Paths Less Taken

I make countless loops around the historic  center of Firenze each day. Often I leave the apartment on a specific errand and find myself totally off track due to an interesting turn I’ve taken. 

For example…you gotta follow a guy with a cloud of white balloons!


This bella città has so much more to offer than what hits the average tourist’s occhio. Let me share some of the lesser known treasures. 

Sant’ Ambrogio Market

Located off Piazza Lorenzo Ghiberti you’ll find a smaller, less hectic and possibly a bit more authentic market than San Lorenzo. 

Very few tourist roam through the stalls. Locals are engaged in debates. Produce is colorful and healthy. The variety, broad. 

Indoors. You’ll find your pane e carne. 


I chose some “figlio” sized sciacciatta. When I pointed to the small rounds asking if it were also sciacciatta, the baker said “Si…theeesa eeesa the Momma (holding up the larger, more familiar looking pane) and-a theeesssaa (holding up the smaller in question) eeesssaa the figlio…the son-a.”  I said I would take tre, due sale e una pomodori.  1.5€! I noticed when he was bagging it, he glanced down into the bag and shrugged his shoulders. As I walked off, opening the bag, I noticed there were cinque figli. 


Outside you can find pretty much any thing you might need; fruit, cooked maiale, shirts, pants, plants, fiori, artisan watermelons and toilet paper. 

Not much English heard here. Infatti, I had a completely Italian conversation with a woman about my nuovi pantaloni I was wearing. She walked up to me intent on something. I told her, “Mi dispiace, non parlo molto bene italiano.”  This did not discourage her, so….I did my best. I walked away tickled. Not only did this older Italian donna find my pantaloni “molto elegante, molto chic”…but I was able to communicate where I got them, when I bought them and how little I paid for them. Brava on all counts!

Across the via I spot another market. This one looks like it is either being set up or taken down, but I venture over. 

What fun it is rummaging around through others’ cast offs. Someday I’ll have to return with an empty case filling it to the brim with pre-owned treasures. 

A bookstore…of sorts. 

I ask a man outside if it is his shop. He answers in a yes…kinda sorta way, damn the family business way. I ask him if he has a copy of The Great Gatsby. At first he says no but them walks in and begins restacking a stack, saying “I seem-a to remember”. 


Vittoria!!! Avery collects copies of this classic and I am thrilled when I get to add to the collection. This one even has a different cover. I’m so happy, saying “yay!” several times. The reluctant owner continues to look at me in a nonplus way. I push, asking if he might have a business card I can attach to the inside. Again, “No…”, then starts digging. The excavation is successful, but he says, “Eeetttaaa eesssa only written by-a hand-a”. 

“Yay!”…anche meglio. 

I weave my way towards the Arno furthering my exploration. 

This work of art made me laugh…around here, you toss your vecchio mattress and someone will use it as a canvas. How cool this would be hanging somewhere (after fumigation of course), alas it will probably end up at the dump along with countless other works of art. 

In Firenze, art is everywhere. I encourage looking in unexpected places. 


I cross the Arno bridges away from the congestion of tourist. 

Oltrarno is a quarter of Firenze south of the Arno. To many Florentines, it is the best and most authentic area. I accidentally work myself up to Piazzale Michelangelo. In the heat of midday, there are much fewer tourist. No doubt sunset is special, but the view from here is a head shaker no matter the time of day. 

On the South side I revisit Clet Abraham’s studio purchasing a print I’ve admired as well as a couple of the spilled wine stickers. I’ve been here 4 times and have yet to be fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of the artist, but I love snooping around the studio.  The print I purchased is similar to what you see on the wall there…the duomo turning into a moka, then a Vespa. 

Clet’s is not the only studio I snoop in.  Oltarno you will find workshops and studios with the doors open, artisans at work, saying “prego,prego” as you peek in. 

This lighting shop was magical.

And these fiori!

I enjoyed a bicchiere di vino bianco at popular enoteca, before continuing my roam. 

Further south I find myself at Porta Romana. This is part of the ancient walls of Firenze dating back to the 14th century. 

And I had to touch it, certo!

Near the gates I see remnants of Roma…


Deep in a true neighborhood you see such sweet things,

Neighbors caring for neighbors…who are they making such effort to bring the flowers to?

In the back of this trattoria, the kitchen staff eats together before sharing their talents with others. 

And the true pride for their city…not to get tourist to buy in. 

Before going back to my room, I have a little pick me up…Tiramisu. This time it is actually mine. Although I do like this Italian dolce, it tends to be a bit rich for me…but I’m enjoying this for my Dad.  Ahhh, the things we do for love…


On my walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo, I picked up a flyer promoting a concert. I decide to purchase the cheapest ticket and attend this evening. 

I return to the room, clean up and rest a bit. Then I’m off to the concerto. 

My ticket was 25€. The next section up was 35€, and the front section 50€. Being early, I get the front row of the cheap seats. In front of me, only 7 rows, sit the big spenders. 

At first I was not sure about video etiquette so that’s why you see my dress, but later see it is ok.  None of the picture quality is good but I must try to transport you the way I was. ​

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​I was in constant awe that ten instruments played by mere mortals could produce such exquisite sounds. 

After the final “Brava!” was shouted, I returned to my via (the brown doors are mine) and ended my day in the perfetto Italian way…  

Con pasta!

3 thoughts on “Paths Less Taken

  1. Thanks for the concert. Nothing is more moving than listening to the music while being in Florence. Brings tears to my eyes. I feel like I am there. You comments and photos are so
    enjoyable and entertaining.

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