Door of Santa Croce
Santa Maria Novella at dusk
Santa Maria Novella at noon
Door of Santa Maria Novella
Mask shop near Pitti Palace
Paoli's in an old church where we had our big meal
Gilli's a fancy candy shop
Gelato shops all over the place
Fountain in the Oltrarno
Fountain near the Ospedale degli Innocenti
The baptistery of the Duomo
Cute lanterns at a craft fair. I think I might try to duplicate these
Cupid dressed man on the Piazza della Signoria
Cool statue on Piazza della Signoria
David copy. The real one was taken from this spot and put in the Accademia to protect it from acid rain. Somehow marble isn't exposed so much to acid rain as much as it is in the US. 50 year old marble gravestones in Ann Arbor are all illegible due to it.
We were so close to Firenze that we decided we had to see it. All my proposed itineraries had us staying there but it would be hassle to find a place and where we were just outside of Lucca was very nice.
On Saturday night, we decided to eat in San Pietro a Vico's only restaurant, Il Granario. We had made the 15 minute walk there the night before but it was closed despite what Lia (our hostess at the Casolare) said but took the bus from there to Lucca where we had our very nice meal on Friday. The road, Via Acqua Calda (hot water), had no shoulders and it would be dark as we made our round trip. I had some IKEA battery candles to carry so we would be seen. These little lights came in handy as temporary night lights to show us in the middle of the night where the toilet was, etc. Teri had a small flashlight to help with keys in dark places. According to the paper, we had a 'nuova luna' peaking with our stay in Lucca i.e. no moonlight.
Apparently we were the only English speaking people this restaurant ever had before and we were early (7:30) putting the owner in a fluster. Lia had told us to say she sent us there and to ask for a 'scont0' (discount). As it turned out, they seemed to give us plenty of extras and this was our least expensive full meal even with .75 liter of wine. She asked us what we wanted to eat. Ah... but we need the menu first. We don't have one. Eventually she found an old one and put check marks next to the dishes they'd prepare. The food was very good.-I had pasta alla bolognese (since we were not going to have time to go to Bologna-another trip). The owner had her 6 and 7 year old daughters eat at the table next to us. They were cute, curious and talkative even though they didn't know English yet. With my level of Italian, their ages are about all I can handle. I speak at the toddler level. The owner knew only a tiny bit of English and said that speaking to us in it was 'distressing'. I tried to tell her (in Italian) to just speak Italian slowly, I could understand it but it didn't come out that way. Lia didn't speak much English either but when she wanted to make a point, she'd say "Ascolta!" (Listen!!) and then tell us slowly in italiano what she thought we needed to know and I would repeat what she said in Italian to confirm it. Lia had told me that I wrote Italian very well but of course, I had plenty of time and consultations with my grammar book to help me there. Speaking off the top of my head was much more difficult especially with my fluency disorder that rears its ugly head even in English. I definitely need more practice. Throughout the trip, I made mistakes constantly using the informal 'tu' forms when I should have used the more appropriate "Lei" forms. (Italian has four forms of the word 'you' with verbs and endings to match. In French, they have a verb just to describe using the 'tu' forms: tutoyer (they have only 2 forms). In Italian, it is 'dare il tu"
I also repeatedly (and wrongly) said 'Scusa' when I was trying to get by someone. The correct word was "permesso". 'Mi Scusa' is what one says if you are interrupting someone with a question they weren't expecting. I was always doing that.
But back to Firenze. Lia took us to the train station and we were immediately able to hop on the local to Firenze with nice Tuscan scenery to keep us occupied for the 1.5 h. Teri had been there for 5 days before and me, just 2 days. The line to the Accademia was very long. Lots of Americans: especially college students were there. I thought I was there on a Sunday in July at the peak of tourist season before but now in October, it seemed just as crowded. But unlike the 90 degrees I suffered through before, it was 60 degrees, so nice for walking for hours. We saw alot. No where is there better public art than in Firenze and there were nice craft fairs there too where Teri bought a few things. She also bought some beautiful Italian shoes. We ate in this beautiful former church that I had eaten lunch in before with Dana, a roommate I had during my WSU days. Rick Steves had warned it was touristy but said the food was very good and it was. Along with wine, I had risotto florentino and veal scallopini and an orange custard torte for my 'dolci' The bathroom was up the old bell tower involving a long circular staircase. We didn't have dinner as our lunch was so huge except to get a few things later for the room (wine!!!). I did get some gelato but instead of getting what I thought was nutella flavored gelato, they gave me pure nutella. Oops. Fortunately, I had two other 'gusti'-torrone and pinenut cream to dilute the nutella. In front of the Santo Spirito church on the other side of the Arno, they had a 'natural products' fair where I got some treats for the 'moms'.
Back on the train to Lucca, which was so crowded we could barely get seats but we did speak to local kids so it was an interesting experience. We were almost the only ones left by the time we got back to Lucca, the end of the line. Usually we hover by the door of our stop but not this time so we would be the last ones out even though we didn't dawdle too much. However, the door suddenly snapped shut on Teri and she was stuck. No train personnel were around at all. I tried to find an alarm to no avail. I wasn't strong enough to pry the doors open by myself. Fortunately some other tourists could see the situation and it took several men to pry the door open so Teri would be released and so I could get out too.
Then the taxi ride back to the Casolare. The fare looked reasonable until night fees, train station fees and Sundays fees were tacked on. Oh well.