Europe 2012: Day 58 — Rome to Florence

You know you are in Florence when you see the Doumo! (Italy)

Friday, 8/03/12

Woke at 7am.   It is sunny and hot!

We packed our bags and enjoyed our last breakfast at Hotel Torre Argentina.   This was a great hotel – the room was large and comfortable, the wireless worked almost flawlessly, and the breakfasts were good.    The receptionist called us a taxi and we arrived at the train station in plenty of time to find our train and settle in.  We are traveling first class again, thanks to our EuroRail pass.   We should be in Florence (just north of Rome) in about two hours.

What did we learn from our visit in Rome:

  • Rome is truly the “Eternal City.”  I don’t think I will ever get bored with at the history this place has to offer.  The people are intense, but for the most part they are warm, friendly, and helpful.
  • Don’t visit Rome in July or August — I beg you!   Don’t add to the tourism misery if you can help it!  If we had to do it all over again, we would have visited in  April/May or September/October went the weather is cooler and the crowds are less.

Why are we going to Florence?  We like Florence!

An uneventful train ride to Florence past fields of sunflowers (Italy).

We arrived in Florence around 11:30am.  From the train station, it was an easy 15 minute walk past the Duomo to our hotel Tourist House Ghiberti.  It was like going through a maze to get to our hotel – we press a buzzer, we enter through  a heavy wooden security door, we walk through an electronically locked iron gate, we go up a old elevator that looks like a wire crate, we press the buzzer to another heavy security door, and finally enter the hotel on the second floor.   Whew!  It made me wonder about the neighborhood.   There is a hospital next door, I wonder if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

We checked in and got our 15 minute orientation to our room.   The owner of the B&B, Claudio, showed us how to use the lights (activated and deactivated by our room card), the air conditioner’s remote control, the in-room computer/router, the TV, the TV satellite (preset to England stations and the Olympics just for us), the mini-bar, and a device that plugs into the wall to destroy mosquitos – lovely!  We are ready for lunch.

Claudio recommended lunch, Zio Gigi, a small resturant right around the corner from the hotel.This is a neighborhood place and it was packed when we arrive.   But we are lucky, two people vacate their table as we walk in so we are seated immediately by a young women who raps on the table and orders us “Here!”.   We immediately get English menus with the specials of the day.   We order the special of the day for 8 Euros – pasta, roasted fish, and one side.

Our food arrives in no time, and it is excellent!  My DH’s pasta has a spicy red sauce with beef.   My pasta has a creamy pesto.   The fish is really an assortment of fish – squid, clams, and some sort of white fish all roasted in olive oil and fresh herbs — a simple and tasty dish!  For my side I ordered a salad, my DH ordered the white beans.   My DH was a trooper – we finished all his lunch and part of mine!

During the meal, the owner (a big Italian man) would break into song – you could hear him from the kitchen.   Claudio warned this would happen — he does this when regulars and friends entered the restaurant.   He was doing a fair bit of singing today.    He sang well in a deep tenor.

Zio Gigi — Our first lunch in Florence, Italy.

After lunch, we went back to the hotel to book tours.   This will be a busy week for us!

Later in the afternoon, we walked around Florence.   Here are some pictures:

The front of the Doumo (the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore), just opposite the Tourist Information office (Florence, Italy).

Tired horses resting in the shade of a stone building next to the Duomo — it is nearly 100 degrees in the afternoon in Florence, Italy.

A street in Florence, Italy.

Florence has a sweet tooth and there are candy stores all over the place! (Italy)

Fruit candies (made from almond paste) are a Florence specialty. I think they are just beautiful! (Italy)

Panforte (Florence’s version of fruit cake) are dense and delicious cakes! It is a popular snack and you can find it everywhere! (Italy)

Gellied fruits look like jewels!  (Florence, Italy)

The main square in the city of Florence — Piazza della Signoria (Italy).

The Wild Boar is the symbol of Florence (I rubbed its nose for good luck). (Italy)

There are lots of wonderful tapestries for sale in Florence! (Italy)

Arches that run along the Arno River in Florence. (Italy)

The Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy. This is the famous Medieval stone bridge over the Arno River that is still noted for having shops built within it. Butchers initially occupied the shops (the river provided an easy way to get rid of the waste).   Today the shops are mostly jewelers, art dealers and souvenir sellers.

One of the gold jewelry shops on the Pointe Viciho Bridge, (Florence, Italy)

Lots of wonderful pottery is also for sale in Florence. I especially liked this piece with a scene of Tuscany. (Florence, Italy)

Oh, and leather. Lots and lots and lots of leather products can be bought in Florence. I find the handbags to be especially tempting! (Florence, Italy)

By dinner time, we were still digesting lunch.   We decided to skip dinner and to go to a concert held in one of the local churches in town at 9:30pm.   Two young musicians played two harpsichords — they were brilliant considering the heat and humidity in the church.    Halfway through the concert, one of the harpsichords had a problem — we heard more banging of the keys than we heard than sweet clear tones.  This was annoying.   But they fixed the instrument and continued to the approval and applause of all 18 people in the audience.

The musicians. The concert was excellent inspite of the humidity and the small audience. These two trained for years and years and you could tell that they loved playing the harpsicord!  They were excellent!  (Florence, Italy)

Around 10:30pm, we were back at the hotel and ready for bed in a cool, comfortable room.

Quote of the day:   “This is our best meal so far!”  — DH in regards to our 8 Euro lunch.


One thought on “Europe 2012: Day 58 — Rome to Florence

  1. I have said over and over again, “I’d love to go to
    Florence for the art”….now, I don’t know….it’s a toss
    up….go for the art or the SWEETS (yummmm eeee!)

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