Another fabulous day in Firenze! We have been on the move since landing and the fatigue of the journey is creeping up. We decide to have a leisure day and just go slow. After our satisfying breakfast we head out to walk the streets. We had hoped to see the Cathedral but the 2+ hour line in the hot sun persuades us otherwise. So off to explore it is!! We decide to head away from the crowds, and I do mean crowds. It resembles the crowd at Disneyland with people heading this way and that, oh my!
We find ourselves on the "other side of the river." The sounds of the city quickly change from the roar of the crowd to jack hammers, street cleaners and Mama's calling to their children. The buildings are tall with flower boxes hanging in windows and laundry on lines to dry. A chuckle emerges on our faces as we look to eachother and shrug our shoulders. This is the real Firenze. This is what I long to see, the heart of the city. A gentle calmness fills my body as we admire the architecture and beauty of the buildings, so ancient and full of stories.
I have fully lost any sense of time until my stomach begins to rumble and I realize it is probably lunch time. As we round the next corner a small trattoria appears filled with customers enjoying their mid day meal. See map: Trattoria del Carmine We are greeted with a smile and shown to a small outdoor table. Here we receive our menu handwritten and completely in italian.
Out comes Google translate, most is translatable but a few words do not carry over, guess we shall see what we get. Michael orders veal with tuna and mayonnaise. This is a cold dish; a thin sheet of veal smeared with a tuna spread. He smiles with satisfaction.
I ordered orecchiette pasta, or little ear as it resembles the shape of an ear, with tomatoes and ricotta along with grilled porcini mushroom caps.The ricotta was to die for! Creamy and smooth with a soft taste. The mushrooms are different than our porcini. I am guessing they are foraged and of a different variety. The underside is solid and soft without the usual feathers we are use to. The texture is silky and soft and the flavor is devine. Much more mild than our porcini mushrooms.
Still, I can never finish my meal, this is a problem becauce the waiters are always asking if I liked it, then looking at my plate with the remaining food. I try, one would think I would eat so much more for all the walking we do, the heat just keep my hunger at bay. After lunch we work our way back to the Ponte Vecchio and walk through more shops, stopping here and there for espresso and gelato. We cross the bridge one final time, taking pictures to prove our passage and head back to the hotel.
As we walk we enjoy the people watching. With all the modern technology, selfies are the in thing. I watch as a young woman practices several head tilts and smiles in her phone before choosing the perfect pose. Completely in her own world, she moves onto the next stop, I giggle quietly to myself.
Micheal has another pair of beautiful handmade leather shoes that have occupied his want list, so we are headed back to Benhart to buy them. As we approach the store we are cautioned by the loud roar of a motorcycle. The young driver is carrying a young girl on the back and he his speeding through the streets. As I stand in amazement, I think to myself, he is going to hit someone if he does not slow down. Sure enough, we hear a blood curdling scream, see a man fly up in the air and hear the motorcycle crash. The crowd that has scurried out of the way quickly jumps in to help the injured. We choose to not be spectators and go inside the store to decompress. Tip: Italians drive incredibly fast everywhere! Never assume you have the right of way. If you see or hear a vehicle just wait for them to pass. In the big cities we heard sirens day and night. On to better things! Dinner was at a recommened restaurant near our hotel called Boarderline. This was a hip and newer restaurant filled with locals and tourist alike. We sit and look over the menu while our waiter brings us a bag of local bread. The bread in Florence is very bland with no salt added. This is traditional for this city. I could not eat it as I felt the desire smear salted butter over it and this was not offered. Michael orders the octopus with purple potatoes for the antipasta. I am really trying to like octopus, I enjoy the flavor just can't get past the texture. Micheal is in heaven and devours the two tenticles with glee.
For the primo: I order saffron rissoto with vegetables. This arrivies in a bowl all steaming hot and smelling of saffron. The creamy dish yellow from the saffron and the broth slightly salty. It is hard to stop eating it.
For our secondo: Michael orders the veal steak which comes on a wooden board and must weigh at least a pound. He is unsure if he can eat it in it's entirety but he will give it a shot.
I order the grilled chicken with roasted vegetables. This is just that, a grilled chicken breast over roasted vegeables. Simple and tasty. We walk back to our hotel for dessert and one final cocktail on the roof.
We enter and find an Italian bachelor/bachelorette banquet. This is held one week before the wedding and is an opportunity for both sides of the family to meet and mingle. Back in the day, this is when the dowry would have been paid and all points of business finalized.
Our drinks arrive, I have had four gin and tonics at this bar over our stay and each one comes completely different. One with a slice of lemon, then a slice of cucumber, next currant berries, followed by flaming lime with fennel and pink peppercorns and the last sprinked with pink peppercorns. OK so five, don't judge me please! All and all they were very good, I will miss the surprise.
So goodnight my friends. Tomorrow we are off to Modena the city of Balsamic vinegar and Ferrari.