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What a day in Florence, Italy!
What an incredible day in Florence, Italy! We got up this morning and met Jonathan and Issak in front of the Duomo at 8am. I’m not even sure where to begin! (By the way, we met them on AirBnb!)
We were early enough that there weren’t too many people out. We went all around town with the two of them and got so many great shots, formal, emotional, silly, casual… We stopped and had cappuccino and met an Australian and took photos there. We took photos in front of the outdoor David statue. We went across the Ponte Vecchio and took photos. We took photos looking at a map and photos in front of churches and so many incredibly fun photos! I’ll include a picture or two here, but if you click here, you can see the best pictures from our photoshoot!
Shopping and lunch
After the photoshoot, we went back to Ponte Vecchio and walked the shops.
We decided to try and find a gold cross for our friend Randy. We searched several stores with okay feelings about them, but we knew we’d found the right shop when we walked into the beautiful store, Bernardo Antichita.
Why this store? On the wall were two photographs from the early 1900s of the store with the storekeeper’s grandfather out front. This is a family business, which is hard to find in tourist areas nowadays. His prices were much better, and he was wonderfully kind. We bought Randy’s cross, and I think it is infused with the good feelings from this place.
Further on, we found a small pizza place off of a side street. The food was good, but the people were also very kind. In fact, after we ate they brought out a danish and ice cream for us for free, and then followed that up with a bowl of small plums, perhaps cherries. Either way, they were both good, and we had a relaxing lunch after all our walking from the photoshoot earlier in the day. We purchased some souvenirs, got some gelato, and then went back to the room to cool off!
We napped until 4pm and will be meeting Cecilia at 6:30. We met her at the airport in Miami and chatted while we waited for our delayed flight, and I can’t wait to say hello and see her in her element.
Before we met, we went t-shirt shopping and went to a leather shop. Paul has looked in a lot of leather shops for a toiletry bag, and we finally found one. It took some back and forth negotiating, but he ended up with a bag he likes at a decent price.
We put our items up in the room, and then Paul and I went across the street to the Museo de San Marco. We thought we might be able to see some highlights in the museum before we met Cecilia, but it was closed.
In a strange way, I’m glad it was closed, as we got to go into the basilica of San Lorenzo instead. The church was absolutely lovely inside. Many people were there praying together, so I’m guessing it was evening vespers.
I love art history and the history of the Church, and I’m so lucky to have found this gem. The church was filled with beautiful murals, some by Fra Angelico, and with lovely statues and serene architecture. They had a beautiful statue of Christ with the crown of thorns, a pretty Holy Family and Mary and Joseph. The Mary was impressive and had such a peaceful face. She was decorated by many rosaries and had silver hearts behind her.
Near Mary was a side altar, but it was strange… there was a body in it! Apparently, we were at the burial place of Saint Lawrence who died in the 1500s, and there he was with us! He was incorruptible, and he might be the first incorruptible body I’ve seen.
Our time was up, though- off to meet Cecilia and continue our day in Florence, Italy!
We met Cecilia out in San Marco Square. She looked happy and radiant and had been helping some elderly friends of hers after work.
She wanted to take us to get coffee in a place with a beautiful view. We went to a museum nearby, which houses a cafe on the top floor with a nice view of the Duomo and rooftops of the city. Unfortunately, the cafe was being rented out for an event so we couldn’t be served.
We moved onto a new place, a museum Museo Novecento (http://www.museonovecento.it/en/) and school, which housed a cafe upstairs in a historic building. Unfortunately, that cafe, the Caffetteria delle Oblate, was closing when we arrived, so she showed us around the building.
The building was built in the 1200s on top of an old 4th century Church and was originally a hostel for pilgrims. Later it was converted into a convent, where sisters tended to the sick. Later it was converted into a school and the museum. Cecilia showed us the washbasins, which were like long, stone troughs, where the sisters would clean the linens of blood and other fluids. These were located in the periodicals section of the school library, which was very modern, and of interest to us partially because Paul is a librarian. We also found an Annunciation mural upstairs in another part of the library’s reading room that was from the 1400s. I feel like everywhere we go in Florence is something precious and well-preserved.
Where to now?
Without much luck, Cecilia decides to take us into the center of activity and recommend a few good restaurants for the evening. We walked back to the Piazza della Repubblica, where we had been earlier in the day to get our photos taken. The city was coming alive with families out for an evening stroll and street performers.
We chatted on the way and compared some funny things between our two cultures. For instance, she was surprised when she traveled and found that dryers were common in households throughout the US. We talked about histories and cities and life and food and had a great time.
She recommended a restaurant where her daughter used to work, ensuring that it was family-owned, clean, and not just for tourists. Before she left us, however, she told us about a boar statue around the corner. Goodbye, Cecilia! Hopefully, we will meet again on another trip!
Before we sat down for dinner, we went around the corner to the boar statue. The legend holds that if you rub the boar’s nose, you’ll return to Florence one day. Naturally, we rubbed the nose, shiny from thousands of travelers before us. He is located in the Piazza del Marcato Nuovo.
We ate at the restaurant Cecilia recommended, La Grotta Guelfa. The Bruschetta was delicious, the table wine was very good, and Paul and dad got grilled chicken and roasted potatoes, which sounds plain, but were some of the best they’d ever had. I got a mushroom risotto and it probably is the best risotto I’ve ever had. It was creamy and rich but not too heavy, like someone took chicken and rice and then made it so delicious and mushroomy and a little cheesy and reduced all the liquid into goodness with a few tomatoes. The price was very reasonable, as well, for 60 Euro, and we had a nice outside view to watch Florence at dusk.
Tomorrow we have to pack up. It has been an incredible day in Florence, Italy and I can’t wait to come back. I hope to be able to spend at least a week here at some point in my life, and I have to admit that seeing all the universities with programs here makes me want to return back to school just for the excuse of studying for a semester here. So far on the trip, I’ve felt a little bit rushed, and now that I’m in Florence, I want to stay.
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