Today was an absolutely jam-packed day. We are certainly not slowing things down like we said that we would, but the city has taken hold of us and it's almost difficult to NOT walk down one more side street and explore.
We started out the day by waking up at 11am, which is about 5-6 hours later than we normally get up for work. Shocked, looking at the clock, we both decided that we absolutely needed the sleep from our long travel day. I got in my running gear and took to the streets. This is something I will not do again at noon, as it is just way too hot in the sun to be doing heavy cardio. But, it was fun rocking out to Bruno Mars and running two minutes to the Arno River. The thought "this is my life now" kept running through my head as I crossed the river and stared at the Ponte Vecchio. I came up west on the river, crossed over the Ponte Vecchio, and proceeded to run in a direction that I didn't really know and got totally lost. Loved it.
Got home, showered, and Mike and I had lunch at my favorite lunch spot, Baldovino. I've talked about it before. The pictures of his hummus and Arabic bread and my bruschetta should make your mouth water.
Of course, I couldn't deal without having gelato after lunch. I brought Mike to one of the most famous gellaterias in Florence called Vivoli. He ordered melone and I ordered fragola. I usually don't go for the fruity flavors, but it was early in the day. I'm planning on having it twice a day anyway, so the chocolate can be for after dinner.
Then, we started walking. We had absolutely no idea where we were going, except that Mike had to see the Duomo close up. We ended up walking over towards the Duomo and shopped for our friends (no spoilers here!). However, we'll update you with my pashmina count on the blog. Ready for it?
We shopped in Piazza San Lorenzo, a huge open market with a lot of the same stuff. Firenze shirts, Firenze bags, Firenze key chains, and so forth. It smells of leather like you wouldn't believe. I love the market, but it gets very overwhelming to go to cart after cart, just trying to browse. The vendors are very persistent, and if you break your focus, you're in a power struggle between your good sense and your urge to buy everything for the price that keeps getting lowered by the second. Mike will back me up when I say that I was under control.
We then walked over to Santa Maria Novella, where the big train station/bus station is in Florence. We needed to figure out how to get the Number 7 bus to Fiesole, a hill town north of Firenze that has a beautiful view of the city. It took almost two hours to figure out, and about 3 miles of extra walking, but we made it there and it was beautiful. We ate dinner at Cafe al Numero 5, outside in the little square. Mike ordered Ravioli al Pomodoro, and I ordered Tagliatelle al Bolognese. Both plates are pictured, and they were absolutely delicious. We joked that the blog should show the pictures of the food and immediately the empty plates. We won't bore you with that.
Speaking of extra walking, Mike and I are logging how many steps we're taking in Italy by using his pedometer. Yesterday was only 3,135. Today's tally is 16,906.
After taking the 7 back to San Marco, we started to walk home. It wasn't a direct walk home, as we were just exploring different squares and taking in Florence by night. As we were walking, I remembered that Nick Zammarelli gave me a project to work on for him in Firenze. He asked me to create an Italy soundscape by voice memos on my phone. Because Nick is visually impaired, he will not be able to see my pictures. He will learn about our trip to Italy aurally, and I have to say that this is going to be one of my favorite things that I will do in Italy. It's because of Nick's request that the end of our night totally changed.
I opened up my voice memos to record a flutist playing Christmas carols on a quiet little street. Yes, Christmas carols. In July. Whatever. We stayed on the street for a bit and walked slowly so I could record the flutist. As we were about to leave, a (somewhat drunken) man walks up to us and asks us where he can find the bar Colle Bereto in Piazza Strozzi. We had no idea. He was speaking Italian to us, but I asked him if he spoke English. Of course, he was from Atlanta. We started walking for about ten steps, and then we see the bar! So funny. Anyway, he hung with us and we all became friends. As good friends as two sober people and one drunkard could be. I thought he was hilarious, and Mike was cracking up at our entire conversation. We were talking, and I stopped our convo because the flutist around the corner (remember him?) started playing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." I commented on the carol in the middle of July. Jason Elsky, our new friend, said that there was no way we were hearing Christmas songs in July, and that our ears were messed up. He also bet us 120 Euro that we were wrong. I didn't take the bet, just because I knew that we were totally going to win and I couldn't ever take someone's money like that.
Once we walked over and proved him wrong, a man sitting on a bench spoke up, talking about how he hears that same flute player twice a year, in the same spot, whenever he visits Florence. Blog followers, meet Bob Goodman. Bob is married with a 12 year old daughter whom he just dropped off at summer camp. The four of us sat together and talked for about an hour. This was now at about midnight. Bob mentions this literary bar Giubbe Rosse Bar Cafe Firenze that he loves to go to and convinces us to walk over for a drink. We pulled Jason away from the club-like vibe of Colle Bereto and we all sat outside in the square until 2am, when we closed out the place. The joke of the night was that Jason was sick and tired of the men coming around with roses to buy. This wouldn't have been a problem for him or anyone else if I wasn't sitting with them. As we left our seats, another man came up to us with a bunch of roses. Before Jason could loudly turn him away, Mike gives the guy one Euro and gives Jason the rose. We took pictures of the rose in my hair, and me with the Pakistani rose salesman, but those are on Jason's camera! We're supposed to become Facebook friends, so hopefully I'll get the pictures from him soon.
Bob invited us up to the medieval town of Lucca tomorrow. We're going to go with him! This is the nice thing about Italy. We had plans to get up at 6:30 and take the train to Sienna. Plans can change when you're on vacation, and now we're going to see a town 40 minutes away from Firenze that we had no plan to visit. There is supposedly a forty foot deep stone wall surrounding the city that used to have a moat around it. Bob says that it's the most well-preserved medieval walled cities in Europe. Can't wait to see it. The only thing I know about Lucca is that it's a nice Italian restaurant in Boston's North End and Back Bay. I think this is going to change that.
|Bruschetta from Baldovino|
|Hummus and Arabic bread from Baldovino|
|Santa Croce (right down the street from our apartment. Buried here are Rossini, Dante Alghieri, Galileo, and Michelangelo.|
|Bags in San Lorenzo market|
|Belts in San Lorenzo market|
|Cypress trees in Fiesole|
|Duomo, one of the most humbling sights I've ever seen|
|View of Firenze from the hills of Fiesole|
|Ravioli alla Pomodoro|
|Taglietelle alla Bolognese|
|Thumbs up, Duomo|
|We were commenting that it looks just like a movie set!|
|Alley and new friend Jason|
|Mike and Jason|