We had our first visitor in Italy – our friend, Janet, from Annapolis! Janet flew in on Wednesday and stayed in a hotel nearby (since we only have one bedroom). It worked our great. We would meet up with her part-way through the day – since we had our work and chores to do – and then go sightseeing. It was a wonderful few days to just be tourists.
We kicked off Janet’s visit to a local trattoria to try this specialty of Florence – thinly cut beef steak cooked rare. Delicious!
Probably the most spectacular highlight – a visit to the Accademia to see Michelangelo’s David. It is awe-inspiring every time you see it. And January is a perfect time to visit because no lines. (We took a selfie – along with everyone else. Some people even had these cool gadgets that extended their phones out so their selfies could catch more background. Ours is old school.)
Farmacia di Santa Maria Novella
A little off the beaten path – this perfumerie dates back to 1612, when monks created herbal remedies for various ailments. It is still housed in their old cloisters, complete with hundreds of year old frescoes. Over the years, the monks moved into fancy perfumes, which are still made today according to the same strict standards and recipes. Janet bought the perfume based on the scent created for Catherine Medici. I bought one of my own favorites – essence of magnolia.
The old straw market is filled with stalls during the day, with sellers hawking purses and leather jackets. But it’s empty at night, except for this sculpture of a boar, affectionally called “The Piglet.” If you rub his nose, supposedly you will return to Florence. Of course we all did!
We got out of town – by way of city bus – to the hills above Florence to the charming town of Fiesole (pronounced Fee-eh-SOLE-aay). We climbed, climbed, climbed and were rewarded with an amazing view of the city, as well as La Reggia degli Etruschi, an inventive restaurant at the top that served homemade pasta with a gourmet flair – mine had pear, roquefort cheese, and poppy seeds.
We bid Janet farewell with a toast of Tuscan red wine at the fabulous rooftop bar at her hotel, overlooking all of the sights we had been admiring. Since it is January, they have heated floors, fur seat cushions, and white blankets to wrap up in. Very chic. What a fun time we have had!