Wow, I can’t believe it has been two weeks since I last wrote to everyone. Time flies and craziness ensues when I don’t keep up. Truthfully, only the last week or so has been crazy. The week before was the calm before the storm. My feet hurt, I haven’t been on my bike in 10 days, and I gained at least five pounds. I totally blame C & A for these problems but it was worth every second for a wonderful week with fantastic friends.
Let me give you some highlights of the first couple days and hopefully next week I can catch you up on the rest of it.
First let me remind you that Italian holidays are not American holidays and vice versa. I know that seems obvious but sometimes it is easy to forget, even when you live here. What that means is some days Will has to work when our neighbors stay home and sometimes we have a holiday that isn’t celebrated by the Italians. Labor Day is one of those days. As an American worker celebrating the day of American workers Will and I headed down to Firenze (Florence) to pick up our friends C & A for a week of adventures!
We grabbed the two of them from the Santa Maria Novella train station and then took a scenic drive up to Castellina in the Chianti region. You might think for wine but you would be wrong.
Nope, we went up there because they have the best gelato in Italy. Hands Down!! Yes, I am making that claim. It is just pure heaven. Please if you have a car and you are in Tuscany make the drive to Gelateria di Castellina. You won’t be disappointed. And if you are, then you obviously don’t understand good gelato.
We headed back to Firenze after walking around Castellina; where Will and A bought new cycling kits with large black roosters. It started a theme for the week and we looked for roosters everywhere we went. (Full disclosure, we had many themes for the week but that’s what happens when you are hanging out with good friends).
Our Air BnB was wonderful, a little outside of the inner circle of Firenze’s old city. Honestly, it was a small walk to and from but the neighborhood was quaint and believe me when I say that we needed all the walking we could get. (We ate a lot of food, drank a lot of wine, and finished it all off with gelato).
Firenze has a vibe to it that reminds you that it is the Renaissance. If Roma (Rome) incorporates the technologies well beyond its own time then Firenze reminds you that beauty and art were meant to have a part in the world. From Michelangelo, to Donatello, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Duomo designed by Filippo Brunelleschi.
To view the Duomo is to view beauty in itself. If you aren’t moved by the site of the Duomo, I am not sure that we can still be friends.
The people also takes great pride in their city and despite the millions of tourists (10.2 million in 2017) that pass through Firenze each year the people remain helpful, kind, and gregarious. (The tourists don’t seem to possess as many of these good qualities)
We took in the city and C & A’s first view of the Duomo in the evening after a fantastic meal at, wait for it…
Rooster Cafe!! Their food was exceptional and if you are in Firenze I suggest you hit them up. They are close to the Church of Santa Trinita. (That would be the church I got in trouble in a couple of years ago because my flash was on auto and made bright lights while I was taking a picture. A BIG No No in museums and churches!)
The Church of Santa Trinita is known for the frescoes created by Domenico Ghirlandaio, a Renaissance painter of the third generation and a contemporary of Sandro Botticelli (he painted the Primavera and The Birth of Venus two of my favorites.) Ghirlandaio is not as well known, unless you are into Italian Renaissance art, but he was also quite talented. He ran a large workshop that Michelangelo passed through to learn and work. Ghirlandaio was known for putting contemporary people into religious narratives.
We did a quick run in to the church to see some of Ghirlandaio’s famous frescoes before our Rooster meal, then a quick tour around town and some gelato at Perche, No?, which, while not as good as Castellina is still pretty tasty.
Tuesday we drove up to the Piazzale Michelangelo for breathtaking views of the city. Then we did a grocery store run, which if you haven’t shopped it an Italian grocery store is a treat (Remember! Don’t touch the produce without a plastic glove!). After dropping the groceries back at our BnB we walked to town, wandered through a couple of leather markets, found some lunch and a bunch of street art. Then we dropped of C & A to take in the Accademia Gallery to see Michelangelo’s David. Truly another don’t miss ticket item in Florence. Michelangelo was a mediocre painter, in my opinion, but his sculpture was bellissimo. And David is one of the finest sculptures, in my opinion, to exist (and to think Will had to talk me into seeing it the first time).
While they were viewing the David, Will and I found a music store and a store called Fiori del Tempo (Flowers of Time) that makes beautiful artistic jewelry. I bought two pairs of earrings, Will did not buy a guitar or an amp. He, obviously, has better self control than I do.
We found C & A, went and ate more food, headed home and took a leisurely morning before we went to climb the Duomo the next morning.
I’ll talk about that next week but just a quick note, two of us on this trip are not concerned with heights, two of us are. Next week when you look at the pictures see if you can figure out who is who!
Until then, have a fabulous week and I will begin to clean my house in preparation for my daughter, son-in-law, and grandson’s visit in 10 days!!!
Ciao miei Amici