Cena con Gli Amici


Tip of the Day-

When in Firenze…Never Cry Over Spilled Wine…there’s always more to be found.

I am sure you are familiar with Clet Abraham’s manipulation of street signs.  This was a new one to me.

Again..A slow start to the day after spending the morning documenting the previous day.  I am learning this rhythm is not so bad…I miss much of the morning heat, head out, and am ready for lunch…the meal of the day.

Again, today, no agenda.  I just enjoy roaming about.  It is fun (and more relaxing) to imagine I live here…let’s say I am a writer for a living…or better yet, am independently comfortable…and I just go where the Firenze breeze (thank goodness for it) blows me.

Today, I actually started out looking for a place I like that has this wonderful, sugar coated, donut of sorts…couldn’t find it (even though I passed it last night) and decided it was more like lunch time.

My usual “go-to” panino shop is just down the block a bit, but after hearing a few locals kinda dis it, saying they cannot keep up the quality with all they serve, I decide to go to La Prosciutteria.  Looking back at 2015 posts, we will see this is the first place I met Elisa and Paola.


I choose schiacciata (and yes…I stumbled over saying it), prosciutto, crema di ricotta and pomodoro freschi.  The only reason the lettuce is on there is because I thought the girl was calling me “lady”…but she was really saying “lettuce?”…See, the language issue goes both ways.

It was buono, but…now don’t think I am all uppity here… the prosciutto was shaved a bit thick.  She adjusted the slicer right before me and I wondered about it…I have now tried La Proscuitteria for panino and will return…to judge…cuz’ it’s been due anni, All’Antico Vinaio.


Roaming brought me in front of the Salvatore Ferragamo store.  Although I have never purchased anything there except for a few post cards and a mouse pad…I am a patron of his wonderfully curated Museo.  Each year I visit, it is a highlight.  This year’s exhibition marks the 90th anniversary of Salvatore’s return to Italy from America.  The entire Museo gives the feel of boarding a luxury liner as you sail with Salvatore.


Around 18:00, I return to the appartamento to consider my plan for visiting Elisa and her famiglia.  Elisa was the girl I found through the Florentine in 2015.  I have many very special memories including her, her family and friends.  I know memories like that cannot be duplicated, but we’ve planned to see each other for an evening.

When I look at the address Elisa shared with me, at first I think, no problem.  Then, as the time draws nearer, I look closer and it is about 3 miles away.  I do not mind walking there, but returning late at night…makes me uncomfortable.  I share my concerns with Elisa and she shares the bus schedule with me.


Seems easy enough, right?  I decide to give it a go, but of course, head out super early.  I am expected at the office of Elisa’s mother at 8:30 pm.  I head to the train/bus station at about 7:00.

Elisa instructions said Santa Maria Novella Station.  When I get there, I look at the bus schedules but do not see 1A.  The next bus that pulls up, I put one foot in and ask, “Dove bus uno – ah?”  Pointing is good and all when you’re talking feet…with no obstructions, but as I mentioned earlier, the stazione is under construction…so I head in the vancinity of the point.

So now I am across the street from SMN stazione…bus pulls up, I put one foot in, “Dove bus uno–ah?”  Again, I follow the point around the corner on Via Nazionale.  Bus pulls up, this time I show him the address I am wanting.  God bless him…he give me sign language for “Una- Ah” (One finger, two fingers making a triangle) as he says, “U-N-A…A-aa-H-hhh.”  like I am…impaired…which I guess I am.

Next Una-Ahh (1A) bus that pulls up…I get in…only to be asked off.  “Nessus biglietto.”  Ok…”Dove biglietto?!”

Why oh Why do I make it so hard?


With my 1.20 euro biglietto in hand…I wait with all the other bus riders, moving to dodge the fumo di sigaretta as much as I can without appearing rude.

Bus Una-Ah  arrives, I show the address I am wanting to go to on my phone to the driver as she exits the bus to…you guessed it, fumo.  I ask her, “Will I know Che si fermano?” She glares at me through the fumo and says, “Si.”

As I enter the bus, I jockey for a position that allows me quick contact with my driver amica, but also a clear view of what the stops are.

