Buonasera from Firenze. It is currently 6:20 in the evening and we have a little bit of downtime so we decided to get a start on today’s blog post (even though we still have dinner to go). It has been a full day in beautiful Florence. We are really enjoying it here.
We woke up nice and refreshed and went down for the classic continental breakfast. Considering this is the nicest hotel we have stayed at, the breakfast was probably the worst one yet. Just not good. Tomorrow morning we are going to wake up a bit earlier and go to a little cafe across the road which looks quite nice.
After breakfast we were transported into the town centre where the group had our first stop – a leather demonstration and information. It is basically a big leather and jewellery store that all Contiki groups come into and they tell you a bit about leather and the jewellery and try and sell things to you. I would imagine that Contiki get some type of kick back. It is a bit of a dog thing for them to do, but the leather and jewellery is really good quality and you get 10% off + no tax if you don’t live in Europe.
Aimee bought a “puzzle ring” and a purse. The puzzle ring is a ring that when you take it off, it falls apart and is a puzzle to put back together. They told us that they were created by a Turkish King who wanted to make sure his many wives were not cheating on him, so he had these rings created that only he knew how to rebuild. That way if the wives took their ring off to appear single, he would then know.
After we did that we grabbed a coffee and began an included walking tour of Florence. Our tour guide was this little old Italian lady with a little speaker an microphone. She was actually probably the best local guide we have had yet, she was informative and funny. We spent about an hour walking around Florence and learning things about the Medici family and the ponte vecchio, the duomo, the palazzo vecchio and of course Michelangelo.
After the walking tour it was lunch time. There is a panini place in Florence that has the most positive reviews in the world on trip advisor. It is so popular that they opened three locations right next door to each other and there are still huge lines. We knew it would be worth it though, so we lined up and got them. Aimee got a mortadella pistachio panini and Ronnie got l’inferno which had assorted vegetables, some pork and some chilli. They were very good, massive serving and very cheap. The bread was really hard and the fillings were plentiful. We can see why it is so popular!
We then grabbed some gelato at a place called “Venchi” that has a wall of flowing chocolate. It was pretty crazy and delicious gelato. Very creamy and very rich.
We started walking to the accademia (which was pretty difficult to find). We had booked in to see the famous Michelangelo’s David. It is a beautiful sculpture that was made out of a single piece of marble. It is quite awe-inspiring to sit in front of. Michelangelo was truly an amazing craftsman (but apparently he was a wanker). He actually spent his first year creating his masterpiece out of the four years it took to complete working in a hospital to study anatomy so he could perfectly sculpt the veins and muscles.
We decided to head back to the hotel to do something that’s we were in dire need of – laundry. It was about a 400m walk down to the laundromat where we sat with some of our Contiki buddies. It was actually quite nice talking and bonding time. We went back to the hotel, enjoyed the air conditioning and showered to get ready for the night.
Tonight was had an optional dinner (paid extra for) called “Tuscan Experience”. It was at a beautiful chateau on top of a hill that overlooks vineyards and Tuscan towns. We were greeted with the sweetest sangria for apperitivo (Sangria is not Italian, but it was so tasty). This was a four course meal. The first course was some little crustini’s with pate, olive and sausage on the different ones and some cured meats which was nice. The primo was risotto, a ribollita (chickpea and bread soup thing?) and some pasta. The risotto was delicious, so was the pasta but we didn’t really like the ribollita, it also looked like vomit – ha! The secondo was the porchetta which Tuscany is famous for. It was a pork with potatoes. The pork was salty and delicious. It wasn’t too dry like a lot of pork is, it was perfetto.
Then for dessert we had a bombalaska which was pretty delicious too, but by that point we were pretty full..not just of food but of wine. The meal came with unlimited wine (most dinners seem to do that here). Of course we got on it pretty heavily. We also had a shot of this drink that is made by cloistered monks in a monastery on the hill that is 93% alcohol. They call this shot a digestivo in Italy, its a drink (usually alcoholic) that is intended to help you digest and “clean you out”. It was surprisingly smooth, but because of the high alcohol content it felt like super strong mouth wash and left your mouth and your face tingling. A strange sensation, but a good experience.
It turned out to be a pretty great night. We were in a beautiful Tuscan location, eating delicious food, drinking delicious wine and being merry and laughing with friends. It was really beautiful. Our time in Florence/Tuscany in general has been really amazing, It has the old world charm of Italy minus the chaos of Rome and southern Italy. Just unbelievable.
Coffee – €5
Leather shop purchases – €261.40
Panini’s – €14
Gelato – €9
Tram – €3
Laundry – €11
Soft drink (at laundry) – €4
Tuscan Experience dinner – €98
Definitely our most expensive day and we far exceeded the budget today However, overall we are still over €500 under budget so that is good news. Today we head for Venice via fair Verona.
Ronnie and Aimee