This is Part II of IV recapping my recent Italian excursion. Read Part I here and Part II here. You can also read about my tirade against American Airlines here.
So let’s see . . . where did we leave off? Oh yes, ‘twas the morning of October 7 and our departure from Brescia. It was time to hop on a train bound for Florence!
Because Brescia is a small town, getting to Florence required changing trains in Padova. We had a narrow, 15-minute window, and I knew that was going to be trouble. Italian trains are notoriously late; in fact, this trip featured the most consistent trains I’ve encountered. Both of my overnight trains before had been hours late. Anyway, inevitably our train to Padova was exactly 15 minutes late, but I wasn’t going to give up. We sprinted, bags in hand, down a flight of stairs, back up another, and then to our car on the other train. We made it! I can’t imagine it took longer than 30 seconds.
When we arrived in Florence, we walked to the hotel, Locanda Orchidea:
Ahhhhh. The fates smiled on us and gave us a free upgrade to a room with a private shower. Woo hoo! Look at how amazing the room was:
We paid €65 a night for this place. It’s unreal!
Over the next two days, we did the things one should do in Florence, such as climb 463 steps to the top of Brunelleschi’s dome in the Duomo:
Check out that view of Tuscany:
And wake up insanely early to be the first people in line for the Uffizi:
And enjoy the sunlight reflecting off Ponte Vecchio (that’s sunrise, folks, not sunset):
And buy clothes you just can’t live without:
Sweater dress from Zara and the most amazing vintage boots from a lovely boutique along the Arno.
If you go to Florence, you must:
- Visit the Uffizi. It’s touristy for a reason. Every room is filled with amazing art, even the hallways. Get up early and go!
- Have gelato at Grom.
- See The David. Even if you don’t look at anything else in the Accademia, you would be crazy not to see this massive masterpiece.
- Shop at Boutique Nadine on the Lungarno.
And now, food:
Our day started with the unpictured brioche and coffee I mentioned in Part II. The eating continued that afternoon with gelato from Grom:
I had salted caramel and fiordilatte, which is basically cream. My taller half had coffee and crema di Grom, the house specialty, which combines egg, Piedmontese cookies, and dark Columbian chocolate. The flavors were incredibly smooth, and I loved that the place uses some organic and lots of seasonal ingredients.
For dinner that evening, we had panini at Antico Noe`. I apologize for the insane crappiness of this photo, but we ate outside after dark:
I promise that isn’t bacon. Mine was filled with a squash-blossom frittata, and my love’s was Caprese-style (mozzarella, tomato, and basil). We both liked ours a lot, but mine was really, really, really good. We had more Italian Cokes on the side. Craving a little snack, we also had something crunchy and salty:
PAPRIKA PRINGLES! I love these things so much. I am sad every time I remember that they are not available in this country. I don’t know why Pringles wants to deprive Americans of this most delicious flavor of potato chips, but they do. Oh yes, and we had the Hot & Spicy ones, too. They were good, but I love Paprika, forever and always.
This day started earlier than I care to admit: 6 a.m. The guidebooks went on and on about four-hour lines at the Uffizi. Since we didn’t have a ton of time in Florence, this was not a good option for us. My taller half turned to me the day before and asked, “What are the chances you’ll get up at 5 tomorrow?” to which I could only reply, “Honestly, honey, there isn’t a chance in hell I’ll wake up that early.” We compromised with 6 instead. The museum didn’t open until 8:15, but by golly, we were the first two crazy people there.
Anyway, rising that early meant no breakfast beforehand. Instead, we explored half the museum and then ventured down to their bar around 10:00. I had a cappuccino and brioche (cream-filled), and he had just the former. Since I didn’t let my booty touch a chair, it was surprisingly inexpensive. And tasty, too. It’s unpictured, though, since we weren’t supposed to use cameras inside.
We saw lots of wonderful art, and I encourage all of you to read about it. I did not take pictures because I find it insane when people photograph pieces inside museums. It’s disrespectful and degrading to the work (and I mean that literally). Instead, Google the museum and get out there yourself someday.
After all that culturin’, these Okies needed some food. We walked over to ‘Ino, a paninoteca, for lunch. Mine had stroza (a kind of cheese) and a pesto made of zucchini. Sorry again for the blurriness.
My taller half enjoyed gorgonzola and mustard, which was not at all like the American variety. Both came on phenomenal bread. I could have eaten my weight in it.
After viewing the David (hey, baby), we had more gelato. But of course. This time, the location was Gelateria dei Neri:
I had white chocolate and Mexican chocolate. He had chocolate with orange and hazelnut. The chocolate with orange took the cake for Most Likely to Make You Slap Your Mama.
After some strolling and shopping (see above), we decided to have aperitivo at Pop Café for dinner. I sipped a Coke, and he had sparkling water, then we dove into the free buffet:
It was all-vegetarian at the beginning, but eventually the meat came out. Of the meat-free choices, we enjoyed a grain salad (I can’t figure out what kind) with tomatoes, bread, veggies with curry dip, and a tasty risotto. I had seconds of pretty much everything. I was getting a migraine, so we couldn’t stay long, but it was a tasty end to the busy, busy day.
We awoke early-ish for our departure from beautiful Florence. Since the hotel did not have breakfast available, we strolled down the road looking for Chiaroscuro, a café with a very positive reputation. However, they decided not to open on time, so we had to scramble to find somewhere else. Enter Bar Cucciolo (which means puppy – I love it!). It was close to the hotel and open, so we went for it.
Gorgeous cappuccino and coffee (mine and his). I also had a cream-filled brioche (obsessed much?). The service was delightful, and since they had just opened, everything was fresh. They also didn’t make us pay to sit – woo hoo! The walls had fun pictures from the bar’s early years in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. So fun and unexpected. I highly recommend the place. It was a delicious breakfast.
And then we grabbed our bags for our departure to Rome. Look for Part IV soon!