As we drive, I am ticking off the stops Elisa shared with me.  All seems to be going as planned…until it isn’t.

If you refer to your scheduled stops, you will notice that after Modanna Della Querce comes Caracciolo…but it didn’t.  The next stop was Maffei.  Let me tell you, I was not the only bus rider concerned.  The entire group started hurling…Italian words…at my amica the bus driver.  I turned around to look at the Filipino/Italian woman behind me, and she just rants and shakes her head…I nod like, “I know…I’m with you!” But infatti, I am confused as all getout and a bit concerned.  At the next unscheduled stop, Boccaccio, EVERYONE exits.  EVERYONE but me.  I just sit there, bus idling while I look around…unsure of how to proceed.

My bus driving amica exits the bus, lights up, picks some tabacco from her tongue and motions for me to see her.

She once again asks to see the address I am attempting to find.  She looks for a bit…looks around the area and then says through the Fumo, “theesa eeessa bus-a uno-b.”   I say, “No, no it isn’t…it’s bus una-ah”.  She doesn’t speak but points up to the digital readout above the bus window…sure enough…it says 1B.  A bit frantic now, I tell her, “But it said Una-Ah when I got on.”  She said with a straight face, “Eettta Changed-a”.

I am fortunate enough that she showed me the way to find the path I wanted…over a small bridge, through some trees…

At this point I know I do look disabled because I cannot quit audibly saying “Eetta Changed-a” as I laugh and walk away.


Moral of THIS story…I’m paying for a taxi on the way home.


Over the footbridge and through the trees, I do indeed find the via I am searching for.  I find Mara’a ufficio building, ring, and am let in.

Although this is where Mara works, it was originally the home she grew up in, hence the kitchen and all.

It was wonderful to see Mara.  She looks the same as she did two years ago.  Elisa has matured over the time and Angela is now pregnant.


We enjoy a light meal all’aperto as we talk about what is going on in our lives.


Simple meal, simple conversation, simply lovely evening.


As darkness falls, I’ll admit, I get a bit nervous about my trek home.  I am being very clear that taking the bus home, which Elisa recommends, is not going to happen.  She tells me this is a very safe neighborhood.  I share that safe or not, I have no clue to where I am.  So Elisa calls a taxi for me.  We say our arrivederci’s and share well wishes and in no time, my cab is here.

I am not thrilled about spending how ever many euros this taxi is going to cost, but as we speed through neighborhood after neighborhood, I tell myself it is money well spent.  I had told the driver my destination was Piazza Santa Trinita, this would allow me a short stroll over the Arno to my appartamento.  I began to recognize the area when the cab came to an abrupt stop and the driver fussed about a small crowd blocking the street.  I told him that this would be fine for my stop.  I paid my 17.5 euro (ouch!) and hopped out.

I was greeted with a serendipitous end to my evening.

Dolce musica, dolce sogni…



Weekend In Firenze

Each morning now starts with my Moka and me.  I am so happy with my 15 euro purchase!  Have I mentioned that July is SALDI/SALE month in Italia.  I’ve been told their sales are regulated and July is the time to stock up on summer clothes and house items.  So…when in Roma…or in this case Firenze!imageI spent the morning in the shared kitchen of Bencidormi.  While there, I struck up a conversation with a mom and her older kids heading to Roma.  She was a bit gloomy due to a transportation issue yesterday.  They had neglected to validate their city bus tickets and were fined 100 euro!  This just gave me a pit in my stomach, I hated it for her and know that it could be me at any point in time. She said that she felt taken.  The “officer” demanded she give him the 100 euro right then and there.  She plead her case saying it was an honest mistake, they had the tickets, they just didn’t know to validate.  She also told him she did not have that much money on her.  He said he must accompany her to a cash machine, which he did and she gave in to his demands.  Later they read the ticket a bit more and it states a person has 30 days (I believe) to pay the fine.  I told her I had just last night read a post explaining the term “Furbo” or crafty and how some Italians take advantage of visitors this way.  She was having a difficult time shaking it off and I do not blame her.  It is a hard, expensive lesson we can all learn from.  I wished them better luck with the rest of their trip and began my day.

