Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A foodie's playground

Oh the food!!! After breakfast this morning, we walked a short ways to the tourist trap shopping spot - the open air street market at San Lorenzo. So much fun! They had beautuful leather goods, shoes, jewelry, and lots of scarves. We picked up some great gifts there and then walked into the enclosed Mercato Centrale. It was full of food stalls and it was lunchtime - bingo! We walked around a bit, then settled on the following: ciabatta bread, assorted olives, a hunk of Parmigiano Reggiano (which is not expensive here at all), some wonderful soft gorgonzola, salami, prosciutto de Parma, roasted bell peppers, fresh artichoke hearts (one of my favorite delicacies here), and some dried fruit. It is so easy to buy things as all the merchants speak English well, and the prices are good. We found a nice place to sit in the Piazza and had an impromtu picnic. It was utterly delightful and I love that the kids enjoyed all those foods. And as a bonus, we have about 1/2 pound of leftover Parmigiano in our hotel fridge. Be very jealous!

Then something amazing happened as we left the piazza... we saw Rick Steves!! He was shooting one of his travel videos, but we had to interrupt him, meet him, and get our picture taken with him. Rich was so pumped and even asked him to sign the Rick Steves' travel book on Florence that he was carrying. He has been reading that travel books for months. I'm glad that Rich could have his day made by such an event!

Next we headed over to the Uffizzi gallery, and checked out some pre-Renaissance and Renaissance art. Oh, and a lot of naked statues. Too many naked statues in my opinion, really (well, I suppose one is too much...). We didn't go to the Acadamia to see Michaelangelo's David, but rather just glanced at the exact replica for free near the Uffizzi. I know it's art, but it's still ackward.

We then hit the famous Ponte Vecchio which is a bridge lined with tons of jewelry stores, and we window shopped. Florence is such a fascinating place to take in, it's pretty much the oldest place I've ever been. Around 7:00 pm, we made our way over to a restaurant that was
recommended to us by one of Rich's colleagues as a good sampling of family owned, rustic Tuscan cooking. The place was small and hopping, but we got seated right away. In the kitchen were three ladies that looked like Italian Grandmas! After getting some help decifering the menu, we ordered all our food. Surprisingly, they brought out our pasta dishes right away, and then when we were finished we were brought our salads. Interestingly, the salads weren't as expected - insalata pomodore that Drew and Stephanie ordered was just a plate of tomatoes, and my arugula salad was just that- a plate of arugula with no dressing, served with a lemon wedge. The pasta dishes were simple but good. And the fresh buffala mozzarella that I ordered rocked! The food was cheap and good, but just not what we expected. Very plain, but a good experience.

After yet another stop at a gelateria, we made it back to the hotel. We have done a lot of walking! I really am kicking myself for not bringing a pair of sandals and some cropped pants - the weather has been so warm and I can't stand wearing socks and jeans. I may hit a place tomorrow and get me some nice leather Italian sandals. Arrivederci for now!

Isn't it beautiful?

Stephanie, Drew & Emma taking a granita break after walking around a warm, crowded and stuffy art gallery.

Breathtaking Firenze.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

You know you are killing me right?! These posts are amazing!!! I'm drooling right now. So happy you can enjoy this as a family :)