Thanks to historical flooding in Germany, getting to Florence was a last minute decision and required an overnight train ride from Amsterdam. With so little time, wandering around allowing myself to just get lost seemed like the best option.
Where to Stay:
Relais Cavalcanti- (http://www.relaiscavalcanti.com/?lang=en) A 13th century palace-turned-guesthouse restored by the lovely Anna and her sister ten years ago. The palace has been in their family for generations when the two decided to restore it and turn it into a guesthouse. The kitchen is always stocked with fruits, juices, and snacks. And the location is perfect, right in the heart of the bustling city and just above a great marketplace that hosts dozens of vendors during the day and a few musicians and performers at night.
Known as the great leather capital of the world- Purses, wallets, jackets, briefcases and all things leather can easily be found anywhere in Florence, Shops and outdoor markets are on just about every street.
There are also some residents angered by all of this leather, so I wasn’t too surprised when a parade of animal rights protestors made their way through the city streets shooting off red powder flares and carrying banners protesting the mistreatment of animals. The parade was followed closely by both the polizia (regular police) and the carabinieri (more like armed forces police, in case you’re wondering).
Not long after the procession of protestors passed by, a parade celebrating the start of the Calcio Storico, (16th century historic football) marched by wearing colorful costumes, holding flags, and beating their drums.
Thick crowds of people lined up outside all the most beautiful duomos (churches), as well as to see Michaelangelo’s David. I wish I’d had both the patience and the time to wait in line and I would like to blame it on having a ten-year old but she never minds the lines especially if it means she can stop walking for a bit.
The beauty of allowing yourself to get lost is that often times you come upon something or someplace pleasantly surprising as I did here in Florence after wandering down a dim, deserted alley- Trattoria La Bruassca- where I had an unusual Tuscan Tomato Soup, thick enough to eat with a fork and a garden salad. Jordan, my 10 year old, ordered gnocchi with fresh tomatoes- a portion big enough to feed us both for days.
When we entered the cozy restaurant, the staff was happily singing in Italian but minutes later, after the waiter learned we were from America, Pink Floyd began playing throughout the tiny restaurant and continued until we left. They seemed very proud to be offering me American music, and although I preferred the singing Italian waiters, I couldn’t help but smile at the kind gesture.
Osteria del Porcellino (http://www.osteriadelporcellino.com/)
Just below the guesthouse. Maybe the best meal in all of Italy. The tender homemade pasta in cream sauce with pear and walnut was unforgettable.
- Many places both here in Florence and throughout Italy charge a service/ cover charge usually around €2 per person.
- Portions are enormous everywhere throughout Italy and often times there are many courses. Pace yourself unless you plan to buy new pants every few days 🙂