Today is the 4th of July, so I dressed to give a nod to my Homeland and hit the streets.imageI do not have much of an agenda these last few days.  I just want to enjoy where I am and take advantage of the inexpensive and or free things Firenze has to offer,

Like…street art,imageand hole in the wall local places where  you can get a panino and a birra for 5 euro.  The first time I came here in 2013, I was so nervous to order.  But this being my 3rd (and final) time this trip, I am very comfortable giving a little more thought to my orders.  imageAs you can tell, I love this place and it is an absolute MUST for anyone during a visit, no matter how short, to Firenze.  Remember, there are 3 places now with the same name- All’Antinco Vinaio.  For some reason, the one on the right side (with the Uffizi behind you) is always really crowded.  The one directly across on the left, is crowded as well, but people tend to veer right.  Today, as I was walking into the one on the left, a guy working on the right said, “OK-a people-a…pay-a attention-a.  We-a have-a two-a shops-a.  The same-a people-a own-a…same ingredients-a.  There-a eeessa not-a as much-a line-a over there-a.  People-a….pay-a attention-a!”

Luckily I had claimed my spot in line before people looked around trying to decide what to do.  Today I chose, prosciutto, basilico, marinated carciofi and  my new friend stracchino cheese.  The soft, creamy texture of this young, cow’s milk cheese keeps everything in place.  imageAs I was enjoying/wrestling with my panino, the boss man comes by and asks me something.  (I know he is the boss man because it says BOSS MAN on the back on his t-shirt.)  I could not understand what he was asking me, and as I was trying to throw out a couple of guesses, he simply took my panino, went back behind the counter, rewrapped it and presented it to me again saying, “Thheeeesssaa way-a eeessaaa best-a.”  Point taken.

It also cracks me up that you do not pay until after you have eaten, and then you must flag someone down and wait for them to meet you at a little register…basically an honor system.

I love theeesssaaa place-a!

And I am not alone.imageAfter my 4th of July hotdog stand-in, I just roamed.  I have passed by Palazzo Vecchio and through Piazza della Signoria many times during this trip, but this time I took the time to visit with the statues in and around Loggia dei Lanzi.  It is mind boggling to me that these priceless pieces are just out in the open: The Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna.  Here the term “rape” comes from the Latin raptio, which means “abduction”.  This depicts when the first generation of Roman men acquired wives for themselves from the neighboring Sabine families.

Theseus and the Minotaur and Perseo holding Medusa’s Head by Cellini (1554).  The story is in the whole, but the beauty to me, is in the details.imageI never tire of seeing what the street artist in front of Zara are up to.imageAnd although I did not get a photo of them (and I regret it), a highlight was seeing a family of 5 all sporting captain’s hats with Venezia in script across the front.  Don’t know why, but this just made me laugh.

I timed my roam to be oltrarno in time to attend mass at Santa Felicita.  This is probably the oldest chiesa in Florence after San Lorenzo.  Churches have stood on this site since the 4th century.  A new one was built in the 11th century with additions and changes coming over the years.  In 2013, I peered into the church through a window along the Vasari Corridor.  The Medici family used to do the same, attending mass without the masses.  In 1565 Grand Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici “requested” that a corridor be built connecting the old palace with their new residence, the Pitti Palace.  Since the corridor passes through Santa Felicita, the church began to play a very important role with the Medici court.

The Deposition from the Cross (1528) by the Italian Renaissance painter Jacopo Pontormo is a piece we discuss in Art II during our study of Mannerism.  The painting is located above the altar in a small chapel in the back of Santa Felicita.  I was not aware this was its home when I chose where to attend mass.  It is very surreal to look up and see a piece in person that you’ve only seen in slides.image

Yesterday (I think it was yesterday) when I purchased my Sunday evening ticket to the Medici Dynasty Show, I also saw a flyer for a movie about Dante.  I “know” roughly 3 things about Dante, but staying in his city for so long and seeing him honored everywhere, I thought, what a better time to learn a bit more.  However, I did not buy a ticket because originally I was to meet Elisa and Costanza tonight.  That “Girl’s Night Out” fell through so I found myself free after mass.  I could not remember exactly what time the movie began or exactly where the theater was.  I did remember that you received a glass of wine with your ticket and that the little guy at the “Tourist Point” had waved his hand behind him and told me some number attached to the word “meters” when I asked about the location of the theater.  So, I decided to go back to the “Tourist Point” which I found closed, but walked in the direction of his hand wave and there it was, the Odeon Teatro.  image           Housed in Palazzo Strozzino, built in 1462, the theater opened in 1922.  To this day the Odeon retains the original sculptures, tapestries and its wonderful stained glass cupola.image

