Italy and Florence
Cliff has always wanted to visit Tuscany. So when we were looking at where to base ourselves for a few days we saw that we could chose Lake Garda, Venice, Milan – all beautiful areas. But when Cliff mentioned his desire to visit Tuscany, we realised Florence was only a slight detour and Ann has had Florence on her wish list for awhile. So Firenze, Toscana it was!!
Arriving in Florence we set Sat Nav to take us to our hotel. Florence has a crazy road system and of course the closer you get to the centre, the smaller the roads get! However, eventually we found our hotel. Ideally situated in the Piazza San Firenze, our little boutique spa hotel was a welcome sight. Initially we parked amongst the little stalls, that we discovered set up daily and cleared away in the evening. The piazza was heaving and the poor receptionist Matteo, only recently employed, was put in a bit of a spin because we had driven in to the restricted area and were liable to a huge fine. However, we unloaded our bags and Cliff unloaded his bike. The hotel registered our car for us and a man came to drive it away and park it in a secure garage out of town. Crisis averted! I cannot praise the staff at the San Firenze Spa and Suites hotel. They were incredibly helpful, kind and happy. Nothing was too much trouble.
So Matteo took us to our room, in what may possibly be the smoothest but slowest lift in the world. On the way up to the fourth floor, there was plenty of time to talk, Matteo told us he had a surprise for us. And, we were very pleasantly surprised. In addition to the usual room and ensuite bathroom, our bed was on a mezzanine floor above the living area! And the views! We could see the Duomo.
Armed with our map and some helpful suggestions from Matteo and Lavinia we set forth into the madding crowds. Saturday afternoon in hot July was complete mayhem. We worked our way through the crowds and found the Duomo. Unfortunately a group of very loud Hari Krishna devotees had chosen to perform at this point so we gave it up as a bad job and walked on! After exploring a few more little piazzas and via’ we found a little bar and had an aperitif. We then sought out some of the restaurants that had been recommended. The first, Obica, wasn’t open so we went on and found another that had been recommended. The Osteria il Cinghile Bianco – The White Boar. We were lucky to get a table immediately. Serving typical Tuscan food we were served ‘pronto’! Although rustic in style the food was tasty, Cliff really enjoyed his Tuscan beef stew. The chef was tad heavy with the salt for Ann’s liking but the slow cooked suckling pig was very tasty. The cheese plate and red wine was sublime.
Repleat, we staggered out on to the street, thinking to wend our way back to the hotel, via a street bar, then made a spur of the moment decision to attend a concert! Strolling home after dinner, wondering what to do next I casually picked up a leaflet and said “I’d like to go to that, when is it?” And saw that, actually, it’s now! Tickets bought and there we were. Amazing venue.