My husband and I were in Florence from the 10th of November to the 15th of November. This was our second time and I must say that the magic was still there. I am very much in love, still, with this beautiful city. We started in Rome for five days and took the ES took Florence on Friday afternoon. Arrived at Hotel David and checked in. This was also our second time at this hotel and my love for it grows each and every time. The people at the hotel are the most wonderful people-friendly, helpful, and speak enough English to make our stay a wonderful memory. The hotel is on the Oltrarno side of the river so it is not in the center, but for us that has not been a problem. Instead I think it has added to the whole experience. We get to see more of Florence that way and not just the more touristy center of town. The weather was wonderful while we were there, a little cool but not that bad at all. We walked Friday afternoon back into the center and stopped for pastries at Caffe Rivoire-zabaglione-and they were wonderful !! Sat on the steps of the piazza and "people-watched" for a bit, and then headed through the back streets to explore.There were some musicians playing in the Piazza Signoria who were very, very good and had attracted a very large crowd. They were there every day, I think. Love those street musicians!!! Afterward, we headed back towards the hotel to eat at our favorite Florence restaurant, GiGi, which is near the hotel. The family that owns the restaurant remembered us from the last visit and warmly welcomed us again. We ate pappardalle with cinguale(magnificent!!!!!)and roasted potatoes. My hubby followed with the roasted veal--excellente!- and then for dessert he had a truffle with chocolate and cream and I had a mixed plate of a lemon-cream tart and a tart with walnuts, pistachios and figs(oh my it was all wonderful!) and of course the house wine and water.
Saturday, we had a wonderful breakfast at the hotel--I had been waiting for one of their special cappucini and it was worth the wait ! Afterward, we walked to the Church of Santa Croce--very light on the tourists this time-- Went in and saw both the Church and the Museo del Opera. I absolutely fell in love again. I can't believe that we didn't go inside on our first trip here. Afterward, we had lunch at a little place called La Badiana near the Church. The calzone and panini were both very good as was the coffees. Very nice waitress, too. Next we headed for the accademia. Walked right in-no lines-and I was bedazzled again. David is unbelievable, but there are many other things to see inside that are extraordinary-IMHO. After leaving the museum, we walked a bit more and stopped to get a waffel with nutella-it was o.k., but not as fresh tasting as the ones we had in March. Went into Santa Maria Maggiore and looked around-another very beautiful church to add to my list. Walked to the Oltrarno side again and mingled with the locals before going to eat at Il Santo Bevitore. There we started with antipasti of assorted cheeses with jam and honey_sorry, I guess I like my cheese just plain!- and also one of prosciutto and salame. Next we had the tomato soup(pommodore) which was exquisite followed by pappardelle with rabbit sauce for me and penne with spicy tomatoes and zucchini for hubby. Both were excellent. Walked back to the center and all around-found the same musicians(a violinist and accordianist) that were playing in March--which was a wonderful treat as they perform magnificently. Towards the Ponte vecchio was another siger/guitarist and he too was doing a wonderful job. Watched the lights changing colors on the Ponte Vecchio and went back to the hotel.Hubby had arranged with a member of the staff(thanks again Chiara!!) to have wine and chocolates and red roses sent up to the room as we were celebrating a slightly belated anniversary. It was a perfect ending for another perfect day !
Sunday,We had reservations for 11:00 at the Uffizi---well, we still had to stand in a line to get our tix and then again in a fairly long line to get into the museum. It still saved a lot of time, but not as much as I had thought! Our hotel owner said that if we had gone through the week_even with reservations_ it would have been better. Anyway, once inside, I quickly forgot about the wait. So much to see that it boggles the mind. I thought I was prepared, but no way could I have been. I definitely need to go back again next time!
After the uffizi, we had gelato at da Neri's and it was really, really good! Went to Santa Maria Novella where of course we were bedazzled once more. So many beautiful churches to see! Walked around for a bit and had coffee and split a panini at Queen Victoria, which was really good--tomato and mozarella, oh boy! Then headed hack for the hotel's "happy hour" where we had wine and snacks and conferred with the staff about our upcoming daytrip to Siena. Went back to GiGi for dinner --started with bruschette and tomatoes, next to ribollita-hubby had grilled veal w/fried potatoes and I had pici alla'amatriciana with fried artichokes, wine and water. An excellent, excellent meal!! I can still taste that wonderful al dente pasta and the smell of those fried artichokes !!!!!!
Monday, took the bus to Siena. It was very easy to do!! The bus dropped us off very near to Piazza Campo. We grabbed a coffee and headed for the duomo. Miraculous!!! Bought the combo ticket for the Duomo, Baptistery, Excavation and Duom museum. Everything was wonderful! Went to see St. Catherines Sanctuary. Had pizza and went back to bus stop. I didn't get a feel for Siena and I don't know if that is because were only there for the day or not??? Be prepared for steeply inclining streets!! Siena is laid out very well though with plenty of signs to keep you on track. Headed back for Florence as we had a reservation for La Giostra. Unfortunately, this was the only BIG disappointment of our entire two weeks in Italy. I found it to be too pretentious for my taste. One of the Prince's son was walking around like he was supposed to be revered or something. The free antipasti was not that good in my opinion. The bruschetta or crostini was soogy and not toasted at all. I was not impressed. Our pasta was not that good either so we stopped after that. You can only buy a whole bottle of wine, of which I was only wanting a glass that evening so I was a little disappointed with that too. My gnocchi was so rich that I thought I would be sick from it. And I LOVE gnocchi. Ny husband had some type of raviolis with pears that were not that tasty and very much overpriced. Fourteen euro for 8 or 9 small ravioli was really overpriced. So dissappointed with that experience we went back to the hotel. A lot of people love this restaurant but we are really scratching our heads trying to figure out why !
Tuesday, our last day, we went to do laundry-oh the fun of doing laundry while the city of art is waiting to be explored!!! We bought a wheel of pecorino cheese, four bottles of olive oil and some jars of yellowfin tuna while our clothes were tumbling. Afterwards, we walked back to town, ate some gelato at Vivoli's which was not as good as da neri, but it was good. Went to the Duomo museum and the Duomo. I rate the museum with 10 stars! I loved the Crucifix and the Mary Magdalene, Michelangelo's Pieta,well,, I loved it all. Walked a while and found my favorite musicians again-bought their CD this time and I am playing it over and over! Stopped at Il Forno for a foccacio and bought some wonderful cookie. I highly recommend hunting this place! Walked a bit and went back to hotel for the evening snacks. We met some really wonderful people at this hotel-A couple from San Francisco-HI Jane and Horace! And also a very nice couple with their daughter and fiance from Texas-Hi Pat and Ken !!. Another reason why I love this hotel--you always meet someone very nice there. O.K., we went back ti GiGi's again for our last meal--can't help it I am in love with that restaurant! Started once again with the bruschetta and tomatoes--LOVE the tomatoes in Italy--we both followed with the ribollita-it is that good!--hubby went for the bistecca this time-perfetto-with fried potatoes and I had the roasted pork with artichokes(fried) again-we followed with a zucotto fiorentino and pears with chocolate and whipped cream--wine and water. The owners gave us some Moscato---wow was that good!!!
Wednesday, lingered over breakfast talking to our new friends. Went to the train station to go to Assisi. Sad farewells to all--I love Florence and Hotel David.
We did not see as many churches and museums as i would have liked this time, but Hubby was really getting "arted out" I felt sorry for him as he had been such a good sport !!! well, I left some things for my next trip !
Any questions feel free to ask !!!