The film The Mystery of Dante, was artsy and strange.  It made me think and want to know a bit more.  Dante was a poet who has inspired some of the most outstanding minds in history and what I took away from the film was that his work is not to be globally understood, but that each individual needs to journey through it, drawing their own conclusions about his words, applying it to our own lives.  Maybe I’m completely wrong, but I came away with: there are individual translations and applications and that is what Dante intended.

A single line that did resonate with me was, and I am paraphrasing I’m sure, “Hell is a huge cabinet of reflection.”  Personally, I cannot imagine anything worse than having to watch our mistakes and poor decisions on a never-ending film loop for all eternity.

Cheers to living the straight and narrow!imageAfter my evening at the cinema, I walked to Il Mercato Centrale, ordered a Margherita Pizza asporto (to go),imagewalked back to my room,imageand enjoyed it there.imageSunday morning I again enjoyed some time writing in the cucina at Bencidormi.  Today I met 2 gals from Ireland.  They had just hit town and were checking in for one night only.  I overheard them asking Paola what the best way to see the most of Florence in one day was.  Being my Father’s child, I chimed in.  I poked my head around the corner and raised my hand.  My suggestion was for them to go on a guided bike ride like I did in 2013.  This 2 hourish ride gave me a great overview and allowed me to get my bearings.  Brid quickly replied in her oh so cute accent, “Oh yeah, but you’re fit Paige.”  I assured them it was a flat, easy ride.  In the end I think they went for the hop on hop off bus.  I really wanted to ask if I could join them for their tours today and help them get the most out of a day in Florence…but I didn’t go that far.  I helped them make a plan for hitting Venice tomorrow and our paths didn’t cross again.

Afterwards Paola and I talked a bit about the fun (and not so fun, she assured me) aspects of running a small B like this.  Meeting and helping people make the most of their visits would be rewarding I think.

On to my day.  In 2013 I visited the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo.  The exhibit then was all about the rise of Salvatore.  It was beautifully done and a first class experience.  This year I was told the exhibit had changed and highlighted the building, Palazzo Spini Feroni, that housed the famed House of Ferragamo.  imageimageAfter a quick early lunch and dolce (THE BEST cannoli I’ve ever had!  I wished for my brother Jim, who favors this treat.)  I headed over to see my old neighbor Salvatore.  The exhibit was again, top notch and because it is the first Sunday of the month…entry was FREE!

In the end I could not bring myself to spend roughly 100 euro for the least expensive Ferragamo perfume, but I did buy 4 postcards depicting some of his most famous creations and a mouse pad.  Walking around with a red and gold Ferragamo bag, no matter how little was inside, gave me a spring in my step.imageIn the early evening, I headed for a little bar at the far end of my street, Via Faenza.  The name of this hot spot is “Freddy’s” and there are ALWAYS people spilling into the streets enjoying a spritz and conversation.  I cannot tell you the number of times I have passed and eyed this place during my visits.  Today I was lucky enough to find one table free for me!  image

During my spritz, I too got to enjoy a bit of conversation with a woman from Denmark.  She and a group were here taking a health course of some sort in Fiesole.  She said she had been here for almost 2 weeks and was ready to leave and probably not return.  She did not say this with disgust or anger…I asked what city she liked better and she said, “Paris” with no hesitation.  She expressed she felt in Paris the way I feel here.  During this trip I have come to the realization that it is OK…if not great… for people not to like the city you love.  People enjoy and are comfortable with different things and experiences.  I no longer feel I have to either sell someone on my view or worse…reexamine my own thinking there is fault in it.  Now I just need to translate this thinking to all other aspects of my life.

Next on the agenda is to head to the San Lorenzo area.  The play I am attending is performed in the San Giovannino dei Padri Scolopi Library in Piazza di San Lorenzo.  It is part of an architectural complex dating back to 1351 and is in the triangle where the Medici family lived.

