La mia bella città, Firenze

I will try to get through writing about my last day in Firenze without tears soaking the keyboard. I am over exaggerating of course, but it is sad to say arrivederci, even though all signs say it is time to move on.
The first on my list this morning was to enjoy a bistecca a la fiorentina for lunch. It seems that all the restaurants only offer this for two, but I have decided I would take that challenge. Katti at Trattoria Katti said they do a smaller version which is the filet, but I wanna go traditional. One of my books, The Food Lover’s Guide to Florence, said Trattoria Mario was one of the best places in town to experience this. When I was there the other day, the couple at the table next to me went on and on about how good it was. Plus I thought a heavy steak like that would be better at lunch (which Mario’s is only open for) than at dinner (which Katti’s is only open for).

Trattoria Mario’s opens at 12:00, but as I learned from my last visit, the line starts forming at about 11:30. So I head over early. 20130716-231937.jpg

When I arrive, Luca is once again outside talking with a friend. We do the “Ciao Luca” “Ciao Paj” Kiss/Kiss thing….he asks if I am here to get in line for lunch. During the next 15 minutes or so, several people start to congregate. Luca is already inside. At about 11:50, Fabio, Mario’s son, once again lets people come in but tells us they do not serve until 12:00. When I enter, he says, “Ciao Signora. Please-a…sit-a at-a your-a place-a.” as he motions to the table I had last time. Tourist to the sinistra, tourist to the destra…locals sprinkled in. It is funny to watch everyone’s reaction to the seating…some are open to it, some…not so much.
Lucca sits at “my” table again…this is obviously his usual. I am informed that Roberto only comes two times a week.

I share my plan of the bistecca a la fiorentina…Luca asks Stefano, the waiter, to allow me to have a small one, but first he insists I try the pappa al pomodor, a meta order. I tell him that I have had it at Trattoria Katti and that I loved it. “Katti? Katti? I-a do-a not-a know-a theesa Katti.” So I agree to try here.20130716-232414.jpg
Although it was very good….between you and mean, I like Katti’s better.
Stefano comes over and Luca does the ordering. I just look back and forth like I am watching a tennis match. Lucca lets me know that the steaks take a bit longer. I assure him I am in no hurry.

While I am looking around, I notice a little purple square with some words and a silhouette with devil horns.20130716-232712.jpg
I read aloud, “Io sto con Fabio…I am with Fabio” . Luca starts laughing and Fabio shoots him a look. I ask what does that mean. Lucca chooses his words carefully.
Basically, at last year’s football match between Firenze and Milano, Fabio….got a bit out of hand yelling at Milano’s coach… I asked, “He got in trouble for just yelling?” Lucca kinda laughs and then says, “He-a, he-a was-a using…come si dice….offensive language. And-a now-a,” Luca is trying hard not to laugh, “Now-a Fabio….can-a not-a go-a to the stadium-a for one-a year-a.”
I tell him that my brother also got in trouble one time for “shouting school slogans”. He laughs-a and says, “We-a are-a crazy-a for our-a foot-a ball-a.”
He adds that tonight at their stadium, there is a welcoming for one of their new players, Mario Gomez. He starts singing some kind of chant and a few others join in….
About that time, he sees some guy out the window, says something, jumps up and runs out. I watch through the window, and from the other guy’s reaction, I can tell they are not exactly friends…the guy turns and says something, but that is about it.
He comes back in all excited. He says that is another one of their players Massimo or something like that. I said, “What did you say I LOVE YOU man!!!” He laughed and said, “No, no, when I was-a a kid-a…yes-a….but-a now-a I just told him Viola Firenze!”
(Later that night, I could see viola smoke….Firenze’s colors….coming up from the stadium.)

During our wait, I ask Luca what their thoughts are about all the tourist. I ask if he can tell one nationality from another just by looking. “Oh-a sure-a sure-a…..” he looks out the window to illustrate, “That-a one-a….I think-a they-a are-a Russian….she-a might be-a Swedish, but-a he-a is-a definitely Russian.” I try my hand at identifying later and fail.

