Friday, May 30, 2008

Florence, land of my heritage!

We got into Florence in the morning where our Nonno (grandpa) was waiting to pick us up from the train station. He took our arms and brought us back to the hotel he got for us. Hotel is an understatement, he got us an apartment in an old 15th century reconstructed palace which happened to be 20 meters from his place. After dropping off our luggage he took us to his favorite restaurant (Carvaggio's...I'm sure I messed up the spelling of this place) where it has been owned by a family and run for the last 60+ years. Nonno goes there so much with Joycey (my Nonna) almost every day so going in there is like going in to see old extended family. After being greeted with hugs and kisses from ALL of the people working in there we proceeded to eat a HUGE Italian meal. These meals consist of almost 6 different courses. To say the least, I think I gained 15 lbs just in my visit to Florence... But it was all amazing and I'd do it all over again!

After lunch we decided we needed to take a stroll out to help digest the food before round two of dinner (at the same restaurant again) with everyone. We walked up and down the Arno River. It was beautiful! I would wake up in the mornings and jog up and down it and made a couple running buddies while out there...or maybe better said I would try and beat all of them on the trails...and did.

We went window shopping along the famous Pointe Vecchio bridge that goes over the Arno. Of course we all were enamored with the lovely jewelry...Dad, this picture isn't a hint at all from Julia...

In the afternoons we went out for walks with Nonno and Poly (another member of the family) and would get Gelatoes or other tasty snacks.

Joycey is so fun!

Mmmmmm....I miss the gelatto SO cream's just not the same...

Resting in the living room/dining room of our apt.

The floor was quite comfy too.

One thing I realized is that Mary and I have some things in common...we like to take pictures of ourselves.

Nonno LOVES cherries. I think I had a kg of cherries one night when we had a cherry eating contest. I lost. sad.

One night we made artichokes Nonno's special way. It was delicious and SO much fun to get to cook with them and just play around at their place!

They didn't let me have a knife...thanks Julia.

Poly and I just watched and drooled...

Nonno in the background telling us the PERFECT way to cook the artichokes without messing them up, Joycey always smiling.

Love them!

Waiting in line at the Uffizi gallery we decided to do Julia's hair.

She looked like Belle

In the middle of Florence there is the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (the Duomo), the baptistry, and a huge bell tower. If you climb to the top of the duomo-500+ steps- you can see ALL of Florence and the surrounding mountains. It's beautiful. The climb up is a little congested but way worth the hike!

The clan!

I LOVE Florence

One afternoon we went across the Arno and up on the mountainside of Florence where there are gardens, palaces, and fortresses. The gardens were beautiful to walk through!

A view of Florence from the gardens. The round topped cathedral is the Duomo. To the left a little bit is the Bell Tower.

Yes, we climbed up all those stairs....lots of stairs are in Florence...

Ilaria (our aunt) took us up to the top. It was so nice to get to spend some time with her and get to talk about life. She's an amazing woman.

Talking/taking a breather after climbing up all those steps...

I have no idea what Julia's pointing to...

Sistas! I think I look 5 months pregnant in this pic.

The middle door was open to the cathedral which implies something specials going on over there...

Lovely ladies

We walked from the gardens over to the Pitti Palace in Florence. This was built by the Medici family (very wealthy merchant family) and had it as their home until all of them died out. It was turned into a museum with all of their old collections and original furniture. Very beautiful in there. Just down the street is where Elizabeth Barret Browning and Robert Browning moved after they eloped to get away from her father. AND there's a really good Gelatto place...

Another dinner where I left feeling slightly larger. But it was hard to stop with all this amazing food in front of me!

Winners of the cherry eating contest.

Mary loves Poly

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