Our story begins here…image

What a wonderful, albeit HOT, experience that was.  The story is shared by the last two heirs of the Medici Dynasty, Grand Duke Gian Gastone and his sister, Anna Maria Luisa.  Viewers travel back in time to Palazzo Pitti in 1737, shortly before the Grand Duke’s death.  The show culminates as Anna Maria Luisa initiates a treaty with the Lorena family, who were to take over Florence after the Grand Duke’s death, stating the artistic patrimony of the Medici family would remain the property of Florence, “as an ornament of the State, to be used by the public and to attract foreign visitors”.

The two actor play is presented in a very intimate setting allowing viewers to understand this point in history as well as the priceless gifts the Medici family gave to the world.  I highly recommend this show…just bring a hand fan with you.

As I was approaching the Arno, I got a glimpse of the pink sky out of the corner of my eye and then quickened my pace to the center of Ponte Vecchio.  Again, I did not plan to be here at sunset, but here I am.  Timeless no?imageAs I was heading to Piazza Santo Spirito for dinner, I decided one bridge in sunset was not enough, so I quickly walked to Ponte Santa Trinita to get another breathtaking view.  imageHeart full but stomach empty, I was hoping to get a table at Osteria Santo Spirito.  This was the spot the Australian couple had recommended to them by friends.  I had peeked in the last day of the first part of my trip and vowed to return.

When I approached, it was already bustling with people.  I thought perhaps arriving a few minutes before the people who watched the sun totally set might be a good idea….I’m not the only one with good ideas.  I walked in the doorway and asked for a tavolo per uno.  I was told there would be a table inside in about 20 minutes.  “Great!”, I said thankful, but then asked, “Nothing available outside?”  I was told it would be at least an hour.  I said inside was good.  But then, moments later, they guy came back by saying he could have one outside in 5.  Even better.  Then for the next 10 minutes or so I did my subtle little dance hovering, looking hopeful to remind, but trying to be cool as well.  I am probably not that good at it, but it has been working.  And it worked again tonight.  As couples and groups were turned away to wait for more than an hour for inside or out, I was seated at a corner table facing across the tables and out to the piazza…Power Table!imageThe gnocchi Gratinati al Formaggi Tartufo had caught my eye on the menu, but when I saw and smelled it pass…I knew it was for me.  This is the piccolo plate.imageWith every bite, I wished for Avery and Dalton and almost felt disloyal enjoying something I knew they would love.imageI ate slowly enjoying the food and the atmosphere.  A few meters (wink, wink) away, yet another outdoor concert was gearing up.  By the time I left, it still hadn’t started (after 22:00) but the sound checks were commanding the night.imageAfter such a wonderful, but filling meal, I was very thankful for my mile and a half walk back to my room.

Tomorrow will be my last day in Firenze and Italia, I needed to plan my day and my exit.


Giorni di Pioggia e il Luned

The Carpenters sang “Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.”  For me, summer Mondays are as good as any other day and as far as rainy days go, I’m more in the Eddie Rabbit camp (I’m sure I lost of few of you there with that reference).  Looking out my window, I once again see  light rain.  I have learned to pack my piccolo ombrello when heading out.

As I head out my porta and down my strada, I notice these scarpe in the Ferragamo finestra and go in to investigate.  I’m nervous entering these oh so posh stores.  When a well dressed man has to open the door to allow me to entrare, that is a sure sign I should not.  But, as I said,  these shoes, adorned with paint, caught my occhio.imageSalvatore Ferragamo designed only one style of shoe for men in his lifetime, and you’re looking at them. Andy Warhol owned a pair and naturally, he painted in them.  In 2006, the Ferragamo family bought those paint-specked Warhol shoes at an auction and now create copies available for purchase.  I am LOVING them.  Perhaps this Halloween I’ll dress as Warhol (last year I was van Gogh, Salvador Dali and Frida the years before).  I assure you my scarpe will not be Ferragamo.imageNow these replicas of The Rainbow Sandal created for Judy Garland, I CAN afford.  The upside is I only have to buy one.  It is probably the only Ferragamo I will ever own.

