April 11-25, 2023
Sorry for delayed reports....We slept well on our first night in Florence, woke up around 0800. The B&B provided coffee, tea and some basic snacks which we enjoyed in our comfortable room. We had previously talked about taking a train to day trip somewhere, but we reconsidered after getting a late start, not to mention the weather forecast was iffy all over the region. We decided to keep the day relaxed and would just walk around enjoying the simple fact that we were here.
It was an overcast day, yet we would realize that our rain coats were unnecessary. It was fun to people watch but we eventually escaped the enthusiastic crowds and wandered the side streets of Firenze. We happened upon Piazza San Pier Maggiore where we found a quiet spot for lunch. This spot was home to an 11th century monastery of which only the arches remain today, oh and the not so insignificant tower home of Dante still stands. Also interesting is that after Michelangelo's death in Rome his body was secretly moved to Florence, first to San Pier Maggiore before finally laid to rest in his tomb in Santa Croce.
My simple understanding of medieval history is that during Dante's time the Ghibellines (Roman Empire influenced) ruled the town and then the other political party the Guelfs (pro-Papal rule party) at some point took over Florence. As with politics there was infighting within the Guelfs itself...party split between the Black Guelf faction which supported Papal Rule and the White Guelfs favoring independent rule, Dante was affiliated and apparently fought with the White Guelfs calvary. The Black Guelfs eventually exiled many on the opposing side including Dante, unfortunately he would never return to his home in Florence. Now that I've read a little about the history... I find it interesting that we had lunch at Cafe I Ghibellini, which curiously sits within the shadows of the towering home of Dante, history is cool right! Again , my knowledge of the history is minimal and would enjoy hearing your knowledge if interested in sharing.
We really enjoyed our first pizzas of the trip. Always pleasantly surprised that a great pizza can cost less than 10 euros! Declining a take away box we proceeded to wander. We walked around the Basilica di Santa Croce and decided not to visit Michelangelo's tomb because of the number of school groups that were lined up, but we will secure a ticket on a future trip. Around the back of Santa Croce we saw a sign for the Scuola de Cuoio. If you like fine leather we recommend a stop here. We were fortunate to meet Francesca Gori, the Gori family has owned and operated the school since around 1950. Francesca was busy making her one of a kind hand bags, but graciously took the time to give us some history, explain her craft and even introduced us to one of her "artists" to explain the engraving process. Of course we bought a couple items and Giuseppe engraved them for us.
With perhaps the finest leather goods in hand we ventured back onto the cobblestones. We found an open table at a cafe on Piazza Santa Croce to enjoy a glass of Chianti. While admiring our beautiful surroundings we jumped ahead discussing our trip itinerary. We knew the following day we would pick up the car and drive to our airbnb in Pienza, but our 4 nights in Liguria still was unknown.... oh well, we will figure that out later and continued to walk.
Next stop was bustling Palazzo Vecchio. We spent a bit of time looking at the imposing sculptures on display, so many amazing works of art. We went inside of the museum as far as we could without a formal tour, wonderful place. There was a large open air market around the corner and we shopped a little, my wife found a couple colorful gifts to take home, she loves scarves!
The remainder of our afternoon included more walking and a snack along the Arno, love walking along the river. The day really flew by and before we knew it was close to dinner time, time to freshen up! We made an 8pm reservation at Trattoria Parione. We dined upstairs here in 2018 and this time we were seated in the cozy cellar, nice spot surrounded by wine. The wine, food and atmosphere was as perfect as we remembered from 5 years ago. The dinner was relaxed and quiet, but nearing dessert we discovered a birthday celebration was amongst us! After singing happy birthday and meeting our fellow diners the waiter started generously pouring us more wine, then more wine! Our nice dining neighbors were from Canada and we had great conversation. They told us they modified their trip from southern Italy to the north to escape the persistent rain, interesting. Their new itinerary was similar to ours and we all hoped the weather would stay in our favor! Ciao, until we meet again!