We slept late our first morning in Florence, and weren’t particularly hungry, even though the last time we ate was crepes in Amsterdam. We’re staying with a friend of Rob’s who’s teaching at NYU here, and lives in a sweet penthouse in Piazza Pitti. The area is crawling with tourists, even though Florence’s main sights are across the River Arno.
First thing we did was cross Ponte Vecchio and grab a table at the nearest patio restaurant that looked cute, complete with a view of the David replica in Piazza Vecchio. After we ordered, I looked the place up on my Trip Advisor app, and read reviews calling it an overpriced tourist trap. True enough, they brought Rob the most enormous 7 Up of all time and charged him €8.80 ($11. At least he got value for the price.) Our spaghetti was OK, and I don’t even know if I would have found it disappointing if I hadn’t read the reviews. Still, at €45 for the meal, we spent more than we meant to, wanted to, or needed to.
Next we visited the impressive Duomo, where the low lighting inside prevented me from taking a decent photo.
We didn’t book advance tickets to see the David in the Galleria della Accademia, but I assured Rob it was a must-see, and worth whatever the wait. We spent about an hour in line (I passed the time reading on my Nook, Rob played Angry Birds.) Within a minute of being in the museum, having seen the first of Michelangelo’s Slaves, but with David still down the hall, Rob said, “Oh yeah, this was worth it.”
We met our host, Brendan, for dinner at a less touristy place, Natalino, where he ordered pear and gorgonzola ravioli (acclaimed on Trip Advisor, as it turns out), Rob had fresh pasta with meat sauce, and I had melanzane alla parmesana. Dessert was a rich chocolate cake.
We drank Chianti and wandered the streets of Florence until I got a grip on taking photos at night.
Day two: Several Trip Advisor reviews said the Bardini Gardens were better than Boboli, and I have to agree. You get admission to both with a ticket purchased at Palazzo Pitti. The Palatina Gallery is a separate admission. We went there first and admired the ceilings painted with frescoes of Roman myths. I enjoyed these more than the dark-hued Renaissance paintings on the wall. Almost too many really to look carefully at any of them.
Afterward we wandered Boboli Gardens, which is known more for its fountains than for its flora. Neptune was my favorite, spearing the green pond so murky you couldn’t see the fish, as water spurted up his crack.
By then we were hot and thirsty, so we tried to follow the signs to a coffee shop, which got us confused and almost lost as we switchbacked down to the entrance from whence we came.
We found our way back to the pizza place our host recommended: Gusta Pizza, allegedly the best pizza in Florence. Rob was disappointed, but I scarfed the pizza margherita, with a slightly creamy tomato sauce and hunks of mozzarella. It may actually be the best pizza here, as I explained to Rob, pizza is different in Italy.
We took a little rest, then walked to the Bardini Museum to see some sculpture. None of my guide books told me it wasn’t open on Thursday. So we hit the Bardini Gardens, which features as steep a climb as Boboli, has sculptures as intriguing (including stone canines I snuggled up to), and flowers! (Which Boboli lacks.)
We strolled to the spectacular view at the top where, unlike Boboli, there’s a beer garden. Nice place to blog, too.
Note: I won’t be able to upload my own photos until I get home, so these blog posts feature Rob’s pics from his iPad.
Note2: While I’ve enjoyed Trip Advisor’s reviews, its Florence map is insufficient. The Amsterdam map is better. Sadly, there’s no Trip Advisor app for Russia.