With the weather threatening, I stay close to my neighborhood, but cross the ponte.  As I do, I see this happy guy painting away.  He has his bicicletta set up as an easel and is using a LP record as a palette.  You KNOW we will be doing this in studio602!  I stood and watched him for a moment.  You get different reactions from different “artist”.  This guy…welcoming as can be.  I don’t even think he expected me to buy something.  I admired a cute, silly little painting (he uses a palette knife) of a church and graveyard.  He had attached a clear piece of plastic in the shape of a ghost.  When I commented on it, he smiled and said, “Eeettaaa eeeesssa justa for funnnaaa. oooooooo-a”.  His ghost sound cracked me up!  imageimage


I know…I’ve got my bridge upside down…

I chose a painted rock with Ponte Vecchio on it…seemed fitting as that most famous ponte was in our sight, the next bridge over.  His “studio” was on Ponte Santa Trinita.  This original work of art cost 1 euro!!!  AND he threw in the ghost painting as a “geeefttaaa”.  I bought 2 more rocks after that.  You would have thought he just pocketed hundreds of dollars.  He was so very tickled.  From halfway across the bridge, he was still telling me to have a bella giornata!  He had just made it that.imageAfter my big purchase I head to the Santo Spirito area.  I had understood there was a market near but could not find it.  I checked out the menus at the trattoria’s framing the piazza.  Tortelli Mugellani (the recipe Anna shared with us…certo!) sounds great, but of course they are not serving now…Well, there is a restaurant on my strada that I have wanted to try…no go either.  Most restaurants…good ones at least, serve lunch and dinner only.  Aperitivo in between, but I am hungry.  With the rain really coming down now, I get a spring in my step when I remember I still have the schiacciata I bought with Costanza.  Perfetto.  and I have left over chips AND left over wine from a bottle I bought at La Volpe e l’Uva.  I turn back around and head for home (all of 10 steps). imageimageimage

Paola and I are to meet at 5:00 in front of the Dante statue at Santa Croce.  This is very near her appartamento.  The great news here is Paola (with Elisa’s help) has agreed to allow me to leave a small bag of…stuff…with her until I return.  I’m not sure how I’ve collected what I have in only 9 days, but this is such a luxury.  When I return, I can sort through and decide what I really want to lug home.

Before leaving for Italy, Paola and I had communicated once.  Our original plan was to meet together in the morning, visit a market, cook lunch, tour a rose garden and then enjoy dinner together as well. However, the rain has changed our plans quite a bit.  At this point we are only meeting for a brief visit.  During lunch she texts me advising  how to call a cab due to the rain.  I tell her I will walk anyway- I will not melt.  Not sure how that translates.  I walk over in quite a downpour, but I love the sound of Italian thunder.  During the walk she has texted me again.  This time giving me the exact address of her appartamento.  She wishes for me to come there so she does not melt.  Negotiating the streets of Italy is molto tricky.  When I reach Dante’s statue, I ask a shop owner standing outside (they ALL stand outside) where I might find Via San Giuseppe.  He says, “I-a weeelll-a show-a you”.  Along our 4 step journey, he adds, “Howww-aa did-a you-a get-a so lucky to have-a found-a me-aa?”  Then he point up and says, “We have-a arrived-a.”  Moral of the story is the street names change at any given point.  Like I said, molto tricky.

The rain has ceased now and Paola comes down to greet me.  Kiss/Kiss.  Oh and by the way, this is Paola1.  We walk up a narrow corridor with many steps.  On the way, she stops every once in awhile to tell me something.  She has lived here for several years.  I think she mentioned she does a four year lease.  She is a bit concerned about what will happened at the end of this current lease.  Her landlady is 97 years old.  Paola’s appartamento is the tiniest one I have visited yet.

Leaning out Paola's living/office/bedroom gives a view of Santa Croce.

Leaning out Paola’s living/office/bedroom gives a view of Santa Croce.

