It is notable that there are no Starbucks in Florence that I could see. This required me to drum up the courage to enter an Italian speaking patisserie and order. After fumbling with words that likely sounded more like broken Spanish than Italian the barista put me out of my misery and spoke near perfect English. They must do this as a pastime with Americans. I ordered an espresso (same word in Italian as it is in English) and sat back watching the behaviors of Sunday morning coffee drinkers in Italy. I noted that most ride up on moped. Some remove their helmets while other don't. Most ordered cappachino and most ate a pastry of some sugared variety. Here's the kicker: none pulled out their smartphones; all talked to each other even though I'm fairly confident they all did not know each other. Cool. On this same stroll I also saw many Sunday cyclists in full garb but the best group I saw were all riding vintage racing road bikes with vintage kits to match.
We had an active day today. I spent the early morning on a stroll by myself while the city slowly woke up. Odd as it may sound, waking up early and getting out is one of my favorite things to do while on vacation. After my walkabout and a quick European breakfast of bread, cheese and cappachino, we met up with Tracy and Alex and left for museum one of two on the day. The Academia was our first stop and it did not disappoint. First off, we walked right in thanks to Alex's planning ahead with Massimo, the local hotel owner. Non-advanced tickets meant you stood in line for a long time prior to getting in. Holding advanced tickets means you got straight in when you reservation time came up. This museum was home to the original David. It was amazing. 20 feet tall, all marble and all the detail of a very fit human figure. Making sculptures from stone seems hard. No pics allowed in this museum, but a replica of the sculpture was found near the UFFIZI museum.
After the Academia we walked upon a farmers market in a local square (piazza) where we picked up a few knick-nacks and admired local artisans who made honey, cheese, copper art, etc. A very cool spot that seemed tailored to the locals rather than the tourists. Next 2 church visits, both from roughly 12-1300 AD. Crazy historic churches complete with tombs! In between churches we ate lunch at a sidewalk cafe making high quality pasta. The food always comes lightning fast but unlike the US, you always have to beg for the bill. Italians really want you to stay and relax after your meal. Good concept but it takes some getting used to for sure.
Our afternoon consisted of a quick call to the kids, finding out the Gators lost (ugh! Why does Miami own us like they do?!?!) and a walk back to Museum #2, the Uffizi (U-feet-zee) where we saw Bottocelli, Venus, some Da Vinci and some more Michaelangelo. I don't know my art and even I was impressed by the paintings and sculptures. That Michaelangelo fellow could really pump out some art! After lunch we strolled towards the hotel enjoying beverages along the way. Finally a brief break and then a wonderful Italian meal back near the Ponte Vecchia at a tiny restaurant (Chingale Bianco or White Boar) recommended by both Tracy's friend and Massimo at our hotel. It did not disappoint! Tracy had Boar, Alex had baby pig (nope, not like the one we all dissected in high school), Cindy had a strip steak with Parmesan and I had spinezette (?) which was basically spinach ricotta balls in a light butter sauce. More gelato from the gelatoria on our way back to the hotel after 11pm…we raged! I'm tired.
- Two museums in one day: perfect but three would have been too many.
- When accidentally surrounded by 5 people in a group in a museum, Cindy found it odd that they were seemingly frustrated that she was in their way.
- Sculptors are the highest form of artists in my opinion – it just doesn't seem do-able to me.
- US flat irons will die when plugged into a European plug with a converter.
- No tips on credit cards here. Cash tips only.
- When everyone drives a small car, there doesn't seem to be a small car stigma.
- Very little beats local bread in a farmers market. Ok, maybe local cheese in a farmers market does.