Friday, July 29, 2011

Cinghiale, Ferragamo and Monkey Business! Oh My!

Florence! This is one of my favorite cities in the world (at least before this trip…) and I was so excited to be back in the city! I was even more excited that James and Sofia could experience the culture, history, and fun atmosphere of Florence. Although… that was the LAST time I will go to Florence in July!! The city was packed wall to wall with tourists!!
Fun facts about Florence:
·         Michelangelo’s David is located in the Galleria dell’ Accademia
·         Florence is the capital of Tuscany
·         1.5 million people live in the city and its suburbs
·         The old city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Sight
·         Florence was the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance
·         The Medici family ruled Florence in the 15thcentury and became the hereditary dukes of the area in the 16th and 17th centuries. They were patrons of the arts and commissioned works from DaVinci, Michelangelo and Botticelli.
·         Gucci was founded in Florence
·         Machiavelli was born and lived in Florence

James and Sofia with the Ponte Vecchio
Ok, enough with the history lesson. As we were walking into Florence, we were still recovering from our amazing dinner the previous night and kept laughing about “gallo nero grande”… We were soon to discover more about Cinghiale (boar) which would take over the fun of the gallo nero. One of the specialties of Tuscany is cinghiale with tagliatelle and you can find boar everywhere (at least the meat). Stores even have stuffed wild boars in their shops to display this crazy animal. They are very proud of the cinghiale.

admiring the jewelry

We started out on the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) where all of the jewelers have their shops. This is a mecca for tourists and since it was a gorgeous summer day… we could hardly walk without bumping into someone. Sofia and I were eying up some beautiful jewelry and I also showed her how Italian men are romantic by leaving “locks of love” on the bridge. This is an old tradition and it seems that the city is trying to stop it from continuing. Men bring their girlfriends to the bridge with a lock (sometimes with their names on it), they lock it to the bridge and then throw away the key into the river to symbolize their commitment to each other. The city has been removing these locks and has even removed the big rings that people would attach them to. As I’ve learned about this tradition, it’s something that I see everywhere in Italy. Bridges in all cities have the “locks of love,” you just have to look for them.

Medusa and David
Statue of Cosmo Medici in front of the
Palazzo Vecchio


Medusa and Aslan

Dracula in Florence??

Me and Asia

Moving on from the bridge we started to walk towards the Ferragamo museum and headquarters and parted ways with James and Sofia. Sofia had plans to meet up with her cousin while in Florence and they also had tickets to see David, so they were off to do their thing. In the meantime, Josh and I went into Ferragamo and enjoyed the fun displays of vintage shoes as well as current designs. I fell in love with an amazing python leather purse that was brushed to look like suede. It was amazing!! It was also over 4,000 euros…. So I can look from afar and dream. It was on this day that I realized I had a love for python purses and for Ferragamo.

After visiting Ferragamo we were famished, so we decided to search for a place to grab lunch. It was difficult though because there were so many people in the city that day!!! It was frustrating because all of the restaurants were full, and the one we found was so busy that we sat for about 20 minutes before our waiter came over to get our order, then another 30 minutes before receiving our food. At that point I was so hungry I almost ate my napkin! But all ended well and after we ate we continued our day in Florence. Weaving through the cruise ship tour groups (yes- cruise ship tour groups, and no- Florence isn’t on the sea), we went to the main piazza where Medusa is strategically placed near a replica of the statue of David. It is also right outside of the Palazzo Vecchio and the Uffizi museum. We had some more fun with Asia, and also admired the amazing statues, then decided to head to the Palazzo Medici Riccardi. I’ve read quite a bit about the Medici family in a biography of Catherine de Medici and I was interested in learning more about how the family lived. The palace is huge and it definitely is a home for an aristocratic family. There was an amazing hall that looked like it was modeled after the hall of mirrors at Versailles where a business meeting was taking place. Personally, if I was in a room that amazing for work, I would not be able to pay attention! There was too much to look at and the artwork on the walls was amazing!!

Entrance to the Palazzo Medici

the Great Hall with the business meeting

Office in the Palazzo

One of the many sitting rooms

our enormous glasses of Limoncello

So, after that, we met up with James and Sofia again and grabbed a pre-dinner drink. We sat down at a fun little bar on one of the side streets and Sofia and I decided on Limoncello (typically an after dinner drink, but I thought I would introduce it to Sofia and she was interested in trying it). This typically comes in a very small glass about the size of a shot, but somehow we ended up with half of the Limoncello bottle in two glasses! Sofia’s cousin joined us for drinks and then we grabbed pizza at a very fun place!! The pizza chef typically makes pizza’s in the shape of a heart for the women, and normal round pizzas for the men. On our visit I received a circle pizza and Josh received the heart shaped pizza. Was the pizza chef trying to tell Josh something??

Drinks with Sofia's cousin (they are deep in conversation
and speaking rapid Spanish!)

Gay Pizza?

After all of that, we were exhausted and headed back to the b&b. We realized that James and Sofia had a huge room up in the old attic of the house with large support beams that you could hang from. We told James that if we heard any monkeys that night we would know why! There may have been some monkey business going on… J

The next day: My birthday!! …and San Gimignano 

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