Note to self: The only way to know is to try.
I honestly thought I was going to love Florence. I thought it was going to be amazing and the highlight of my trip, that all other cities would pale in comparison. Don’t get me wrong, Florence is great, and I’ve had a really good time here, but maybe I didn’t need to spend 4 days here, maybe I should have spent some time in the hillside visiting wineries and enjoying the natural landscape, maybe I’m just over the churches and museums (same thing happened after 20 temples in Thailand), or maybe this heat has finally gotten to me.
This is the whole reason we travel though, right? To learn what we like and dislike, to see, feel, and experience for ourselves so we can formulate our own opinions and no longer use those of others. I know now for next time, that I should spend more time in London, Paris and Venice, and to maybe skip Florence for Naples and Bologna, but I wouldn’t of known that had I not visited.
These were the thoughts floating around in my head as I lay in bed this morning wondering what I was going to do on my last day. The only thing I hadn’t done was go inside the duomo, every time I’d walked past the line was a million people long and there was no shade from the blazing sun.
Apparently going to line up at 8:30am, a half hour before opening made no difference. So I turned right back around and set off for a day of walking and eating, the two things I enjoy doing most. This, I have learnt, is the true beauty of solo travel, changing plans at the last minute to suit your mood without fear of upsetting anybody else.
So ate and walked I did. Since I arrived in Florence I’ve been wanting to try panini al lampredotto. Lampredotto is a typical Florentine dish made from slow cooking the fourth stomach of a pig with tomato, onion and celery. A crusty bread roll is then cut in half, dipped in the broth and loaded with the meat, salsa verde and spicy sauce.
I know it sounds off putting to most, but I’m no stranger to offal and this was mouth wateringly good. The tripe was ridiculously soft and tender and the juicy roll and sauces brought the whole dish to another level. I wish I had tried it sooner so I could have had more while I was here!
I walked the streets for a couple of hours, admiring the buildings and did a bit of window shopping. There were a few gelateria’s I hadn’t yet visited so I started off with a pre lunch visit to La Carraia for a medium scoop of pistachio, fior di latte and nocciola. Mmmmm, probably the smoothest and creamiest gelato I’ve had in Florence (except for the place I went to with Angelica, but that’s away from the city centre).
I took the long way back to the apartment, stopping for some coccoli (fried pizza dough balls, I could see how they could be addictive) and a panini from Panini Toscano. Panini Toscano is pretty unique in that the team gets you to try 4 cheeses and 3 meats before selecting what you would like on your panini. I don’t exactly know the cheese I chose, but I selected the prosciutto, added the spicy sauce, eggplants and rocket. It was really tasty, but given the price and size All’antico Vinao is my winner. I couldn’t finish all of it so I took it home and ate it after my siesta.
(Having the sun directly above you does not make for good food photos)
Side note, siesta’s are the greatest thing ever, at 1400 when I was returning to the apartment it was so bloody hot there was no way I was going to be able to do anything. When I left the apartment again at 1530 after a nap, it had cooled down a bit and there was finally some shade to walk in.
Time for another walk, I set out for Piazzale Michelangelo and the rose gardens, via Ara is Sicilia for a roadie gelato. More pistachio and noccolia, this one was a little icy, though the pistachio flavour was the most authentic yet.
The walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo isn’t too steep, but factor in 33°C heat and you have yourself a little workout. Luckily, you’re rewarded with sweeping views of Florence as far as the eye can see. It was truly breathtaking, and I’m amazed each and every time at the grandeur of the duomo in each town, at a height so much greater than the rest of the city. I could see how this would be the perfect spot to watch the sunrise/set but I wasn’t game to head back over again at 9pm.
The rose garden beneath was a nice place to lie in the sun, relax and listen to a podcast for an hour, though it had nothing on the rose garden in Lyon.
By the time I left it was 1730 and I was craving a big glass of cold water (and a lemon sorbet). I stopped past Vestri on the way home for a lemon and melon sorbet, most disappointing one of the whole trip so far. The sorbet was granular and started to melt almost instantly, and for 2€ I kid you not it was about 4 spoonfuls.
Another big walk home, a long cold shower and a quick chat with Angelica as to the best place for pizza in town and it was off to Cucina Torcicoda. Sausage, brocolli sprouts and smoked provolone cheese, deliciozo! The pizza was massive for 10€, the house red was nice and smooth and the service was great. Highly recommended! (Kindles are perfect solo traveller dinner companions)
After 2 pretty crappy gelatos during the day I decided to have one last gelato in Florence as I walked home. La Carraia has a 2nd outpost on my side of the river so it was another medium sized pistachio, bacio and fior di latte. I’m pretty sure pistachio gelato has replaced the blood in my veins. I had joked with a friend that I should have 25 gelatos in Europe while I’m 25, at 16 with 4 days to go I’m not far off…
With a 26,000 step day full of delicious food done and dusted, it’s off to bed I go.