Florence, Italy, Part 2 of 2

[Continued from Florence, Italy, Part 1 of 2](http://andy.ciordia.info/articles/2005/06/08/florence-italy-part-1-of-2)


We tracked back to a Cafe that had a plethora, (yea I said it), plethora, of panini’s and sweet yummies. I never figured out how, or who makes up these cases of items. If someone out their does, let me know. Every cafe/snackbar has a supply of foodstuffs, do they make them? Do others? Is the general rule of thumb to stock and run out and thats that, or make more on demand? Not having a handle on the language to that degree I couldn’t navigate business, just observation for the most part.

Freya had informed us of some cafe’s to check out so we hit up Gili’s, Paszkowski’s, & Cafe Rivore. Each one of these was a rather historical and popular piazza location. We tried many little desserts at these places from amaretti’s to nonni’s, a flan to cioccolato. All three of these places worked a little latte art mojo. Hearts for my lady, rosetta’s for me. We spoke to their barista and learned that they had worked there somewhere in the 3-5 year range. These guys really work it spinning all sorts of little concotions from the bar to the espresso machine. Lots of small movements, well formed enviornments, and being highly used to burst capacity needs. Really fun to watch. Again though, lacking enough language was a barrier to having any real deep conversations, but it was fun to work on non-verbal communication.

We took a day off of anything planned by just wandering. Robin and I like to wander. Sometimes its with purpose, sometimes its just which way our gut pulls us. We figured out in hindsight that you need three days in all places so you can afford a day to just be mellow. Heading to dinner we stumbled upon [d. Bartolini](http://www.dinobartolini.it/). Reminds me of what [Sur la Table](http://www.surlatable.com/) is, but a bit bigger. The staff was very friendly and we quickly found a line of cups from “Thun”. Really cute series of cups, and also found their catalog showing they had a rather extensive collection. We have so far researched it down to a Czech company and a few european resellers but I haven’t translated enough to find one that will ship to the States.

The day of rest was good since the next day we were off on our day trip to Siena & San Gimignano. Robin slept on the trip while I looked out the bus windows and worked on balancing levels of photos. We arrived in Siena about 10am or so, clouds were rolling in, you could smell rain in the air. Meeting our local guide we were off to the races learning about Siena’s history, the competition and wars with Florence, what the Medici did upon conquering, banks, districts, churches, monestaries, piazza, oh my. Coming out of Siena’s duomo we were met with the rain. Robin and I generally don’t care so we walked to Campo square where we tried to identify some non-tourist trap to eat in. Failing, we walked out of the square and into one of the best pizza shops to date. Of course being wet and a bit tired we ate communally and I took no photos of food. A small beer later, my spirits restored, we walked around on our own for a while stopping into a cafe for a cappa and double cappa. I was hoping if I ordered a dopio cappuccino, I would get a 2oz espresso cappa. Nope. I did however find out how to get a latte. hehehe. How do I get a double-espresso, cappa in Italian? Have to find that out for next time. We never got to feel comfortable as we then got on the bus and headed towards San Gimignano. The sun however did greet us as we arrived at our destination.

San Gimignano, a town of towers. I can only imagine what it must have been like back in the day. A tower was how you showed you had wealth. The more towers the more money, the higher the better. If you were to lose your wealth a town might decapitate your tower to keep you in check. Crazy times in deed. In San Gimignano we only had a little over an hour. I wish we had more time because this place is just a little gem. It wouldn’t take more than a day, but it just feels so nice. Corridors of streets, the gothic nature of the towers, and the countryside so green and fertile. Beautiful. We stopped at one of Italy’s famed gelato shops, “Gelateria di Piazza”, and enjoyed some of the richest gelato on our journey. It had won the national gelato compeitition so many times they withdrew to allow others to win. We ended up just meandering through the town and soon found it time to return to our bus.

The day before we left Florence we visited the Boboli Gardens. In the surroundings of Florence it is all populated. You don’t get to catch much of a green countryside except here or if you leave the city all together. If you have been to European palaces many have a “garden”. A garden can constitute acres of land that might have pools, arenas, fountains, statues, guest houses, etc. They are very large, very ornate, and I think we all wish we had one, hehe. One of the things I am constantly in awe of is how much artistry was put in to everything and how I miss it in the States. The gardens took about three hours of walking to encompass and enjoy it all. Since we had paced out the area before we went to the gardens, for dinner we decided to go to “Osteria Santo Spirito”. Which as you can guess was off the Piazza Santo Spirito. A very young and hip crowd lives in this area and a more relaxed feel can be felt over the Arno, rather than in Florence proper. For dinner we enjoyed fresh pasta, lamb, chicken, and veggies. Robin and I also got quite squirrelly off a bottle of wine.

All in all Florence is a wonderous and beautiful place to visit. It offers days of things to do and enough places to eat to keep anyone satisfied. We could have stayed over a week and indulged in more of the museums and a broader sweep of the region, but on to Venice we went!