It was wonderful to wake up after a deep night's sleep and realize that I was in Florence again. Paul was still snoring so I gathered my lap top and camera and went to the terrace so I cold update my blog. I enjoyed sitting there, listening to the swallows dive through the air as they hunted mosquitoes, the church bells ringing . . . a peaceful way to get started.
Breakfast at the B and B was as plentiful as I remembered. Of course we ate far more than we should . . . this would be a pattern for the day.
After breakfast we headed out to find the meeting point for our walking tour. We had done the Original Florence Walking Tour when we were first in Florence in 2006 and thought it was a great introduction to the city. We were a bit nervous when we arrived because there was a huge crowd - not being a fan of crowded tours I was wandering about skipping out on it. However, there were three guides and we were split into smaller, more manageable groups. Most of our group were Americans with a few Brits and Aussies thrown in.
For the next three hours we wandered the city centre learning about the history of Florence, the people who lived there, and the cultural wealth of the city. Our guide, a Native Florentine (the first time we have every had a tour guide in Italy who was actually Italian), was clearly passionate about art.
The walk finished up at 12:30. We were checking the details of our Uffizi reservation when I realized that it was booked for the 31st. Opps This presented a problem as our visit to the Academia gallery was for about the same time. Somehow we'll figure out the dilemma of too much art out today.
We had planned on spending the afternoon at the Uffizi but since we weren't doing that today we suddenly had the gift of free time. Nancy and Joanne decided to go shopping (still no sign of Nancy's luggage), Paul and I went back to the B and B for a nap (stopping en route for pranzo).
We woke up at 4:00 and decided to head out into the world.
I wanted to go up to Piazalle Michaelangelo for the amazing views of the city. We had been advised to cab up and walk back. We managed to catch a cab by the Duomo - a feat in itself because the thunderstorms that had been threatening all day had arrived. Our driver whisked us up into the hills and 7 euros later we were let out at the famous square with a magnificent panoramic view of Florence, Italy.
The clouds had broken so we could stow the umbrellas and be awed by the sight. I am sure the area would have been far more crowded but the rain had done a number on the tourists. We were not complaining.
The view was stunning so we took a gazillion pictures. Our walk back down the hill to the Arno was made happier by the Rose and Japanese gardens we found along the way. The roses were past their best but you could tell how stunning they would have been a few weeks ago.
After crossing the Arno we had to rush a bit to get back to the B and B in order to meet Nancy and Joanne for dinner. Of course we got lost. While we know our way around the central part of Florence fairly well it was foolish to have set out without a map. We used the dome of the Duomo as our guide and eventually made it back to the B and B (after stopping for some shopping and finding Dante's House). We had just enough time to freshen up, change, and head out to the restaurant.
Dinner was at Cucina Del Garga. Part of Florence's culinary history was located on via del moro, Trattoria Garga, which was run by artist Giuliano Gargani and his Canadian wife Sharon Oddson. Wildly painted walls and non-traditional versions of Tuscan recipes were their trademark. Their son Alessandro left Florence and spent 7 years in New York, honing his skills before returning to Florence with his wife to raise his children where he grew up. His restaurant, located a few blocks from the Central Market, carries on in the tradition of his parents.
We had eaten there when we were last in the city and had such a fabulous meal that it was on our list of restaurants to return to.
Happily it was every bit as amazing as we remembered. We were amongst the first people in when they opened the doors but it wasn't long before the place was full. We had an amazing meal - great food, wonderful wine, and laughter. It was one of those meals when you look at our watch at the end and are amazed that 3 hours had whisked by.
It was even better because Joanne and Nancy had decided to treat Paul and I. Woo hoo
After dinner we made our way back to the B and B for a well-deserved sleep!