Florence – Day 1
On this trip, our travel focus is a tad different. We opted to fly from Barcelona to Florence rather than take the train. Our last train trip experience, in the south of France was, to say the least an adventure. If we were younger, I would say … why not do the unexpected adventures – but now we won’t go over the edge with Gerda’s condition. Living life to the full …. yes, living life to the foolish … no.
So the trip from the hotel to the Barcelona airport was faster going out than coming in, although we nearly had an accident where a luxurious car almost hit us ….. must have thought he had the right-of-way. Ironically the drivers seem more polite, if you signal, they let you in to their lane. We were to the airport 3 hours before boarding ….. Gerda had visions we would miss the flight, so insisted we get there early ……. well she can’t catch a break going through the airports on this trip …. three entry points (Regina, Toronto and Barcelona) and on each one she has been pulled aside for a full security check. The irony is Brian has only had one full check in 5 years, while for Gerda it’s been the majority of her trips in the past 3 years she has been pulled to have the full check! Unfortunately, all she can do is smile and bear it.
They post the gate number 50 minutes before boarding, so we saunter down to the gate and suddenly realize they are actually processing passengers to board. So through the gate, down the stairs ……. and board a bus to wait for 10 minutes. When we finally get to the plane, Gerda is seated in 9A and I in 19F. The plane is 40 minutes late leaving, not sure why, but they have 4-5 different ground crew and supervisors in & out of the cockpit.
The flight only takes 1 hour & 10 minutes – we spent almost as much time waiting for the plane to board and taxi ….. three times as much in the airport, but in the end the passengers cheer and clap when we finally land. Probably had something to do with the rough ride and the sudden drop of 100 meters when we reached the Italian coast!
The flight adventure didn’t end there, we waited 30 minutes at the baggage carousel, before they advised we were at the wrong one ….. jeeesh!
Fortunately the rest of the day went well. Checked in to the Hotel Tornabuoni Beacci to an upgrade … surprise. Nice when that happens. Went for a stroll to both the old familiar and the new, sometimes right beside each other.
She found such a place called “Trattoria”, roughly two block outside our tramping grounds from 2015. As soon as the server greeted her, she said “I like this place, we’ll have fun!” ….. and we did. The food was good, service great and friendly. She had a type of spaghetti while I had fried chicken, mushrooms and zucchini flowers (yes, everything fried) …. make sure you check what they mean when they say fried – this had a thick layer of batter covering everything! While it was good, it certainly was not what I had expected. Had I known, would have ordered the grilled version.
Unfortunately, we are not great meat eaters, ’cause we could have had these incredible looking steaks either 1 or 1.5 kg (2 – 3 pounds) of meat. We did get to watch several groups try to finish them. Entertaining to say the least.
Interesting end to the day. Tomorrow is tour day ….
Florence – Day 2
After a quick breakfast …. off to the Pitti Palace for a tour of the site and the Boboli gardens. We catchup to our tour guide Serena at 10am in front of the palace. Just us and her for an intimate tour.
An amazing amount of knowledge to share ….. well worth the expense. It turns out she is an architectural restorer and happens to know Amil, our guide for Familia Sagrada in Barcelona! What a coincidence …. talk about 6 degrees of separation. The tour starts outside the palace, moving into the courtyard and then into the upper levels of the palace. What a treasure trove of art all owned by one family. It could very easily be a museum on it’s own.
Serena (our guide) had many interesting stories about the art, history and culture of the city and Medici family who owned the palace.
There are so many pictures we took, I won’t bore the readers of this blog; however, two stand out for me, one as a major part of the Florentine history and the other as contempturay humor about art.
The first was the story of a statue of Venus created for the Medici that was plundered by Napoleon. Because there was a potential for an uprising over the statue and as appeasement Napoleon commissioned another statue to be created. Over time the people of Florence came to like it better. When Napoleon was defeated, they got the original back and now have two. The original is in a museum with the original statue of David, while the preferred copy is in the Pitti Palace.
The second humorous display was near the end of our tour of the art …… I asked if our grandson, Taylan, had been here ……. a picture is worth a thousand words! Who said that art historians don’t have a sense of humor?
The tour of the attached Boboli Gardens was very impressive and also very hot in the sun. We looked for shade every time we stopped. After the tour, which lasted 2.5 hours, Serena walked us to a near by courtyard with many cafes where we thanked her. After a refreshing stop, we retired to our room to cool down. Gerda then went shopping to the leather market while I tried to work on the blog ….. but the web was still slow, so I went out to and found Gerda by the market.
Now we wander on the cathedral side to places we haven’t been to before. Up and down side streets taking pictures like crazy …. as a photographer (starting with rolls of film) I remember how you waited for the perfect shot, because there were only 36 maximum to a roll. Now you can take as many as you want ….. The only consequence is you need more storage (cheap) and time to sort, catalog and process (expensive). Here’s one that I’ll keep, but need to process. Gerda, street lamp, Pont Vecchio and the sunset. Composition and color alright for the sunset, but too dark for the shadows. Another with that glowing, ethereal sunlight ……
…. good thing I shot these in CR2 RAW, but the processing will have wait til we get home.
With a short rest to recover from all the walking, fresh air ….. and hot sun, it’s off to find that elusive perfect culinary meal. Much wandering on both sides of the river before we stumble upon what might just be the place, Osteria del Cinehiale Bianco. At first I’m not sure, because we are taken to a small backroom alcove. It seems far from the action. But Gerda says it’s our party room.
Soon we are served and entertained by Daniel Craig (he was moonlighting), very friendly and accommodating.
When the meal came it was superb! The best in Florence so far, and may be better than Barcelona.
The onion flan was to die for …. the grilled chicken awesome and the dessert melts in your mouth with multiple, delightful chocolate flavours!
Florence – Day 3
A cloudy, lazy day ….. this is the latest we’ve slept in for ages. No breakfast, just a slow walk to the outer wall of the old city. It’s always amazing to watch and then try to mimic how well the locals walk the cobbled streets, dodging people, vehicles and loose stones. My ankles are sore!
Gerda completed her leather & lace shopping (purses & scarfs), and started her Pinocchio shopping ……. dancing marionette – none yet.
Two years ago, many cities came under seige from lovers, as they symbolically locked their love on any type of railing that existed. The little fence on the Pont Vecchio was no exception . …. well today they are gone.
The other icon that has intrigued us is the brass Boar by the leather market. They say you have good luck if you rub it’s snout. Looks pretty shiny to me ……. must be a lot of people with incredible luck out there!
Two final notes for Florence:
For the first, we unfortunately witnessed the take down of a knife wielding itinerant. Two military police, with machine guns pointed at him, shouted for him to drop his knife. His one hand was bloody. It looked like it might be his own blood (this made Brian believe he wanted to be arrested). He finally dropped it and started to walk away. The military forced him to the wall and subdued him …. show over folks, continue what you were doing.
It’s interesting how quickly the area cleared and became very quiet ….. and just as quickly resumed activities.
For the second, there is an amazing amount of talent that play (busk) for the crowds in any open space. Every day we have listened to good music all over the old city. Today, it ranged from ballads on Pont Vecchio, to baroque music behind the Domo, to guitar riffs in the central square. Quite entertaining.
Well …. unfortunately it’s time to shift locations again …. next stop Venice.