Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Enjoying Florence – What Museums?...Where’s the Gelato?!?

While Kim was here, we eased our way into a routine of waking up slowly, having a nice Italian latte (gotta love the coffee here) and then heading out to one of the many sites in town. Afterwards we would usually take a late lunch and then relax or shop in the afternoon before heading out for dinner at night. And somewhere along the way we would always squeeze in a stop for gelato. Frankly, the kids haven’t quite developed their palates for fine art, so the museums weren’t a big hit on this trip. If anyone, Kellen seemed to get the most out of it and by the end of our week, he carried a little notepad and would draw whatever caught his attention. For the most part, they seemed to enjoy seeing Michelangelo’s David but were more interested in any depiction of monsters or versions of hell (e.g. a section of the cupola in the Duomo). We took them to a Medusa exhibit outside the Ufizi, but they were disappointed that there was only one good depiction of the snakes on her head. They also got a kick out of climbing the 472 steps of the Campinela and seeing the views of Florence from above. We usually only had enough energy and patience (kids and adults alike) to hit one or two sites each day and decided not to push things. Hopefully, they got enough out of Florence to want to return again someday. When the evenings came, the real fun began – eating! The beauty of Florence is that it is almost impossible to have a bad meal here. Or a bad bottle of wine, for that matter. By far, our favorite experience was at “Il Latini” right up the street from us. We walked in to a cozy place with hams hanging everywhere. They saw we had 3 kids and promptly escorted us to a back room which at first was empty. We figured they wanted to keep the kids out of sight, but the room eventually filled to capacity. What was beautiful about this place is that I don’t think we ever looked at a menu. They just started bringing us things – plates of proscuitto, insalate caprese, crostini with chicken livers (delicious!) followed by 3 different pasta dishes. By the time the roasted lamb and beef came, we could hardly eat any more. The place was loud, raucous and fun and we loved the “don’t worry, we’ll take care of you” attitude to dining. We finished off our evening with a vin santo and biscotti followed by a nice limoncello and they even gave us a bottle of their house wine to take home. Had they not closed the next day for their Christmas Holiday, we definitely would have come back. The next night, Suzanne, Kim and I went out to another osteria while Lou fended for herself with the kids back at the apartment. At first our waiter was curt and somewhat rude, but we realized he didn’t speak English. After a while, another waiter recognized the situation and took over our table. He was animated and funny and he took a liking to Kim – touching her hair and giving her shoulder massages while he waited on us. Once again, we were treated after the meal with Italian liqueurs and a bag of biscotti on the house. It certainly pays to have pretty women at your table in Italy! Come to think of it, I definitely got props and admiring stares from the wait-staff as I walked in with a woman on each arm. It didn’t even matter that I was a foreigner – they just respect such things in Italy.

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