The day we drove from Cinque Terre to Florence started out with a little drama. Rain was on the way and our favorite waitress, Stella, was dramatically waving her hands and babbling off warnings in Italian. We could not understand what her concern was for, it was starting to rain but didn’t look like anything severe. Eventually, we talked with our B&B owner who warned us that the town parking garage would soon be locked and the roads would be shut down.
The hubs rushed to get our car while the rest of us hastily packed. Bolting out of town but feeling a little skeptical that the roads would actually shut down because of drizzling rain, we headed to Collodi, a Tuscan village on the way to Florence famous for being home to the author of The Adventures of Pinocchio.
Escaping the sudden downpour, we ducked into La Cantina di Pinocchio and unsurprisingly, had the place to ourselves. The town was pretty teeny and there wasn’t much to see, but we were happy to not be navigating Italian highways in the torrential rain. While the restaurant felt a little touristy, the menu was strictly in Italian and our waitress only spoke a bit of English. She tried to warn me that my order, which I vehemently convinced myself was a mushroom steak, was reaaaallllly big, but I insited that I knew what it meant. Twenty minutes later, an enourmous steak topped with mushrooms arrived. Whooopsss, good thing Dad was hungry!In Florence, we easily found our reserved parking garage and quickly navigated around the corner to our AirBnB. Apparently the rain had caused some commotion so we had to wait a bit for our contact to show us in, but it was fun to be in a residential neighborhood and the place gave us a taste of Italian city living.
Quickly after settling in, we jetted off to the Uffuzi Gallery, where I thought The David lived. After walking through the entire gallery, we learned that The David was at a completely different gallery. Whoops again. Don’t always trust TripAdvisor reviewers.
None of us are all too into art, but it was cool to walk around and see so many masterpieces in one place. Countless church artifacts decorated the walls, and the paintings were endless. I’d read The Passion of Artemisia which painted a picture of an artist’s life in Italy during the Renaissance Period, so it was interesting to see the style of portraits that people like her devoted their life to, and their surroundings that provided such inspiration.
Culturally enhanced, we wandered around to take the beautiful city sights. Circling the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is unavoidable and equally unbelievable. This 15th century structure was especially glorious during the golden hour as the sun was setting.Another spectacle to see during sunset is the Ponte Vecchio bridge. The reflection of the ancient buildings in the river was stunning and infinitely more beautiful than any piece of art in a gallery. Shops housed along the bridge create an incredibly unique sight.Later that evening, after a fabulous and memorable dinner La Bussola, we slowly made our way through the nearly empty streets to our apartment. Because Vivoli, a notable gelato shop just around the corner wouldn’t be open the following evening, we made a little room for a scoop. Back at our place, we all gave the key a try and decided my Dad wasn’t all that incapable of opening the door before calling our contact. His certainty that the key should work just fine had us all irritated, but nothing a little wine couldn’t fix while we waited for him to come unlock the door. Turns out, the door (which opened to a small hallway where our actual apartment door was located) had been locked from the inside by the neighbor, so we weren’t crazy, just a little PO’d! Laughing it off to a day with more wrong turns than right, we went to bed full of delicious food and stunning sights. Day two in Florence was bound to be seamless. The Florence for Foodies Tour took up most of the day and the good part of our bellies too. We started off at the central market in San Lorenzo where it’s never too early for a flavor-bursting hot boiled beef in a bread roll at Da Nerbone. The place is ancient, established in the late 1800s, and is still thriving, though at 10:30, we had the it to ourselves.Further into the market, we tasted perfectly baked biscotti, truffle cheese, a range of balsamic glazes, wine, chutney and more. The second to best part of the tour was the grappa tasting “experience”. To properly sample, the taster is
spritzed doused with grappa from perfume-like bottles by several others. It was pretty hilarious to watch, and my Dad was loving volunteering for the experience. When in Florence! The grappa sampling was so unique and different, but the gelato tasting stole the show. After about nine [very generous] samples at Perché no!, I could have continued to eat the Pistachio gelato for the remainder of the day. It was indescribably delicious (and kind of tasted like peanut butter!). Despite our food coma, there was shopping to do. We set off towards Borgo Dei Greci, a street packed with leather stores recommended by our AirBnB contact. Mom, the hubs and I had a couple of bags full of leather bags by the time Dad met up with us.
Excited for the highly acclaimed Ristorante La Giostra, we set off for another beautiful walk through the city. Candlelit and decorated with white lights, it seemed like the food couldn’t outdo the atmosphere…but it did. My pear ravioli surpassed all expectations, and the salad even quickly disappeared. The evening was an absolutely perfect end to our quick two day city trip. Ready for part tre, we slept well in preparation for our adventures in Tuscany.