Thursday, December 31, 2009
Yesterday was our trip to Firenze!! We accidentally slept in a little bit (whoops) but after our rough start, the day only got better! We stopped first at a local bar in town and got some paste- 2 croissants and these amazing pastries filled on one side with Nutella and the other with a creamy Éclair-like filling, SO GOOD! Got some cappuccinos as well. Firenze wasn't a bad drive as we are learning the roads with each day we spend here. When we were almost into the city, we took a wrong turn and ended up on a road about 2 feet wider than the width of our van. We had to pull the rearview mirrors in to fit through the tighter spots! Mom and I were shielding our eyes while everyone else kept lookout and assisted dad in navigating the incredibly tight streets. We were stuck for nearly 15 minutes before we could make our way out of the tiny maze. Everyone was giddy after that as the adrenaline was still pumping through our veins. Dad did an amazing job!!! We parked in Piazza Michelangelo which boasts incredible views over all of Firenze. After taking some pictures of the beautiful scenery, we headed down the hill and into the city. We walked to the Ponte Vecchio and it was especially fun being the leader of the pack for me! I know the city quite well after my 6 weeks there and the familiarities were not only helpful but very exciting. It was like being back home! Before we crossed the Ponte Vecchio, we stopped in a ceramic shop where my parents continued their search for the seemingly lost work of Parini. They only had one piece left and my parents used their self control to resist buying the plate. We have so much already! They did buy a wine pitcher which we have been needing at our home. We took the short walk to the Pitti Palace just to show everyone the outside. Then we crossed the Ponte Vecchio which was as always crowded. We took our time strolling across and viewing all the beautiful jewelry. Then we headed to the Piazza Vecchio and spent some time there. I got to show my whole family the face carved into the side of the building which Michelangelo supposedly carved there in order to remember a face in the crowd of a man who owed me money. Thank you, Professor Nero!! We headed to the Loggia del Mercato Nuovo, home of the famous boar whose snout you stroke. We followed the tradition of placing a coin in his mouth in the hopes it will fall out and into the grate below. I failed entirely-- guess that's why my suitcase still hasn't arrived? Yes, I'm serious. We spent a brief time in the market and then moved on to the Piazza della Repubblica- the piazza I walked through every day to get to class!! Great memories! We headed down the street FSU is on and I got to show my parents the campus a little bit. We peeked through the windows in the back and they got to see the classroom and the library. Pretty cool!! I also showed them the nearby ristoranti we were frequent diners of. We found a small little ristorante to eat at. It was one of our best meals in Firenze!! I started with Zuppa di Porri- a leek soup. I was a little nervous because I have never had anything like it but it was delicious!! Nice and creamy with plenty of leek flavor and served with a toasted piece of bread. Heather and Dad opted for the zuppa di fagioli, yum! And David had a risotto di mare which was great. Fresh mussels, clams and a white fish. Per secondo, I had a white pizza with braesola (one of my favorite things in Italy, cured beef) and arugula. One of my favorite appetizers in Italy was always the braesola con burrata served with arugula and this was the epitome of that appetizer served on a crispy pizza crust.. heavenly! Heather had a pizza with zucchini flowers and anchovies, Alan had a cheese pizza with tomatoes, Dad had ossobucco, Mom and David has pesche di giorno, a grilled fish which was lovely and served with spinach. Alan and David got HUGE mugs of Italian beer along with their meal and the rest of us drank some delicious Chianti :) After lunch we split up... the boys headed to a museum and the girls and Dad went to do some shopping. It's Florence, it was necessary!! We first headed to Ethic, a store right down the street from FSU's campus that Carlina, Aleksa and I went to at least once a week because they had such beautiful clothes. Heather and I both lucked out! I got 2 beautiful sweaters. We walked around for a bit in search of some boots for me and I was lucky in finding a beautiful pair of brown boots with a short heel- very Italian!! Then we went back to the Loggia del Mercato Nuovo where Heather purchased a beautiful purse, gloves and scarves which were all haggled down from their original price. Go Heather!! I purchased a leather jacket. Originally marked at 220 euro (more than 350 dollars), I haggled it down to 110 with the help of my dad. We were giddy after we finished, go me!! My mom bought a beautiful purple embroidered scarf. After quite a successful shopping trip, we headed back to the Piazza Vecchio where we had some drinks and people watched. The boys met up with us after visiting the Museo Accademia and we decided to walk around a bit as we needed to grow our appetite before we could eat again! We went to the duomo and Heather, David and Alan climbed the torre which unfortunately was the only thing left open. Mom, Dad, and I stuck to the bottom where we people watched some more. Never gets old in a city! We all rejoined and made the long walk back across the Arno. We decided on a quaint restaurant just inside the city walls that was in a garden. (Carlina and Aleksa-- we always wanted to eat here!!). Everyone was tired and cranky but the night was salvaged by a great meal and great wine. I started with a burrata appetizer which Alan also ordered. It included not only burrata but grilled vegetables, a salad, tomato bruschetta, and marinated sun-dried tomatoes and artichokes. YUM! Dad and David got a bean soup with clams. Mom and Heather were wusses and only ordered one course but it ended up coming with our appetizer. A seafood pasta with shrimp and clams. For our secondo, I got gnudi which are deemed "ravioli without the pasta." I wasn't sure what to expect but when it arrived it was exactly as described. Huge balls of rich ricotta and herbs in a traditional burro e salvia sauce (butter and sage). The dish was good but very rich.. I had trouble eating 4 of the 6 gnudi. Alan, Dad, and David all ordered the mare fritti which was an AMAZING plate of tempura fried fish and veggies. When the waiters delivered the plates we were all giggling because of their hugeness but as always, the boys nearly cleaned their plates. After dinner we still had the walk back to Piazza Michaelangelo... a long walk uphill! It was strenuous and when we got to the top we were thoroughly looking forward to some long awaited gelato. We stepped up to the counter but no one served us. After a few "ahem's" we decided to leave... we refuse to beg to pay someone. But I was disappointed :( Still no gelato yet this trip! Guess it's good for my waistline after all the pasta I have been eating!! We will save the gelato for Roma. We made it home and everyone was pretty exhausted from such a long day so we all went to sleep. Quite a great day in Firenze and I think we managed to see a lot of things for a limited time in such a big, wonderful city. It was great to visit again. As I always say, Firenze has my heart and I hope to one day end up living there. I'll see you soon, Firenze! xxo.