Friday, August 31, 2012

Travels In Italy - Day 3

Our last day in Florence was perhaps our best, not only because we’ve adjusted to our jet lag, but also because we’re finding our Euro groove, waking up relaxed and rested, and enjoying the food and good vibes of Italy - La Dolce Vita, as they say.

The hotel we’re staying at is really nice, and we’ll be staying here on our last day in Italy on our return home. The place is clean and the people are very friendly, and though it’s not fancy, it’s comfortable and in a great location, which is key to most things in life. It is very centrally located near the Duomo and all the other great sites. Then again, everything here is within walking distance. The family that runs the Inn is very friendly, I’m guessing several generations making things work. The elder grandmother is incredibly friendly, and she kept telling us how nice our family is, mainly because I think A&N are well mannered and polite. Plus, they’re cute and stylish enough to pass as Euro kids, especially A.

One of my favorite things about traveling in Europe is staying at Inn or B&Bs and heading into the dining area for breakfast. It’s always a wonderful mix of cultures, and you hear all sorts of languages being spoken. There are even a fair number of Americans staying in this hotel. I also love trying out the different foods that at least seem typical of a Euro breakfast, though I’m sure they cater to tourists and gear the food to what they think they want. Either way, I love going and have a cappuccino and croissant, then some fresh fruit, finished with some muesli. I have to confess, in classic American style, I like to engorge myself on all you can eat breakfast foods, but it’s so counter to how the Europeans eat. In lieu of all that food just waiting to be eaten, they seem to get by with a croissant and a cup of espresso. Then they’re off to face the day. I feel like such a pig, but such is life.

On our last day in Florence, we went to an exhibit on Leonardo da Vinci, who wasn’t born here, but really thrived here since he was such an integral figure in the Renaissance. The exhibit had all sorts of information about the man, not to mention dozens of hands-on exhibits of his inventions. The guy was amazing, especially considering the time. Just goes to show you what happens when you don’t spend all your time watching TV and playing video games.

Naturally, since the show involved gadgets and playing with them, A&N were right at home, especially N. They both had engineer in their blood, but that’s especially true for N. The boy loves machines. There was also a documentary on Leonardo that was very informative about the Dark Ages and the Renaissance, which was nice - a good homeschool lesson.

After the Leonardo show, we headed over to the Basilica di Santa Croce, which is a cathedral where numerous notable Italian people are buried, including Michelangelo, Dante, and Machiavelli. The cathedral was magnificent as usual, incredible amounts of opulence and wealth. It’s striking how prominent Italy was during this time in history.

From there, we stopped at a really nice restaurant called Cantinetta dei Verrazzano and had what I think was our nicest meal in Florence, though we were a little taken by surprise, which I never like. We made the mistake of asking the waiter for suggestions, and he brought us more food than we would normally eat, though it was an excellent variety of breads (bruschetta, focaccia), local cheeses, and meats. It came out a little pricey, as well, but what a nice meal. I need to lighten up when it comes to money, but I can’t.

After a big lunch, we finished our day over that Medici House, which is one of the houses owned by the Medici family who controlled much of Italy, and all of Florence, during the Renaissance. They were the bankers who controlled all the money and their wealth was unfathomable. Their home was bigger than most castles, and their lifestyles reflected it. Just these incredible rooms filled with masterpieces. I believe Napoleon moved into this house when he conquered Italy.

By the end of the Medici House, we were pretty worn out, and it was getting late. Time to get back to our hotel and get ready for our big trip to the Tuscan countryside.

Until then, thanks for reading.

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