I think we are in the whole of it when she walks back down a couple of narrow steps (I can’t even explain this well.  I felt like I was in a storybook) opens another little door, and we enter her separate, piccolo, piccolo cucina.imageTalk about tidy, organized and cute!  This girl knows how to get the most out of her space.  On the sill she has a little herb garden and inside she uses fruit boxes as shelves.  How clever! (Finger to eye here!)image

We sit and talk a bit enjoying succo di mela e biscotti.imageWe then go on a short walk where Paola shares some of her favorite spots.  The first was the same cafe bar where Constanza brought me to.  It does have a spectacular view of the Duomo’s dome through its large glass finestra.

Our next stop was a very nice grocery.  Paola says she visits when she needs a specialty item.  She bought a bit of prosciutto while here.imageWe parted ways after she showed me this fabulous art supply store.  Paola is not sure if she will be in Florence when I return, but I know we will stay in touch.  What a gentle soul she is.  Kiss/Kiss, Ciao, Ciao!!image

I walk around this amazing story trying not to get too invested.  There are so many things I would like to bring back home.  When I return in July, I will definitely come back to grab some of these palette knives.  I want to use them as cheese knives. (Finger to eye again.)imageWalking back to my appartamento the skies have cleared and the air is cool and crisp.

I have passed this finestra several times and each time I admire that polka dot dress.  This time I decide to go in and try it on.  I walk out with a new Florentine dress that I cannot wait to wear.image

It is aperitivo time, so I grab my book (a prop at this point) and head back over to Santo Spirito.  As I am crossing Ponte Santa Trinita, I look over at Ponte Vecchio and am struck by the amazing light.  People just walk past as I capture the bridge in its golden hour….Again, Living Right!

In the photography portion of Art III, I have students take multiple images of an object, person, place or event and then create a montage work of art from the multi images.  I took multi images of this scene to create one myself.image

When I arrived at the piazza, it was already quite full of people and their spritzs.  I hovered near a prime table as the waiter cleared it.  Instead of choosing the restaurant I had eyed earlier, I chose Tamero Pasta Bar soley because I liked their thrown together look.  Again, good choice Paige!image

I start, as one should start in Florence with an Aperol Spritz.  The waiter looks at his watch when I order.  I noticed people coming out with plates of Happy Hour looking food and I think they were getting ready to stop that service.  Not to worry.  I wasn’t sure how I would hold my table, watch my borsa AND carry a plate of food out.  So I just order from the menu.imageSitting out under the trees, listening to conversations, smelling cigarette smoke (ok not so much that part), watching people, feeling the welcome breeze…I am molto felice.  I mentioned this last time that it would be wonderful to be sitting with a loved one right now, the evenings are always that way, but would they have enjoyed the day?imageOn this summer evening, I chose Panzanella and this year’s favorite, Prosciutto e Papai.  Heaven!!

As with most evening dining experiences in Italia, they do not rush you off.  The table is yours for as long as you would like.  I decide I will stay until they light the candle on my table.  When I do leave, I first go inside to check out the interior.  This is a hip, gritty place.  The kind I’m sure get rock’n as the night gets later.image

When I get ready to exit, I pass the kitchen area.  I LOVE the way they have their meats displayed.  A guy is working with the prosciutto when I walk by and I ask if I may take a photo.  “aahh…si, si…un momento.”  And he proceeds to stop what he is doing, replace the prosciutto and turn the other meats to their most photogenic side.  Grazie!imageAlthough I am leaving the piazza, most are just arriving.  Sitting around the fountain or the steps of Santo Spirito makes for a classic Italian notte.imageimageimageCrossing back over Ponte Santa Trinita, I catch Ponte alle Grazie in sunset.

On my last trip, there was the photograph I took of the 3 boys and their dad in the waters of Monterosso.  It is a photo I would have loved to share with them.  I feel the same way about this one.  Snagging one of the points off the side of the ponte seems to be the thing to do in Florence.  What a date night!imageArriving on my strada, there are signs Fashion Week will be in full swing tomorrow.image   I am sorry I could not get these guys from the front. Although most Italian men do not wear shorts, especially during the evenings, the guy to the left is an exception.  Notice his short sleeve blazer, fitted perfectly over his bare chest.  As I said, at 11:00, the night has just begun.  imageHaving salad and fruit for dinner (work with me) allows me to enjoy dessert…Edoardo’s again!!??  Perche no?image

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!?