Florence - Good Art and Better Food

Trip Start Sep 13, 2006
Trip End May 25, 2007

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

See all our photos of Florence on our Smugmug Page!

Florence is, according to those who keep track of these things, is one of the the most visited city in Europe, especially by Americans. It has an image of Italian charm and is near the hill towns of Tuscany, a place that holds a special attraction to those from the US. Some of it's big draws are Renaissance art and the famous museums that hold them - the Academy and the Uffizi. Other than that, it is food, shopping and visiting other famous buildings and churches around the town.

Though we happened to come during a rainy spell, we don't have too many complaints with the off season travel here. The lines are non-existent and the restaurants always have a table, even the very popular ones. It is never too hot either, something we hear complained about in the summer.

We stayed at a Convent across the river from the main sites. The sisters lived in a huge mansion that was donated to them decades ago and rented out rooms to quiet tourists who don't mind bathrooms in the halls and an 11pm curfew. We were willing to sign up and were treated with sparkling clean rooms and a delicious breakfast. On our first morning we met the priest who said mass for the sisters each morning and he turned out to be a Tanzanian priest, Fr. Valentino, here for further studies. Small world! We were able to spend some time with him and use some Swahili again.

One achievement of the time in Florence was climbing the dome of the Duomo, the main church in the city. No elevators to help us up, we managed the 463 steps and were rewarded with the best views in the city. It was good to burn off some calories as we weren't going hungry here. We tried a lot of restaurants in the city, especially those in our Rick Steves guide. One restaurant on the edge of town but within walking distance of our hotel was described in the book as "disturbingly cheap". Very curious to see what constituted as "disturbingly cheap" we tried it and found the food delicious and the prices half of what we pay in the city. The menu was typed with a real typewriter. Of course Sara had to drag everyone to Vivolis, the famous gelato shop she remembered from her visit here with the Concordia College classics department. The gelato there was as good as she remembered and worth every penny.

On the last day Mom and Carolyn bought some Florentine leather, plus some Italian deli food to stash in their luggage to take back to Dad and Travis.

At the end of our time in Florence we had to say goodbye to Mom and Carolyn. Very sad indeed. We had been having a great time hanging out with them, despite all the extra bathroom breaks. It was time for us to head to Croatia and for them to head to Sweden to visit Mathias and the kids before heading home.
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