Weekend in Florence

It's weird to get up one morning and say, "We're driving to Florence today." But that's what we did (and have done three times in our lives!). Henry wanted badly to see it again, having learned so much more about the art and music of the time in his Humanities class last year, so we indulged. I found a great hotel that was affordable—four people can get expensive because you need to either get two rooms, or one huge room—easy to find, nearby parking, clean (really clean), friendly, and included breakfast.

These guys loudly bade us farewell as we left.

The entrance to our hotel. HUGE.

The boys all went to the Uffizi for our 2:30 reservation (made on-line to avoid waiting in line—the only way to go), which we timed perfectly as we arrived in Florence about an hour before. It's about a three-hour drive, when all is said and done. But we left at 10 am so I'm not sure how the math works with that. Whatever. Lots of one-way streets require a few zigs and zags. We use the iPad to navigate which is a Godsend. I, having been to the Uffizi and not needing to do it again, spent the time shopping and wandering. Heavenly. But as the skies darkened and a few drops of rain fell, I knew I needed to find shelter, and I needed to do it ahead of everyone else so I didn't end up in a giant tourist trap bar and/or a giant deluge. So I didn't time this particularly well, ending up sitting for an hour with a glass of prosecco before any more rain fell! I had to then spend another hour, this time with coffee, while the rain poured down. I got to watch two weddings while doing so. I was in  a major-league tourist piazza, but the prices were surprisingly low! Score :)

My walk, pre-storm.
My shelter. The waiter offered. I accepted.

The men are a whole different breed here. Primping and preening openly is completely acceptable.

This little blonde, curly-haired British girl was busy picking up the little crepe paper cut-out hearts they toss when the bride and groom emerge a married couple. (Lots of these weddings are British "destination" weddings.)

If you look closely in the arch you can see the handsful of birdseed they throw at the bride and groom, and a pigeon, naturally.

This is another bride. This one, Italian.

A man gives his dog a lift (in the basket of the bike, under the umbrella).

I met the boys at the Statue of David copy right near the Uffizi, and coincidentally, a stone's throw from my café. (There are three Davids in Florence. One real, and two copies.)

A copy. Could've fooled me!

We walked a bit more and stopped for a bite at a bar. This is where Fred ordered a beer and mistakenly got a $22 LITER of beer. Last time I saw a beer that big was at the Hofbrauhaus in Munich during Oktoberfest. It was insane. We made the kids drink some :)

Back at the hotel we rested and prepared for dinner at Il Contadina, a place we had discovered years ago that we loved. The owner made special meals for the kids because they were so little. (Italians are very solicitous to their kids' desires. Not mean like us Irish Catholics!) Anyway, we got there only to find they are closed on weekends :(  So we continued down this street because it was a non-touristy area. Or so we thought. The first two restaurants we came to had charming outdoor seating, but not-so-charming Americans loudly talking about things like steak to their waiters. We moved on until we found an indoor and brightly-lit place. The kind of place we would walk right by at home, but here, in Italy, bright lights inside a restaurant are the norm. We looked in and saw only Italians. We had arrived at our destination. Food was great. Staff was all family.

Our closed Il Contadina.
Crazy place on the way. Space Electronic Discoteque.

My meal. Spaghetti Puttanesca.

Henry's pizza. With hot dogs and French fries!

We had to get Henry's college ID photo shot and emailed to the school the next day.
God only knows what they think I was saying.
Next morning we walked around more... a LOT, actually, and left at 3:00 for home. Due for dinner at 7 pm at the home of the Primavera/Basile family, our Italian friends.

Owen and his social network.

Nothing like a little rain to clear a place out.
There's a woman way up in the window. You can be sure you will see a face in a window at any given time, often attached to a phone because the thick walls make for really bad reception indoors.


The well-earned view from the top.