Saturday, September 21, 2013

DATELINE: Florence (5)

POSTING NOTE:  I didn't get this posted last night for two reasons.  First, the battery on the camera needed to be charged so  I couldn't download pictures of the day.  Second, I was so exhausted I gave up and turned in.  But today is another day and so here's yesterday's story along with today's.

The more you think you're getting to know this place the easier it seems to be to get lost and see things you've never seen before.  So it was today.  We had a long, exhausting day but we did get somne things done.  First, this morning Mr. C went down to Porta Romana to do some vital shopping ~ water and wine ~ while I tidied up the place.  Then we headed out:  our destination was the Galleria della Academia to get entry tickets.  It looks like we'll get in Sunday morning at 10 AM.  I tried to get tickets on-line but there is an outrageous "processing fee" that was enough to buy us a good bottle of wine, so we trekked down, stood in line, and came away with what we could get.  There were massive lines all over the street; people waiting who already had tickets, people who wanted in without prior tickets, people waiting to buy tickets for the future!  On our bus ride yesterday the population stat for Florence was 500,000.  That may be the permanent residents but there are probably 2 million visitors and 3 million motor scooters!

After buying our tickets we started the great hunt for the Mercato Centrale, the big indoor market that sells all kinds of great food; piles of porcini mushrooms in several varieties like fresh, dry, smoked, brined or dry-salted.

 And they're so big.  When we can get them in our farmers' market they are tiny little things that cost about $35 a pound.  We buy 3 or 4 tiny pieces and think we're living high.

Olive oils galore, cheeses, beautiful breads, dried and candied fruits, a zillion different pastas of every size, shape, color and flavor, and much more.

an entire shop for olive oil

dried fruits

pastas forever
 Circling the market are stalls of vendors selling leather goods ~ purses,  belts, jackets, luggage, wallets ~ and scarves, table linens, some clothing, plus the usual touristy things.  I found just what I was looking for, a red purse.  It was on my "must buy in Florence" list,  I'm also looking for a leather notebook with that beautiful marbled paper that this city is so famous for.  I found a shop but since it was after 2 PM it was closed.  Tomorrow, I hope.

Shopping always makes me hungry so we turned our attention to finding a restaurant.  This is the one we chose, the Trattoria ZaZa.  This place is famous for its ravioli with walnut sauce, which Mr. C ordered.  He gave it about a B-, but ate every bite nonetheless.  We went early, sat outside in the lovely warm afternoon, sipped a little wine and marveled at our good fortune.  At a table next to us were three women traveling together.  They were on their way back to Rome to catch a cruise ship for the Greek isles.

They were having the best time together.  Turns out the one on the right is a graduate of UC Davis.  They're everywhere!  On our way back to catch the bus home we passed this ornate gelateria with great mounds of beautiful confections.

 I was inspecting the goods when a fellow said to me, "Are you a tourist?"  I replied, "We're all tourists here!"  He agreed and said he'd never seen so many people in one place.  I couldn't agree more.

We dragged back to the apartment at about 3:30 after having walked at least 10 miles all over the city.  And these streets are not easy to walk on.  They are mostly large uneven cobblestones, perfect for spraining ankles.  My poor feet was so sore when I got home but fortunately no blisters.  Short of having a foot massage I devised this sweet relief.  Worked perfectly.

Let's see, what's on for tomorrow.  Another trip to the bank ~ if we can hold it down to 100 E a day we figure we're doing a good job (!!), take the #13 bus up to the top of the hill so we can walk down again, find someplace to have lunch or dinner, mail some post cards ~ POSTAL ALERT:  part of the gross expenditure has been for stamps.  It costs 2 E ($2.68) to mail a post card to the US.  The card itself  costs only 0.40 E!

FRIDAY EDITION:  Florence (6)

Nothing worked out as it should have today.  All the bus routes are detoured all over the city because of a bicycle race.  But we did get one to take us down to the central bus station so we could buy our tickets to Sienna for Monday.  Turns iut we really didn't need to do this but who's to know?  Back out on the street to find the #13 bus to take us up Via Michaelangelo so we could walk home.  Well, that was a complete disaster and we ended up walking about the same distance as the desired walk route just looking for the bus to take us there.

This is the end of the walkway that would bring us out by our gate entrance.  You can see why it's so inviting.

 This statue of Romulus and Remus with their wolf Mom marks the entrance to the pathway.  Sorry about the no parking sign; couldn't get an angle without it.

So we came home instead, went to a couple of the local markets for some dinner goodies, and made it up the hill before succumbing to sun stroke!  We did two loads of wash, had a lovely lunch in the garden, including these fabulous roasted Roma tomatoes, very unlike the ones we can get in the US.  These actually have both flavor and juice!

The rest of today is going to be spent packing, catching up on the IHT, resting the feet and the brain for tomorrow's last assault on the city and the Galleria (10 AM reservation).  We don't know what the bus schedules might be so we might take a taxi instead.  It would take us about 1 hr. +/- to walk from here and I just don't think my feet are up to it.  Instead, I'd like to see if we can find the right bus after the show and do the downhill walk.  Either that or save it for next time . . .

1 comment:

mary ann said...

I just can't tell you how much I'm enjoying these posts and photos. Thank you, SBC.