Part 2 of 3.
Although we could have stayed in Rome forever, Firenze awaited us. A quick 90-minute train ride delivered us neatly to the city, and when we arrived it was hot and muggy. We made our way to our hotel, which turned out to be the single best lodging experience of the trip. If any of you make it to Florence, I highly recommend staying at the Hotel David. Although located slightly away from the center of the city, it was warm, comfortable, affordable, and hospitable. And we didn't mind the mile walk (or bus ride, when it was raining) along the Arno River to the center of the city. Walking a few extra miles a day lets you eat even more gelato.
Although not as big and bustling as Rome, Florence is a lovely city, the birthplace of the Renaissance and full of art and beautiful architecture, including the striking Ponte Vecchio (old bridge), pictured here. You can't drive across the bridge; instead it's full of shops. From the outside it looks like little apartments smashed together.
The highlight of Florence, hands down, was seeing the statue of David. It's enormous, beautiful, and moving. I can barely think of it without feeling it.
And of course, we enjoyed the Duomo...
And just walking around.
Like in Rome, everywhere we turned, there was something beautiful.
Another day, we found the legendary I Due Fratellini, a sandwich shop--stand, really, that's been around since 1875. Here's the storefront.
We snagged a spot by the shelf so we could put our glasses down and concentrate on our panini.
We had some fantastic dinners in Florence, too, including one at Osteria del Cinghale Bianco. This had been recommended by a friend who lived in Florence a number of years ago, and it did not disappoint. We ordered ribollita, the famous Tuscan vegetable soup thickened with bread, paparadelle with wild boar ragout, bacalao (salted cod) with white beans, and roasted rabbit with crispy potatoes.
We also found a terrific spot for lunch one day, Volpe e L'uva, which specialized in small sandwiches.
We ordered quite a few: tuna and Armagnac, porcini and truffles, smoked goose and butter, plus crostone with truffled sausage. Here's a picture of the tuna and Armagnac sandwich.
I lobbied for a salad, too, to keep up with appearances
And there was some wine.
One of our best dinners of the whole trip was our last night in Florence, at Trattoria Gigi. We decided to stay close to the hotel and are glad we did--though perfectly average looking on the outside, the food was a real standout.
The husband followed this with a mixed fried plate of seafood and vegetables (he's from Kentucky--he can get his fry on!) while I opted for rigatoni alla amatriciana. Everything came out on plain white plates--no garnishes, no explanation from the waiter about the food's provenance, no fanfare. None was needed. Everything was simple, and perfect.
I'd love to return to Florence, to see the statue of David again, to eat some more sandwiches at I Due Fratellini, and to get back to Gigi. And to see many of the things we weren't able to get to in four days. It's a charming city and one we could have explored much more. But, we were Tuscany-bound.
|I want this car.|