Week 4: 23-28 September
Back to Firenze….
The train to Vienna airport and the flight to Pisa was as uneventful as it had been on the way out. Unfortunately we were not quite so lucky when we arrived in Pisa. We were unable to buy a ticket at the airport to cover our trip on the Pisamover (tram) to the station and the train to Florence as the ticket office was closed. This meant we still had to buy a train ticket when we arrived at the station. Sadly, the connecting train departed before we could do this – they seemed to be having technology issues as a lot of the ticket machines weren’t working and the train schedule kept disappearing off the board. Eventually, after a 40 minute wait – the train that we chose was running late- we embarked on the 1 ½ hour all stops trip to Firenze. After a light meal of bread and cheese, we were ready for an early night – and good thing we did as the next few nights turned out to be pretty late.
Monday morning was time to catch up with the chores. Lots of washing and stocking up the fridge with fresh food from the markets. We spent ages at our favourite little market store, tasting meats and cheeses before making our way home with prosciutto crudo, speck, pecorino, scamorse and brie.
Spending time with our Italian friends….
Monday night we had the privilege of being invited to dinner by Andrea and his family. They live in a lovely old farmhouse about 12km from our home on the other side of the Arno. After having issues with the bus last time we traveled out to Grassina to meet them at a restaurant, we were extremely glad that we arrived without a hitch. Andrea collected us from the bus and took us to his home a couple of kms away. We had a wonderful relaxing evening sharing time and good food with special friends! Fortunately we were given a lift home, so were in bed soon after 12:30am.
The following morning we finished our chores – grocery shopping, emails, writing the blog – and booked a trip to Lake Como for a few days in October. We haven’t been there before, and we decided we should make the most of the rest of our time here – we only have 4 ½ weeks left!
That evening, our friend Lorenzo from Liguria was due to arrive. He had been in Rome with his daughter and grandchildren to celebrate his 60th birthday. After meeting him at the tram near the station, we continued the celebration by going out for a drink. The owner of the little enoteca that we visited was so proud of the platter of meats and cheese he put together for us – and rightly so as it was very tasty!
Lorenzo hadn’t been in Florence for more than 20 years, so he was keen to get to see as much as he could. He’d also never been to Fiesole, the ancient Etruscan city up the hills behind our apartment and overlooking Florence. Being a long distance runner and avid mountain climber, Lorenzo leaves us for dead in terms of fitness. So it was no issue to head off on the 4km uphill walk to the top.
Whilst we had run up to Fiesole a couple of time, through the olives and cypresses, it was nice to take our time walking and stopping off at a few places along the way. It was also good having an Italian speaker with us as he could translate a number of the plaques on the walls, buildings and monuments. We had never visited the war remembrance park at the top of the hill or the San Franceso monastery dating back to 1399.
After a relaxing lunch in the main piazza in Fiesole, we strolled back down the hill and spent a quiet late afternoon at home. The meats and cheeses from the market made for a light evening meal before we ventured out again to enjoy the city by night. It is so much nicer as it quietens down after the mad tourism of the day and it’s very special seeing the buildings at night. We decided that we deserved some gelato after our long walk, so stopped off at our favourite gelateria before heading home.
The following morning, the three of us went for a short run along the river before breakfast so we looked forward to a cappuccino and brioche at our local bar. The rest of the day was spent clocking up a further 25,000+ steps, visiting the Boboli and Bardini Gardens (Lorenzo is a qualified horticulturist by background) and climbing all the good vantage points around the city. We rewarded ourselves with pizza at our local and favourite pizzeria, Farina 00.
Friday came and it was time to say goodbye to Lorenzo. Before doing so, we had our obligatory brioche and cappuccino and took a final walk to the markets and the Oblate Library. Once again, this gave us the opportunity to see Firenze through someone else’s eyes – particularly someone that understands and has an appreciation for the art and culture that makes up the core of the city. The roads and pavement near the station were crazy, so we were glad to have left a few extra minutes to get to the tram that was to take Lorenzo to his bus to Genova. Soon it was time to say goodbye – something we have had to do far too regularly in the last 6 months. Arrivederci Lorenzo!