I inquire what it is that gives Americans away. He laughs again…trying to choose words. “The-a shoes-as, and the hat-a…definitely the hat-a….” He points to a guy in the trattoria and nods. I say, “Oh, cap?” “Yes-a the capp-a.”
Then he goes off on a McDonanld’s rant…that Italians believe Americans cannot know what good food is, they cannot wait for it and enjoy it. He also eludes to the Americans’ weight. Although I agree, I tell him wait a minute and I point to an older Italian man walking by outside with what appears to be a barrel under his shirt. Luca just shrugs and smiles.

About fifteen minutes into our wait for the bistecca, although I am showing no signs of distress, Luca looks at me and says, “You-a wish-a to-a go to-a McDonald’s?” No grazie!

The bistecca arrives…with le patate fritte….I was hoping those were on the order.20130716-234841.jpg20130716-234852.jpg Molto Buono!
And of course…a glass of rosso (and this time, I got a fancy glass!)
20130716-235050.jpg Fabio before the exile…

I say my ciaos to all, trying to express my gratitude the best I can…I know I fell short.

After lunch, I head for the Pitti Palace…luckily for me, it is on the other side of the Arno, so there is some walking involved.20130716-235217.jpg
Roaming the gardens reminded me of walking the gardens at Versailles.  I am sure this is not the best season to visit, it was still beautiful. 20130716-235550.jpg I can imagine this would be an awesome venue for a concert.20130716-235629.jpg20130716-235643.jpg20130716-235922.jpg
Although there were many people visiting, the grounds are so vast, you could easily walk alone for hours. I enjoyed imagining the Medici women in their dresses, roaming about using this as an opportunity to slip away and think.20130717-000136.jpg20130717-000149.jpg20130717-000203.jpg20130717-000223.jpg20130717-000234.jpg
I loved this little building. It has quite a view20130717-000312.jpg
And the inside is painted to give the illusion you are in a gazebo. 20130717-000356.jpg20130717-114832.jpg I do not know much about this statue, but it is depicted all over Firenze. I do know the tartaruga was Cosimo de Medici’s symbol.
With the impressive gardens, I will say the bagni were a letdown…


The water fountains did not disappoint.20130717-115330.jpg





After the heat and humidity of the gardens, I find a cooler (in many ways) museo to visit.

If you remember, we had passed this museo during the bike ride day one. I decided to push open the shiney, guarded doors and visit. Again, AudioGuide recommended!
This is an extremely well done museo housed in an amazing venue.

They only allowed photos in a couple of spots. But I loved the entire exhibit. It of course revolves around the life and legendary artistry of Salvatore Ferragamo; from childhood to signature pieces (like the Rainbow Wedge created for Judy Garland) to how he has inspired others.
There are several installations by other artists the theme being “Shoes and Fairytales”…pretty magical!
In the last of the 8 or so rooms, there is a viewing of the short film, WhiteShoe by Ferragamo, based on Salvatore’s life.
I would really put visiting this museo at the top of any list.

20130717-121101.jpg New wallet for Dalton…check…
Let me take another opportunity to say that even though speaking Italian is out of my ability range, attempting to speak it during this trip has been met every time with appreciation and kindness. While buying Dalton’s wallet, Fabio (un altro!) loved it when I would try something. He even wrote down a couple of verbs that would help me know more…
I think Americans coming over, expecting everyone to speak our language has given us a bad rep. (He also harped on McDonald’s…)

As evening begins, I clean up and contemplate my very last evening here….this trip…
At the suggestion of several, I take a little brown bus to Fiesole, FEE-e-sol-E to catch a view of Firenze from the other side. Again, another amazing vista.


Then before the colors fade entirely, I make it to the other side of town, returning to Piazzale Michelangelo. This time, I find a spot not in the center of the Piazzale, but on one of the bench lined paths. Although there are still admirers…they seem mostly local. I think I am the only one with my camera out.

For this last sunset,while being serenaded by the cicada, I even enjoy a few sips of Champagne…from the bottle no less, sold by vendors in the piazzale.
Before I share this, you know I thought the last sunset from here was amazing….I took a bazillion photos of it. When I returned to the room and to view the photos, I was overwhelmed…I could not decide which was when, which was best, etc. It became more about the photographs than the moment.

This evening I decided to enjoy through my eyes and heart, instead of the lens.
However, overcome by the colors after the sun had set and transported by the layers of pink in the sky, I broke down and took 2 photos…only 2.

Che Bello!! no!?


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