I’ll start with the bad first because, well, that’s how it happened chronologically.
After work on Friday, Maggie and I took a train to Pisa. Let me tell you, Pisa is not as I remember it from three years ago. We arrived in the run-down train station, walked through a run-down neighborhood and checked in to our hostel, which some guy had converted from a house by throwing bunks in the two bedrooms. Easily the worst hostel I have ever stayed in. Maggie and I laughed it off and trekked into Pisa town for a little sight-seeing.
The leaning tower is often very high on a tourist’s check list, but Pisa doesn’t have much else to offer. You go to the piazza with the church, baptistery and tower, take you obligatory holding-up-the-tower-with-your-bare-hands photo and leave Pisa. Unfortunately, we stayed. We grabbed a beer to drink in a public piazza, but were met by unsavory characters, one of which exposed his flaccid penis to us… Thanks, dude. We didn’t get much sleep that night due to flashing nightmares and loud hostel mates. Boo.
Early the following morning we arrived in Florence, ready for a different taste of Tuscany. That taste was shopping.
We did start the trip out responsibly though. Our first stop (in the rain) was across the river. I have been to Florence five times previously and every time I had plans to see the Brancacci Chapel and it never worked out. I haven’t had time, I forgot, I went and it was closed, I went and there was a service. So, sixth time’s the charm? Isn’t it awesome when you study something for years and then finally see it in person? Maybe that’s only an art historian thing. I can’t think of any parallels off the top of my head. Anyway. Chapel? Beautiful.
After the chapel, we hopped over to the Ponte Vecchio before deciding the rain was too much and we needed a break, which came in the form of lunch. We tried to dry off during our meal and enjoy some Tuscan delights. The Italian couple next to us ordered something very interesting. It looked so odd that I suppose Maggie and I were staring. So, of course he asked us to try it… Wait, that doesn’t happen in America, does it? Have you ever sat next to a stranger in a restaurant and have the first thing they say to you be, “Would you like a taste?” Hmm. I don’t think so. It’s happened so many times to me here in Italy. It must be normal to share food with strangers. So, we did as the Florentines do and tried the mystery dish. It was tripe cooked in broth with butter and parmesan, which our good friend put on a piece of hard bread with a huge chunk of mint/parsley spread. I’m pretty sure he was trying to disguise the texture from us, which is a little rubbery I think. So, thanks for looking out for us, friendly tripe-eating man! I was proud of us for being adventurous, but tripe probably won’t become common in my diet.
After lunch it was on to the market and down with our savings. On my final trip to Florence I was purchasing all the things I’ve wanted for myself all year as well as some goodies for friends with requests. Let me tell you, it adds up. We also went to the wonderful indoor food market next to San Lorenzo right as it was about to close. We made sure we bought some olive oil, balsamic and other treats at the vendor named Lombardi in honor of my Aunt Vicki and Uncle Sil Lombardi. I’ll be bringing the bag home for you!
So, yeah, it really adds up. We bought so much stuff in Florence, we could barely fit everything in our bags. We even canceled our trip to Cortona the following day due to the weight of our backpacks. But it’s okay. We were satisfied with the weekend. We were coming home with leather purses, belts, gloves, sandals, boots, scarves, pretty much everything they sell in Florence.
Unfortunately for our bank accounts, we didn’t get enough and came back the next weekend. Stay tuned for the next post!