In the ranking of romantic spots to vacate with your honey, Florence must surely be in the top 5 [along with Paris, Venice, San Francisco and some itty-bitty island in the south Pacific - someday!]. When I discussed our trip plans with friends, Florence was definitely the favorite. It's just big enough to have lots of great restaurants, fantastic museums and shopping, but small enough to wander aimlessly, leisurely taking in the sites. A perfect way to start the trip....
We cabbed it to the hotel and quickly realized we weren't staying at the Palazzo, but at the Hotel Davanzati next door. This hotel got great reviews everywhere I looked and our stay there confirmed them all. Yes, the room was comfy but beyond that there was free internet, a great breakfast, happy hour with delicious bruschetta and Prosecco. We borrowed guidebooks from the library and set out to roam the streets.
The city was bustling. Lots of folks making their way around the street markets, eating gelato, sitting at the cafes & just soaking it all in. We saw a huge carousel in Piazza della Repubblica, a marionette show in front of Santa Croce, and little pirates, Poohs & princesses toddling by. After the first pirate we thought, okay Disney is big here too. But after a few more princesses and lots of confetti and silly string in the streets we learned Sundays in February are mini-Carnevales.
Yes, I said Sunday. As in Superbowl Sunday. Wayne realized about four days before we left that we would be in Italy for the Superbowl. Whoops! A few "pubs" had signs for the game, but since it would be shown at 1am the Erwins would not be in attendance. Sorry sweetie.
Instead we gorged ourselves at a highly recommended place, Il Latini. What an event! They have two seatings, so Tomasso at the hotel made our reservations for 7:30. We joined the crowd waiting out front and when the owner opened the door watched as everyone surged forward and began shouting. They must have been saying "reservation for 4!," "reservation for 8!" because the owner/greeter/host led them in. Finally I got the guts to elbow in with the natives and we were taken to our table. A few moments later, a couple was seated at table with us - Americans!! The couple from Houston had left their 3 year old boy for 2 weeks in Italy, so we had lots to talk about.
What we knew of Il Latini before getting there is that you sit down and they bring you food. And more food. And more food. And that's exactly what happened. I guess we could have asked for a menu, but when in Rome... I mean Florence. When we entered we'd passed a guy shaving piles and piles of prosciutto, so we weren't surprised when a plate of it showed up for an appetizer. The Primi, or pasta, course was next. We (all 4) couldn't decide so they brought some of all the options to share. All were delicious: spinach & cheese ravioli with tomato sauce, penne with meat sauce, and rigatoni with wild boar sauce. Yes, Miles, we ate wild boar! We agreed we'd be fine just finishing the pasta and leaving, but we saved room for the courses to come.
As we ate the pasta we noticed tables around us being served huge slabs of meat. One couple had what looked like a literal side of beef. So Wayne and I decided to share the Secondi course and selected sausage & beans. That was a great choice, just the right portion and delicious too. Dessert followed: biscotti, gelato & vin santo (dessert wine). What a meal! And throughout we were helping ourselves to the jug of Chianti Classico on the table. Our bill? A mere 65 euro! We wandered back to the hotel and resigned ourselves to learning the score of the big game from BBC the next morning.
[Photos: a replica of Michelangelo's David in Piazza della Signoria, its original home; Nicole rubbing the boar's nose in Mercato Nuovo. This supposedly ensures a return to Florence; the carousel in Piazza della Repubblica; us at Il Latini - see the prosciutto hanging inside; a wild boar! (not my photo) ]