Florence (Italian: Firenze) is the capital of the region of Tuscany in Italy, with a population of about 366,500. The city is considered a cultural, artistic and architectural gem and the birthplace of Renaissance.
We managed to navigate the rail system with little issue. Travel days are always a little stressful as we are always excited about where we are heading to next. The most difficult task of taking a train is that you have to lift your luggage up stairs of the train’s coach. When you get off the train, your luggage could be buried under other passenger’s luggage. People are pushing to get off, people are pushing to get on, impatient to begin their journey. A few of us had luggage buried. I am thankful I traveled lighter this time.
The train took 1-1/2 hours and traveled at 248 km/hour. Very fast! We arrived at Firenze station at 11:22 am and hopped into a cab only to be told we didn’t need to take one. The taxi drivers are amazing in Italy. Many don’t even accept tips. He unloaded our bags, and we rolled our luggage over to the Club Hotel. The man behind the counter apologized that the hotel had undergone some extensive renovations and that we would be upgraded to a sister hotel. We walked around the block to The Style Florence. Our rooms were not ready until 2:00 pm so the decision was to grab some lunch. The recommendations from the hotel were not what we wanted. We really enjoy places where the locals eat.
We navigated the narrow cobblestone streets passed prosciutto hanging in the windows, cheese and leather butchers, leather goods shops and bookstores until we arrived at Trattoria Marione. The handsome, charismatic server dropped off bread, olive oil, and then this lovely barley salad compliments of the house. We spent the next few minutes attempting to break down the ingredients. It was extremely good and all of us vowed we would make it when we returned home. Very yummy. We decided to eat lighter today and 3 of us ordered Zuppa Riboletta which is a Tuscan vegetable bread soup. ANOTHER OMG FOOD MOMENT!! It came to the table all warm, thick and rich. Accompanied by a lovely beer and you are transported to heaven. I had to use the washroom and headed downstairs. I found a booth open and headed in. When I came out to the sink, much to my surprise was a man standing next to me. Co-ed bathrooms are quite common in Europe. I was so trying to act cool and not horrified. LOL We buongiorno’d each other, and then he asked me where I was from. Answering Canada, he said. “Aaaah Can-a-da!” He had these amazing eyes and a wicked grin. Turns out he was the boss and as cliche as it is, he told me his name was Fabio. I had a direct view of him behind the bar, and he winked and smiled at me during lunch. What a flirt! Very fun. As we were about to leave, the glasses of limoncello came over from Fabio. We cheered and promised we would be back for dinner. We made reservations for 7:00 pm, early by Italian standards. We have to get up at 6:00 am for a tour to Cinque Terre and thought it best we eat earlier. Jo-Ann and I spotted our favourite meal on the menu Osso Bucco and knew we had to come back. Besides, Fabio kissed me on two cheeks held my face in his hands and made me promise to come back. Reservations under the name, CANADA. Ciao ciao!
Since the room wasn’t ready until 2:00 pm, we happily walked through the city of Florence and came to a beautiful piazza with a carousel. I thought it would be nice to see it at night. Many restaurants were lining the square, with vendors and gypsies trying to get your money. You say no grazie a lot.
Jen and I lost Jo-Ann and Yordie and continued along until we came to the most amazing cathedral called the Basilica di Santa Maria di Fiore. The pictures don’t do it justice. Jen and I walked around it and took many pics. It was a 2 hour wait to get in today. We will come back.
Time to head back and check in. We figured the ladies knew their way back and check in was at 2:00 pm. Sure enough they made it back just after we got to our room or should I say suite! They certainly did upgrade us and the rooms are beautifully modern with black, white and red motif. Michelangelo’s David is on the wall, a beautiful reminder of the art we will soon see.