Friday, December 28, 2012

Day 12: You Walk, I'll Take the Bus

Our last day in Italy dawned brightly much to our continued surprise. Our plans for the day included a visit to Fiesole, a small town above Florence. Dean and Nathan were happy to walk the few miles up, but I decided I would catch the bus and meet them at the top. While I waited, I wandered around the main square, did a little shopping, and found a little park with some good views. Before long, Nathan and Dean arrived to explore a bit before we found a hidden overlook to admire and stopped for some nibbles at a nearby bakery.

Back in Florence, Dean took us to the Palazzo della Mercato to go to the San Lorenzo Market. Filled with jealousy to have such a great place nearby where he can buy produce, cheese, fish and other delicious things, we bought some olives, dried fruit, and then (cue the angels) we made the greatest decision ever.

One of fishmonger stalls featured two guys cleaning, chopping and frying freshly caught fish and calamari to order. Nathan loves calamari, so I insisted we have a snack. We placed an order that one of the men quickly tossed in flour and popped in the fryer. They even gave us free glasses of white wine while we waited at the little counter. When our order was ready, he quickly salted it and handed it over. It was the tenderest, most delicious stuff I can ever remember having. I will dream of those delicious little creatures, I'm sure.

You'd think this was the high food point of the day, but nay it only got better from there. Luckily we split the calamari among the three of us because next Dean took us to his favorite panini place. With no visible signage, it is so lucky he ever discovered it because there we had some truly amazing sammies. I will probably dream of those too.

After lunch, Nathan and Dean had an aperitif back at our hotel before we determined to go see the Boboli Garden. Not surprisingly with our Italian luck, we arrived at 10 after 3, mere moments after the last entrance ticket sold (they stop at 3). We tried one more garden but arrived there at 3:30, just as the ticket seller placed her chiuso sign on the counter. Sigh. It took some adjusting but Nathan and Dean decided to find a path on the shores of the Arno to walk.

A long walk as the sun set along the Arno and Nathan's mood recovered. Dean suggested we wait for Sarah to meet up with us at a nearby bar in the courtyard of a building that used to be a jail but has since been remade into condos. We had some drinks and enjoyed the evening.

When Sarah arrived, we were off to enjoy a meal at Trattoria Cibreo, a renowned restaurant run by Chef Picchi that features reimagined traditional Tuscan and Florentine dishes. We ordered lots of delicious dishes so that we could try a little bit of everything. Pâté, risotto, zuppas, crostini, polenta, rabbit, chocolate mousse, panna cotta, and some other tasty dishes that I can't quite recall, all chosen from our handwritten menus and described in lovely Italian-inflected English by our friendly waiter.

Sated, we toddled through the streets of Florence in a slight drizzle. We said arrivederci to Dean and Sarah and then to the Duomo. It was a pretty amazing trip, but both of us were pretty anxious to get back to our routine, our bed, and our cats. I guess now we're adventurous for a limited time only before we require a recharge.

No separate post is really even required for the flight home because it went so smoothly and was uneventful (even my flight meal was pretty great) except for one of my bathrooms being out of order, which I thoroughly did not appreciate.

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