Saturday, April 01, 2017

3/18/17- The streets of Florence

How's that for a view?

Dad has been sleeping in lately so I took advantage of his slumber and got an early start on Florence.  I loaded up on my Rick Steve's podcasts and headed down to the old city using the super scenic viale michelangelo.

Before I proceed any further let me drop a surprising tip.  If you're willing to make the minimal sacrifice of getting out the door before 7am in just about any Italian town you will literally have the streets to yourself.  This is amazing when you consider that three hours later you are literally drowning in a sea of humanity.

The lesser known and more effeminate David
After spending some good time savoring a peaceful view of the city from the Piazzale Michelangelo I was off to the Bargello museum.  This place doesn't have the volume of the Uffizi but it also doesn't have its crowds either.  It is a great place to quietly get up close to some amazing works from Michelangelo, Donatello, and Ghiberti.  My hour was spent in quiet solitude quietly contemplating their genius.  Another highlight was to see the bronze door entries from Brunelleschi & Ghiberti that were said to have launched the renaissance.

From the museum I headed west to the Piazza della Signoria the proverbial but much more cool 'Times Square' of Florence.  The place is much more magnificent and enchanting when you aren't shoulder to shoulder with tourists.  I had another hour to kill before meeting my dad so I decided to wander the nearby streets in search of some good pictures and a lampredotto sandwich.  I was about half way through my stroll when, like the swallows returning to Capistrano, the crowds emerged.

Starting to lose track of these buildings
I met up with my dad at the Ponte Vecchio and we were soon being shuttled around on a little golf cart by a local guide.  This was a good opportunity for my dad to cover a lot of ground and for me to get some local insight into some areas that I hadn't explored before.  Of particular interest was learning about the devastation caused by the 1967 flood of the Arno and the historical burials at the Santa Croce.

The tour was followed by a pleasant and solid meal at Osteria de’ Peccatori.  Between the two of us we played it safe with pizza, ravoili, and  wild boar tagliatelle. My dad is programmed to require sweets after each meal so he had me hunt down some gelato at Vivoli. It was there that I stumbled upon my new favorite flavor, rice.  

We managed to have a pleasant afternoon as well, crowds not withstanding.  I took my dad over to visit the gallery of artists selling their work outside of the Uffizi.  We spent some more time wondering how Brunelleschi got all of those bricks to cooperate on the creation of the duomo.  We even had a few nice moments walking down the Arno.  A very fulfilling if not somewhat exhausting day in the city.

The better looking David
We didn't have a lot of energy going into the evening hours so we played it close for dinner.  After consecutive nights at Da Ruggero we opted for another alternative down the same street, Cotta a Putino.  It was known primarily as a pizza joint but I was in the mood for something else.  They were
playing some old school US jazz which brought a smile to my dad's facce. I let the waitress talk me into their 'hamburger' which was essentially a beef patty with some tomatoes laid over some lettuce.  I made a poor decision and spent the rest of the meal picking at my dad's seafood.

  • Italian tip of the day- Don't exchange money at the exchange houses in these towns, make due with the foreign transaction fees on your credit card.  I tried to change in $100 and was blown away that the rate was about 25% higher than the current exchange rate going.  
  • Food highlight-  The rice gelato at Vivoli or the Wild Boar ragout.  
  • Things we regretted not doing today- I wish we would have visited the Eataly marketplace and I wish we would have gotten a custom belt made down in the leather district.

More information on the doors in the Bargello

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