) For better prices and (generally) quality steer clear of the main piazzas and hit up the gelaterias on side streets 4) Higher price does not equal higher quality, in fact most of the higher prices mean it’s store bought and you’re paying an up-charge, where homemade is less expensive. So there’s my expertise on gelato… to date. I’ll let you know more the more cones I consume 🙂

Our favorite gelateria!

After gelato on Saturday we went to what many consider the best restaurant in Florence. It’s practically hidden in the side streets and although everyone and every book says you need a reservation, we walked right in at 8pm on Saturday no problem. From the dried hams hanging from the ceiling to the owner walking around to each table making sure everything is perfect, Il Latini screams Italy. Homemade everything down to the wine and olive oil- this place is so fresh they don’t even have menus because meals vary depending on what was the highest quality, most fresh ingredients available at the market that day. We enjoyed a delicious first and third (appetizer and main dish), skipping the second of pasta with both wine and laughter. We got the experience and meal for less than many in America spend at a fake ‘fancy’ chain restaurant.

Piazza della Repubblica

Sunday and Monday were spent doing the touristy thing. Katina did her job showing us around and because Florence is really not that large of a city we were able to feel comfortable knowing our way around very soon. We decided to save all of the museums and churches that required money to get in until October or later as many of the prices drop to half because of the ‘high season’ being over. David will wait. We ate lunch near our hostel in the P. della Repubblica and it may have been the most beautiful lunch I have ever experienced. Beautiful to my eyes with the gorgeous carousel taking children and adults for a spin. Beautiful to my ears with the women singing opera off to the side of the  square being accompanied by an accordion, free, for all to enjoy. Beautiful to my nose with the bouquet of the red wine. Beautiful to be mouth with the fresh fruit and cream I was eating. But mostly beautiful to my hand to be held at the moment by the man that I love. After saying goodbye to Katina on Sunday night we walked around for 4 hours doing nothing but enjoying each others company and the beauty of Florence at night. Mitch looked at me said, “The city is yours” so we just did as we pleased. Following Katina’s advice to see the city at night from the Piazza della Michelangelo, we climbed what seemed to be a mountain of stairs to not only be greeted with a most steller view of the city, but with fireworks exploding in the background. It was magical! We have no idea why there were fireworks at midnight on a Sunday, but it made my weekend! We sat on the stairs until the grand finale and lazily walked back to our hostel.

Padlock and keys

The only thing worth mentioning we did on Monday is technically not allowed and could result in a 50€ penalty, but what can I say, I guess I’m a hopeless romantic. The Ponte Vecchio literally meaning ‘old bridge’ and first appears in writing around 996. During World War 2 the Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge in Florence not to be destroyed by Germans during their retreat of August 4, 1944, an direct order by Hitler. It is rumored the bomber couldn’t bring himself to destroy such a beautiful, old bridge. Store fronts have been many things through the centuries, but are currently high-quality jewelers and art collectors. Anyway, back to Monday! Legend has it that if you and your loved one attach a padlock to any surface of the famous bridge and then throw away the key into the Arno River below, your love will be bonded forever. Millions of couples have come to the Ponte Vecchio for exactly this reason, to lock in their love and throw away the key for eternity. Following tradition, Mitch and I locked our padlock onto the bridge (secretly of course) and threw our keys into the Arno below. Even though it is believed the tradition was started by a locksmith at the end of the bridge to increase revenue and the overabundance of padlocks gave the bridge a gaudy appearance, I’m still glad that we got to partake. To semi-quote Mitch, “The city will always be ours”

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3 Responses to “Florence/Firenze”

  1. Mom September 11, 2012 at 11:06 pm #

    Sounds like a fabulous weekend!!! The city is yours, for where ever you go you leave a piece of yourself and take a piece of it with you!!! Love you!!!

  2. Scott Erb September 18, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

    I’m glad you liked one of my blog posts so I could find my way here – I look forward to reading about your adventures! When you’re in Florence if you haven’t tried the Gelateria Neri (on dei Neri street, near Santa Croce) it is the BEST gelato in Italy. I lived in Bologna for a year, and along with three college lead travel courses to Italy (from the University of Maine Farmington) every other year (usually with 40 students, which is quite a bit). I enjoy already reading your experiences in a fantastic country (with so much diversity – from Sardegna and Sicily to the alps!). I wish you two the best and will keep reading!

    • lovebeautyexperience September 19, 2012 at 6:37 pm #

      Thanks so much Scott, we’re ALWAYS accepting the best gelateria in Italy applications haha

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