Home in Florence
Spent the morning on a train from Milan to Florence. It was one of TrenItala's fast trains so there were only a couple of stops and we made the trip in a couple of hours. First order of business was to check in to the Hotel Balestri. A quaint, older place with typically small European rooms, but it was very clean with a friendly staff and great location. Right on the river and easy walking distance to all things historic in the city. A quick walk to Piazza della Signoria and we were ready for lunch. This is one of what I would call the two main squares in old Florence, right in front of the Uffizi.
There are several restaurants around the sides along with the 'fake' David statue, another affectionately called "Big Whitey", and a small open air gallery that has Percius holding the head of Medussa as entrance.
View from the hotel window.
Over the course of the afternoon, we would pay a visit to most of the restaurants here, if for nothing more than stopping in to grab a cold drink and ‘sit a spell’ before venturing out again. While eating lunch we struck up a conversation with the two guys at the adjacent table (or rather, they struck up a conversation with us). They owned a leather shop in town ( at Ponte Vecchio); one brother was the business manager and the other was the designer (as he pointed out SEVERAL times during the conversation). We were talking to them on and off as we enjoyed lunch and as we were getting ready to leave they invited us to their shop. Waaay too classy for us (and pricey). As we walked in ‘the designer’ began barking requests (commands) to employees who quickly got us something to drink and began fetching coats for Beth to try on.
I have to admit that the guy had an eye for being able to match the right coat to the right person. The one he picked for Beth to try was nothing short of stunning, it was also close to $3000 with the currency conversion. Of course, he assured us that we would get the “family price” and that we shouldn’t pay any attention to the tag. All the same we figured he’d never come down to our range so after trying on three of four options, we left thanking him for the experience. The rest of the afternoon was spent just checking out the city and making a plan for Saturday.
That night, we found a nice restaurant on Piazza del Republica (the other of the two main squares) that had live music, well sort of; they were obviously using some sort of karaoke machine, but they were also supplementing the box with a live keyboardist and two singers. Both vocalist were good but they guy was phenomenal; an incredible range and could belt out any style of music that they attempted.
After “New York, New York” we put in a request for “Sweet Home Alabama”, but it wasn’t in the machine and they didn’t know it. The female vocalist was familiar with the chorus, and attempted a few bars, but that was about it. We applauded them for the effort before they moved on to something else (by Madonna as I recall).
Sculpture in the square.