The daily diary of a wandering restaurateur In Italy
July 25 - Florence

Enough of the lolling about! It's time to hit the road, this time for Florence. It's about 90 minutes north on the Autostrada -- not a particularly exciting drive but a fairly quick one. In comparison to Florence, the traffic in Rome was incredibly orderly. Florence is a nightmare! The old part of the city is only accessible to cabs, locals and every Vespa in central Italy, so you have to park out and get into the good parts of town on your own.

In many ways, Florence was reminiscent of my days in San Francisco (where nostalgia was talking about the wonderful parking spots you found!) After about half an hour of cruising, we finally found a place to park. We had reservations at the Uffizi Gallery for 1:30 (reservations are the only way to fly, by the way -- keeps you out of the long ticket lines) so we did not have to wait . . . but the humidity was smothering! I don't do hot and sticky well at all (I think my thermostat is busted or something) but we were not very far into the circuit before I just dissolved.

What I saw of the art in the Uffizi was very impressive (Venus Rising from the Sea by Botticelli is one you will probably recall) but in the same way I am ruined on ruins, I am about OD'd on religious art as well. I can appreciate the work but am getting a bit numbed by it all. (You can certainly tell who had the money back then, however! I wonder if the power had been held by, say, shipowners if all the paintings would have been of boats . . .)

The piazza outside the Uffizi was a mob scene but Margene and I managed to find a spot in the shade at an outdoor restaurant and regrouped over a couple of pizzas. We wandered over to the Duomo -- very famous, very large although surprisingly simple inside, then spend the rest of the day people-watching and trying to keep the body temperature under control.

The reason for coming to Florence was to have dinner with David and Barbara, friends of Karen and Eric from Tallahassee. He is a regular guest at their restaurant, a professor at Florida State teaching in Florence for a couple of months. He and Barbara are also serious "foodies" and we had a great time talking shop.

I also connected with Rem Malloy and his mother, Deborah. Rem is designing the website for our speakers association chapter and I had a CD and some zip disks for him. (Watch out, FedEx!) Rem and Deborah have a company based in Seattle that conducts small group tours of Italy in the summer and they were traveling the country for three months setting up hotels and restaurants for their 2001 season. We invited them to join us and they were a delightful addition to the group. Their knowledge of the country and suggestions of where to go and what to do were impressive.

We had dinner at a restaurant called I' Cche C'e C'e which in Italian means "I can't pronounce the name of this restaurant." David had become friends with the chef/owner, Gino di Noci and we put ourselves in Gino's capable hands for a typical Tuscan meal. Starting with the Campari and white wine through to the orange cake, it was a feast! I kept thinking that I should have taken notes on all the dishes, but I was having too much fun to write it all down. Too bad for you!

After dinner, we wandered the streets to sample one of the basic food groups of Italy (gelato) before searching out a cab to search out our car to search out the way back to the Autostrada to find our way home. We rolled in at 1:30am, tired (but contented) little teddy bears. There is some discussion of a wine tasting trip tomorrow, but it sure feels like time for another down day!

A night in Florence at Gino's

Florence travelogue

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