Florence, or "Firenze"

Hi all! We're so far behind. Please forgive the brief posts. Photos will say more than I will.

April 23, 2010

A miserable weather day, but it hardly matters when you're wandering the capital of Tuscany.

We docked in Livorno and instead of touring Pisa we took a 90-minute tour bus ride (with the exception of a grand house on a hillock and a couple vineyards the scenery is rather plain) into Florence for a half-guided, half-independent walking tour. We quickly abandoned our group and struck out on our own in search of a dry, authentic, off the beaten path Italian restaurant and some genuine minestrone.

We found the perfect place in a back alleyway: Ristorante Il Paiolo, where the chef and proprietor shelled fava beans together on the back table.

I think we had a Chianti--when in Florence... I did have the minestrone. I suspect it's more of a whatever's in the garden/kitchen soup in Italy as it varies greatly. I had minestrone a few times and it was usually a clearer broth with just a few vegetables like yellow squash and zucchini--quite plain, but satisfying.

The reward of a socked in day in Florence is the contrast between the umbrellas and the sculptures and buildings. Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is the second largest cathedral in the world. It can hold up to 3,000 people.

The octagonal Baptistry's bronze door, "Gates of Paradise" by Ghiberti:

Europeans love their gelato, even on a cold, blustery rain day.

Leather markets pop up under tarps in squares and alleyways:

We thought the wee green, three-wheeled "trucks" were cute. Check out the police uniforms:

One of the most famous sights in Florence: bridges and the Arno River lined by bright apartment buildings:

Perseus and Medusa outside Uffizi Gallery:

Fountain of Neptune:

More to come.