Saturday, July 4, 2009

Italia...Day Four

I know you're wondering why I'm blogging about Italy instead of that precious little bundle!'s because T and I work on the Italy posts together and he's home and available right now...and since it's been nine months since that wonderful trip...we've got to finish or we'll forget.

In a nutshell...we took the train to Florence and rambled about, saw some great art, ate a delicious dinner, and crashed. fill in the gaps...we rose early and had our last most fabulous breakfast ever, checked out of our hotel, and literally wove our way through a gay rights parade. Lovely start to the day. The train station was several hundred yards from the hotel, making for a brisk walk.  (We're laughing about it now, but the walk was "brisk" due to a little disagreement we had...)

Our train tickets were pre-paid, and as uncomplicated as that should make things, we didn't realize all we had to do was get on the train...there was a bit of a language barrier on exactly what we needed to do...eventually we decided to just get on the train and hoped we'd done things right. We had.

On this particular train ride we sat with the Ts from New York. She is a hairdresser and he is a, well, that's why we should've done this sooner. We can't remember what he did for a living.  Anyway, we also met a couple from CA. He was a CEO and she was an accountant. At 10am they had that "it's five o'clock somewhere" thing going. They pretty much kept to themselves while we yakked it up with the Ts. It was a great ride and my T got to explain nuclear power - which always fascinates me.

Upon arrival in Florence we realized I had picked up the wrong "Florence" travel book...and thus we did not have a map or our list of things we wanted to see. Great. So T made his way to a tourist-y booth and paid way too much for a map. Thanks to me. Then we spent more than we should have on a "guide to Florence" that was a bummer of a read...and then we found a bookstore that had the "lonely planet" guide book in English...much better! 

It was an overcast day and was drizzling as we plodded along the sidewalk of about eight city blocks to reach our hotel. Ok...the people in Florence are in a hurry. I thought we might get knocked off the sidewalk multiple times. We were thankful we'd packed so light!

The hotel...Hotel Campioni...was exquisite! My very favorite in terms of decor! There was a single door beneath a striped awning. We entered and there was no felt like we were walking into someone's private residence. At the end of a beautifully decorated narrow hall there was a small desk where we were greeted by the attendant. This is where we made a mistake. Perhaps. Our travel agent told us we didn't have to accept help with our bags, and therefore no tip would be necessary. When Mr. Butler (an older gentleman) stepped forward to take our bags, we declined. His nose, immediately, went up in the air and there was an aura of disdain. He showed us to our room which was on the third floor. It was gorgeous. Tiny, but gorgeous. The walls were papered in a light buttery and cream wide stripe. The bedding was all white. There was a tall armoire with mirrored doors against one wall, two twin beds pushed together along another wall, with sconces on either side, a huge window that opened and looked out over the street below. The bathroom was a cream colored stone...all large tiles...and it was pretty cramped, but beautiful! The room was carpeted and felt so gorgeous. It was very well done. And so welcoming...I loved it!!!

After we settled in, we walked around for a while. We walked past the Duomo, Baptistry, and Campanile. I, personally, was shocked. From the slides and images I'd studied in art history, I thought the Duomo was black and white...very cool. No. Not quite. Try green and white with salmon pink accents. I wasn't such a fan. T, on the other hand, was. 

We headed over to the Piazza Della Signoria and checked out several reproductions of famous sculptures...such as David. T loved this part and we spent a decent chunk of time there, photographing and finishing off some delicious gelatto. 

Just a few feet away was the entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio. They were doing some major renovating and as we waited in line, we watched painters (as in, fine art painters) matching paint colors and carefully restoring portions of murals. As we walked further in, we found ourselves in a sort of stone courtyard. There were statues and a fountain and a huge staircase leading upward into room upon room of fine art and ornate furniture. It was, quite frankly, beautiful. There was beautiful painting after beautiful painting...breathtaking fresco after breathtaking was unbelievable.

By the time we exited, the rain was falling steadily and we headed over to a corner restaurant. Ordering was completely confusing. Finally we unknowingly went "buffet style" which meant we pointed to what we wanted and the woman behind the counter served our plates accordingly. We paid (and the guy behind the register was very gracious and helped us with some translating) and made our way to the covered outdoor seating area. We sat...and were shooed away by a waiter...we'd ordered off the buffet, not the menu. So we sat where the buffet people were allowed to sit. 

(more gorgeous doors/sculptures)

Then we walked around the Piazza di Santa Croce looking for a certain school for leather craftsmen which I was so hoping to visit. The travel guide (the one left in the USA) indicated this school was known for turning out skilled leather craftsmen whose hand work is sold at great prices. I wanted a first hand view... It turned out the school was in the back of the Basilica di Santa Maria Novella and it was closed. We opted to head back the next day.

We made our way back in the direction of our hotel and decided to try a restaurant (marked in the guide book) called La Coquina. Oh what a fine, fine, FINE decision that was!!! We waited a few minutes and were seated. We ordered an appetizer of pears, fresh bread, and Gorgonzola cheese...which was divine. I pulled out my camera for that one, but put it away after the look T gave me. Too tourist-y? So...I don't have pics of the divine food, but oh how good it was! T ordered Gnocchi. That's a heavy pasta made from potatoes with some kind of mushroom sauce. I ordered the vegetable pie. Oh that vegetable pie was D-I-V-I-N-E. It was sliced like a traditional piece of pie...layer upon layer of thinly (like slivers) sliced vegetables - zucchini, egg plant, tomatoes, etc. It was so good. We both enjoyed a glass of Chianti. Unfortunately, by this time, T was running fever and had a headache, so we asked for the check. The waiter - the only waiter in the restaurant, who was skinny and ran around like a crazy mad man, was offended. He thought he'd done something. We assured him T just didn't feel well and paid our ticket.

We headed back to the hotel and T was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.

I stayed up and journaled. 

The end of day four.

1 comment:

  1. I'm lovin' these Italy posts! Take care of yourself and that precious baby! Love ya, Jenn!