Thursday, May 14, 2009

Goodbye Florence

After a beautiful week in Florence, we sadly had to leave. We have more to see on our trip. Florence, or Firenze (pronounced Fehr-EN-zuh) as it is in Italian, was much more relaxing than Rome. Even though there were lots of tourists at every major destination, the crowds were much thinner, and thankfully Florence doesn’t have an underground Metro like Rome does.
Florence itself is in a valley surrounded by large hills, so there are plenty of scenic viewpoints in every direction outside the city center. Although it isn’t lit quite like the Roman city center, Florence at night is a beautiful sight.
Besides being the home of the Renaissance, Florence is famous for Bistecca alla Fiorentine, Florentine Steak. The steak is cut thick and grilled on a hot grill until the outside is cooked crisp and taken off the grill while the inside of the steak is still very rare. It was our privilege this week to be able to have a Florentine steak at a little restaurant, or Osteria. It’s tucked in an alley behind the big tourist eatery Trattoria Za Za. We ordered steak and gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce. Both exceeded our expectations and while we ate we got to watch the owners of the market stalls in the piazza put away their goods for the evening. For dessert we had pannacotta, a cooked cream pudding similar to flan or crème brulee. It isn’t as sweet as either of those so it is dressed with a sweet sauce. We chose berry sauce. This reminds me: some Italians put balsamic vinegar on their ice cream.We kind of ran out of things to do on our last day in Florence (I know that sounds like blasphemy) and so we did a lot of aimless walking. We happened upon a mime performing on the street so we sat down and watched him. Unlike most mimes (except those on Animaniacs) this one was hilarious. He had a couple of jokes that were funny every time. He would pick on a passerby to play some little mime game with him and afterward, he would do the European double cheek air kiss thing and then they would walk away with white mime makeup on both their cheeks. At one point, a man walked by with a stroller that had no baby in it because the baby was being carried by its mom. The mime made a huge frantic show of the fact that the baby was lost. He pulled all the blankets out of the stroller and ran around like a maniac trying to find the missing baby. He had probably 300 people in stitches. We really felt like we were back in the medieval ages; we were surrounded by Renaissance era buildings in Florence Italy, all sitting in the public square being entertained by a ridiculously silly show. It really made our otherwise bland day unforgettable.

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