Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Florence - October 22, 2010

We had another lovely breakfast of eggs, said arrivederci to Robert and Lucilla then head out to Siena. We were supposed to drop off the rental car at 10am so we had lots of time since we left before 9am. You know where this is going, don’t you…. Well, first we stop for gas in Siena. No, no. No diesel. And that was the Esso station. Off we go to find another gas station. We found one, gassed up and then looked for the wall and the gates so we could find Avis. I won’t give you the play by play on this one but let’s just say that we spent almost as much time driving around Siena as we did to get from Montalcino. When we drove up to the train station, I suggested abandoning the car there and calling Avis to come get the stupid thing. Exiting from the entrance and having an old Italian guy wave his fist at us was a touching goodbye. A couple of wrong turns later, we actually found Avis and breathed a sigh of relief. It was only 10:15 so not too late. We grabbed a taxi to the train station and calmed our nerves with two large Moretti. And guess what? We didn’t yell at or kill each other during our Siena tour. Not even mumbling words of whazza comin a go. Ah, the true test of marriage, getting lost in a foreign city. We had a female taxi driver take us to the train station, and our only female on the trip. It was a van type vehicle with really high ceilings and how she explained to Kelly to close the door “it’s like a gun handle, just like the trigger”. Super… but Kelly figured it out from that description.
We took the commuter train from Siena to Florence and then grabbed a taxi to our B&B – the Residenza dei Pucci. It was located right near the Duomo and only a couple of blocks  from Galleria dell’Accademia. We dropped our bags off and headed to the Accademia to see Michelangelo’s David. Only had to stand in line for about 15 minutes so without a reservation, not bad at all. There were no signs saying you couldn’t take pictures and no one mentioned anything so in the first room, I snapped a picture and then was told NO PICTURES. Oops. Mi scusi. The next room, that housed David had a sign saying no pictures although I saw at least three people sneaking a photo. David is impressive – I didn’t realize how tall the statue is. His hands and feet seem disproportionately large. I’m sure there’s a reason for that. The rest of the gallery had pre-Renaissance and Renaissance paintings and plaster models. We did a hot lap through some of the Renaissance paintings. I can only look at so many Madonna with baby pictures before they start to look the same. Have you noticed that the babies never look like babies? They look like miniature adults, usually men. Nothing soft or babyish looking.
After the Galleria, we headed to the Duomo and Piazza. There was a mandatory stop for gelato – Florence is supposed to have some of e best so we thought we would suffer through yet another serving. I had lemon sorbet and a vanilla with chocolate chips. Kelly had coffee and crème. All good but I have to say, San Crispino’s in Rome still has our vote for the best gelato. We tried to get into the Affizi Gallery but the line was too long so we thought we’d try again later. Off we went across the Ponte Vecchio bridge and window shopped through the mountains of gold and silver they have in every shop. There must have been 60 jewellery stores along the bridge – and one leather shop. I wonder who let them on the block. Lots of shiny baubles but nothing that caught my eye. We headed back to the Piazza Della Signoria for a late lunch/snack of pizza and wine. The pigeons there are crazy. They’ll dive bomb your head, fly onto your plate (and fight with another pigeon over crumbs) and just stare at you so you know who’s boss. There was a concert or band setting up in the piazza so we asked the waiter what was playing. His answer – bad music. Alright then, we’re out.
We walked around a bit more, looked at some shoes and jackets but didn’t buy anything. We went back to the Affizi but it was closing in 45 minutes (Rick’s book said that we had another hour and a half…) so we decided not to hot lap it. So back to the B&B for a short nap before dinner. There seemed to be more questionable characters in Florence than we saw in Rome and they were making me a bit uncomfortable. On a friend’s suggestion, we went to Cantina Barbagianni for dinner. It was just a few blocks from our place and well worth the visit. We didn’t have a reservation so we sat upstairs – apparently the downstairs is quite large while there are only about 10 tables upstairs. The other couple upstairs, also North American, ordered the steak Florentine and it was massive. 45 euros per kilo – and it looked like they ordered a kilo. Mind you, they polished off most of it and took what was remaining with them. We had a bottle of Rosso Di Montalcino and Kelly started with a cheese platter. That would have been more than enough for both of us but I ordered the beef carpaccio which was yummy. Kelly’s cheese platter had five types of cheese ranging from mild to strong. I can’t recall what they all were, but there were two types of pecorni and a gargonzola. They were all nice and it came with a spoonful of homemade jams – one was with a white wine and the other, a chianti. Very nice indeed! For dinner, although we were full, Kelly had a bagoli pasta with meat sauce. The pasta is similar to spaghetti but thicker. His was ok but the pasta we had in Montalcino was nicer. I thought I was ordering pasta as well but apparently malfati is not pasta. I’m not sure what it was but it was made with ricotta and spinach and topped with black truffles. It was a nice dish. We headed back to the room after dinner as it was about 10:30 now and we didn’t know where else to go. Tomorrow, Venice.

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