Monday, February 28, 2011

Travels in Italia - Firenze III

Our last two days were fairly relaxing and quiet. Our feet were starting to really hurt after a whole week of walking all day, every day. We ate both nights at the most fantastic restaurant, I Quattri Leoni, located in the Oltrarno neighborhood, across the Ponte Vecchia bridge. We could not get enough of the food at this restaurant, including a wonderful, avocado salad - something I haven't had since moving to Italy. Our final day, we did take the bus up to Piazza Michelangelo, on a hilltop overlooking the city. And of course, after six straight days of gorgeous blue skies, this was the day we had fog and haze. The view was still excellent, we just missed the backdrop of blue behind the rooflines. We also found where the men of Florence hang out. To our delight, the town of Florence was filled with women. Finally, we were in a place where other women were out together, eating together, in the coffee bars together - we no longer got strange looks (as happens in Naples). Up in this piazza, the men had congregated with their vintage cars. We got to walk around Cinquecentos, Fiats, a cute Katerina, Alfa Romeos - very fun and as interesting as the view over the city.
In this photo, you can see the old City wall
Behind the piazza is the San Miniato church, a cute, little confection in the same pink and green marble of the Duomo. It's quite beautiful inside, but mass was going on, so we popped in only to move our eyes around. It was freezing inside, which goes a long way in explaining why 90% of the women in the nord wear fur. Fur coats, long and short, fur on their boots, fur hats. I didn't even know people still wore fur on a regular basis. PETA would have a field day in northern Italy.

Beside the church is little shop run by the monks selling their tonics and such. This must be a big thing in these parts, monk produced toiletry items. I rather like the idea, although I've yet to try my tonics. Walking down from the church, we got to wander through the Oltrarno neighborhood, a little off the tourist path. K went on for a walk while I stopped off at Pitti Palace to visit the Costume Gallery and Argenti Museum (Treasure museum). What a complete waste of time and money. I hated both of them. I thought the layout was ridiculous, the exhibits poorly lit, oddly designed, and just plain boring. The Argenti Museum has a mandatory, extra exhibit on wine, for which 4euros is added to your ticket cost. This is just plain annoying since I had no desire to see this exhibit. The Costume Gallery is located through a maze of staircases and turns. All in all, I was disgusted. I visited the palace's Boboli Gardens eight years ago and remember them to be a peaceful haven and respite. This time, it was cold and late in the day (and I was so annoyed), so I headed back to the hotel for a long rest. It wasn't the best final afternoon in Florence, but our second dinner at I Quattri Leoni made up for it - that's the dinner where we were at a table next to actress Judy Davis for those of you who read that blog posting.
Just a random, gorgeous building

Now, on to the Tuscan hill town of Volterra...

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