Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wednesday (Venice to Florence)...

The streets were wet after light overnight rain, but the clouds were breaking. Packed quickly. One last breakfast in the hotel. One final walk to S.Maria Della Salute.

A pleasant walk to the train station via Campo S.Margarita. Passed produce-laden boats and carts with fresh seafood. Naturally, the sun came out to warm...downright sweaty as we reached the station.

Boarded the 10:43 Eurostar train bound for Florence. Binaro 3. Carrozza 6. Posti 55/56. Waved Arrivederci to Venice as the train slipped across the lagoon.

In Mestre, a mother and child boarded and sat next to us for the duration of our trip. I'd say it took us about 5-minutes to name this hyperactive child...Luigi il Menace...or Devil choose.

Bright red poppies lined the tracks as we passed through Padua. Puffy clouds and filtered sun set off brilliant green fields of grapevines. Lush valleys between Bologna and scenes divided by blacked-out tunnels. Hillside groves of olive trees. Secluded towns with signature church towers.

Arrived into Firenze Santa Maria Novella. A short 15-minute walk to our B&B via the sunny Piazza del Duomo.

We're staying at our old favorite B&B...the Dei Mori...and its downstairs neighbor, the Badia Guest House where our room is actually located. The Dei Mori hostess, Suzzanne, is the quintessential B&B greeter. She is an American married to an Italian, and takes great pride in her adopted home. She oriented us to new or lesser known highlights, since we have been to Florence before. She also pointed us to four of her favorite local restaurants.

Grabbed a quick pair of wonderful, warmed sandwiches at nearby Cucciolo Pasticceria. Took a long re-orientation walk past a few of our favorites...Piazza della Signoria and the Uffiza Gallery. Walked along the Arno River to grab some warm afternoon sun photo of the Ponte Vecchio. Had a quick gellato stop at an amazing artisan spot, Gelateria Santa Trinita...Jeff declared this his favorite gelato in Italy! Passed the Pitti Palace. Turned around at the Porta Romana and the edge of the old city. Returned via the Ponte Vecchio...sadly where locks have aparrently been banned since none were insight.

Ventured into the Baptistry of San Giovanni...the jewel box in front of the Duomo. The golden mosaic ceiling was breathtaking.

Dinner at one of Suzzane's recommendations: Trattoria Baldovino, behing the Basilica di Santa Croce. The food was wonderful, creative Tuscan flavors. The colorful bruschetta. Jeff's amazing tortallacci di patate--oversized tortallinis with a hearty meat sauce--and his petto di pollo--juicy chicken witha rich sauce of tomato and olive. My filetto di manzo all' aceto--a marbled beef filet in a dark, sweet basalmic reduction. Etc. Etc. All the dishes were mouth-watering. (Did I mention our dessert? Crostata con creme arance.)

Wandered back through Piazza Santa Croce and Piazza della Signora to finally shower and sleep :). What a VERY long day!

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