Monday, July 30, 2012

ITALY Florence | Day 8

Firenze (Florence)
Florence, Arno River
DAY 8: We started our morning with breakfast at our hotel {no surprise there}, then we took a taxi to the Accademia to see the gigantic statue of David.

David, by Michaelangelo, circa 1500's, via wikipedia
We used our Florence Pass to skip the line and purchased audioguides which were helpful but we were burnt out after the 1st floor. I think the Leonardo da Vinci sketches were on the other floor, but we didn’t realize that and left without seeing them. Another reason to come back right?  From there, we walked to the San Marco Museum which used to be an old convent, dating back to 1436. This was another place where no photos were allowed :( so you will just have to use your imagination.  Some of the frescos were amazing here.  We also got to see the cells that the monks lived in.   

Courtyard at San Marco Museum, via here
The Annunciation, by Fra Angelico, via here
Next, we headed to the Medici Chapels which were HUGE! I can’t imagine having a throne to myself like that, but the Medici family was a really big part of Italy's history, as we know it today.  It was interesting to read about their connection to Michaelangelo, too. Rick Steve's mentioned that Michaelangelo lived with them in his early teens and the experience really shaped him as a person.  Supposedly, their tombs were designed by Michaelangelo. We only got one picture, due to the "no photo" rule. I felt like everywhere we went to in Florence didn't allow photos.

Medici Chapels
After gazing up in awe at the size and grandeur of the chapels, we headed to Osteria Belle Donne for lunch.
Osteria Belle Donne {and Jake}
Inside the restaurant
Meatballs with potatoes
Pasta with red sauce
This place was recommended to us by Katie, our travel agent.  We enjoyed the food and atmosphere very much.  The walk to the WC {restroom} was actually very interesting because it was almost like going down into a cellar and the restroom was decorated with great art.  As silly as it sounds, one of my favorite things about going to restaurants was using the restroom and seeing what it looked like. A couple restaurants we went to had really amazing bathrooms. Weird, I know...

After lunch we had our first mediocre gelato experience. We tried to only eat authentic gelato but you don't really know what the gelato is going to taste like until you try it.  The place we wandered into looked OK but it was in a total tourist area.  We both got two generous scoops and they were 6 euros each. That was the most we paid for gelato the entire time and ironically, it was the worst gelato we had. It just didn't taste great and was almost too much to eat. But, your live and you learn, right? 

Ponte Vecchio bridge in the background

Love the buildings!
Love the color!
One of my favorite scenic photos of the entire trip!
As per our usual routine, we went back to the hotel to rest and relax before our evening plans.  We ended up taking a taxi to the Baptistery and it was open late so we got to go inside {after paying a small admission fee}.  It dates back to somewhere between 1059 and 1128 and is one of the oldest buildings in the city. 

Jesus, on the ceiling of the Baptistery
So many stories
Amazing ancient drawings and designs
Tomb in the Baptistery
Gates of Paradise
The Duomo  
We walked around the shopping area and made our way to Vini e Vecchi Sapori for dinner. We had our hotel make reservations for us and good thing because it is tiny (I believe there are only 16 seats)! This restaurant was one of our favorites.  We liked it because they had a daily handwritten menu and it was very traditional. Also, it is run by a father, mother and their son.  The mother cooks in the kitchen, the father runs the restaurant and the son is the server. He was very friendly and helpful.  He sat with us and went through the entire menu, line by line.  The food was as delicious as it looks. Jake's veal was flavorful and very tender. The restaurant is #5 on tripadvisor and it is very worthy of that rating! I wish we could have eaten here every single night in Florence. Simply delicious!

Jake and I at Vine e Vecchi Saporiti! Magnifico!
For our appetizer, we had this delicious artichoke salad with fresh parmesan. The fresh parmesan is the key. It was indescribable - best cheese I have ever had.

Appetizer: artichoke salad with fresh Parmesan
Shared first course: ravioli
My 2nd course: Omelet with artichoke 

Jake's 2nd course: veal
Raspberry Tiramisu
The Arno River, never gets old
Good night, Florence!

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