Thursday, October 20 2005: Under The Tuscan Rain
Awakened by the relentless rain hitting the rooftops, we bundled up in our rain gear and headed out into grey, soggy, Florence. As a native Oregonian, I usually don’t mind the rain, but it’s different here. The cobblestoned streets and sidewalks create seemingly unending puddles to navigate and, combined
with a million umbrellas belonging to a million tourists, it makes for a
frustrating time just walking down the street. It was in this manner that we walked to the Duomo area, just steps from our apartment and on to the Uffizi Gallery just a few minutes further.
After thinking about what a visit would entail, and the fact that neither one of us was particularly fond of old art, we blew off the Uffizi (!) and headed up to Piazzale Michelanglo. Crossing the Ponte Vecchio, we had no idea what was in store for us other than M. had heard the view was “real fierce”.
We hopped the city bus which dropped us off at the bottom of the hill and then enjoyed an exhilarating hike up to Piazzale Michelangelo. The view did not disappoint – we were treated to a spectacular view of San Lorenzo’s dome, the Duomo, and Florence in all her beauty surrounded by lush dark green mountains with clouds clinging to them.
It was almost like looking at the West Hills in Portland, save for the red-tiled roofs below. We stood and stared, took movies and pictures, and then decided that we needed (and deserved!) a gelato. I had a mixed fruit variety that tasted like raspberries, blackberries, and currants and M. enjoyed strawberry.
Afterwards, we walked up the hill a bit further and peeked into a Franciscan church and then down again where I spotted a cute cat with a face that reminded me a bit of our Callie. I stopped to zoom in on the cat but he came running up to me for some attention, and I was all too happy to attend to his needs. For some reason, this caused the two
hot policeman strolling by great amusement, and they smiled and laughed at me and pointed at the cat. They seemed quite surprised that the cat should be so friendly with me and I with him, but we were great buddies.
We were ready to leave and were looking for a place to buy city bus tickets just as the Open Top sightseeing bus pulled up. We have done these in other cities and had talked about doing it here in Florence, so we bought tickets and hopped on. The sun was peeking out and the rain had stopped, so we enjoyed a fantastic view as we were whisked down the mountain.
By the time we got back to central Florence, we were famished and stopped into a self-serve “cafeteria” where I had a delicious lasagna and M. had some kind of tortellini. He kept picking out his peas and I kept eating them – yum. The rain started up again and so we decided to pop by our apartment and dry out before getting back on the sightseeing bus and going to Fiesole.
After less than an hour we were out again, but the rain was coming down harder and so we bailed on Fiesole and decided to check out the inside of the Duomo cathedral and the remains below instead. It was a relatively cheap thrill, and it was neat to see the remains of the church that was originally built on that site during Roman times – Santa Reparta.
After yet another gelato for me and a cappucino for M, we split up as I was absolutely ITCHING to do some clothes shopping. I negotiated an hour in the excellent COIN department store whilst M wandered around outside, bored and wet, calling me and asking me if I was done yet. After an hour (with a new jacket and new hat in tow), I too was tired and we headed back to the apartment to dry out – again.
Around 7:30pm or so we headed downstairs to eat at Giovanni again and were seated next to an interesting American couple from Washington D.C. We talked nearly the whole time, which is surprising for us since we usually shy away from Americans while abroad.
I had a delicious and hearty Tuscan Tomato and Bread Soup (Poppa al Pomodoro, I think) and Beef Stew in Chianti sauce, and M had Penne in a Meat and Cream sauce (he said it was even as good as Hamburger Helper – which is the highest possible compliment for him) and Beef Florentine with potatoes. We again drank the house white – it’s so much cheaper to drink wine here than anything else, so we are learning to live with it.
Stuffed and tired from the rain, we returned to our apartment around 9pm and read and rested for the rest of the evening.
Next: Fielsole again, the Mercato Centrale, and seeing Michelangelo’s David.