Italy| Day 8 Florence

Friday, June 26, 2015

Le ore del mattino hanno l'oro in bocca
The hours of the morning have gold in their mouth

After a some leisurely time spent enjoying our sun-filled terrace, we walked a few blocks from our apartment and found the neighborhood Cafe.  Cafes like this are everywhere and I've yet to find a "bad" one in Italy. They are usually small and intimate with their own unique personality. You can stand at the bar and read a paper while drinking your tiny cup of espresso, like the Italians do. Or, you can grab a small little bistro table and sit and savor your cappuccino and cornetto. 
Each morning we saw some of the same people and it's common for these places to have regulars who enjoy a coffee in the morning, a shot of espresso after lunch, and maybe a small bite and appertivo in the afternoon.  

After our coffees we walked through the outdoor San Lorenzo market.  Stall after stall is packed with leather and "leather" goods like- belts, handbags, scarfs, and every kind of souvenir you can think of.  It's a crowded chaotic scene with tourists and vendors aggressively negotiating and seeking bargain deals. 

From the flea markets to high end luxury brands Florence is a shopping mecca.  


Or maybe this one?

When we left GUCCI the security guard gave us a handled bag for some groceries we had bought earlier. Even if it was only a paper bag and not a handbag, it was fun to pretend we were walking out with something! 

After our morning of browsing we hit the one of the highest rated food destinations in Florence  All'Antico Vinaio.  

All'antico Vinaio is a tiny, crowded sandwich shop that shows how even Italian "fast food" is just awesome.

A handwritten wood board menu is passed from person to person as you wait in a line that goes down the block. Having not a clue what some of it was (it's all in Italian) we just asked the guys at the counter to make us something good. 

For 5 Euros you get an enormous sandwich stuffed with cured meats, artichoke, eggplant, arugula, tomatoes, basil, olives, fennel, cheese, and/or truffle cream served on freshly baked ciabatta bread.  They are almost impossible to finish and oh so good. 

  Just around the corner from All'Antico Vinaio is Piazza della Signoria, probably our most visited and one of my most favorite piazzas in Florence.  Piazza della Signoria is an L shaped piazza in front of the Palazzo Vecchio. Also surrounding the square is the Loggia dei Lanzi, and the Uffizi Gallery.

 What makes this piazza so special is the incredible sculptures.  In most places in the world these would be in a museum, but here they are all out in the open for everyones enjoyment. 

My personal favorite Giambologna's The Rape of the Sabine Women depicts the legend of the Romans stealing women to propagate their empire.  The Roman is in the act of stealing this man's wife.  Their powerful last glance is full of drama and anguish. 

The piazza also has the GUCCI Museum and cafe. 

Even the sugars in the cafe are little GUCCI monograms. 

After the sandwiches and art we were ready to finally do some leather shopping. 

 Leonardo Shoes are handmade in Florence.  We were well taken care of and walked out with a few pairs each. 

After shoe shopping we enjoyed sitting in a cafe on Piazza della Signoria and enjoying my favorite drink in Italy, the Spritz.  

Perfect for warm weather the Spritz is low in alcohol and equally refreshing. 
3 parts Prosecco 
2 parts Aperol 
1 part soda water

Walking the streets the Gelato displays were works of art themselves. Not looking at the price I made the mistake of ordering a small dish that ended up costing me 5 Euros.  

Hands down any day I would take a leg of cured meat over gelato. 

At home a pound of this goodness can run upwards of $20.  In Italy you can take the entire cut home for 39 Euros. 

Although they are disappearing in Italy you can still do your grocery shopping at small individual shops skilled and dedicated to their individual craft.  Purchase your vegetables at the open air market, then stop in at Panetteria for bread, and another store for your cheese and meat. 

One of my favorite parts of Florence is walking along the Arno River.  We never made it to Piazza Michelangelo (the hill in the background).  It's suppose to be one of the top things to do in Florence and sadly we just ran out of time.   

We ate dinner at a highly rated crazy art filled restaurant called La Cucina del Garga

You are encouraged to draw on the table and the best customer art is displayed in another part of the restaurant.

I'm missing the artistic gene but Brian's was pretty good!

Tomorrow, our last full day in Italy we finally get to see the incredible David by Michelangelo.

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