Our fourth trip to Italy included Rome and Tuscany. Tuscany was a bit poignant for us. We spent our first two weeks in Rome and were thrilled to be heading back to Tuscany where we had rented an apartment in Panzano in Chianti for two weeks but we also knew that it was unlikely we would return to this part of Italy again only because there are other places we want to travel to. Oh to be twenty years younger!
Of all the times, including renting an apartment in Florence for a few days in 2010, we had never visited the Uffizi! This time we got it together and ordered tickets on-line (gotta love that!). All we had to do, upon arriving, was find the line-up for pre-booked tickets, where our printed out version were exchanged for real tickets; then walk back across the street and basically we’re in! We shouldn’t have waited so long! Now we wish we had gone to the Uffizi each time we were in Florence! But what we saw in the time we were there…oh my! The view looking down the Arno towards the Ponte Vecchio, breathtaking! After three hours we dragged ourselves away absolutely overwhelmed, numb and exhausted.
It’s time for a gelato! Luckily, before leaving home I had compiled a gelato list as long as your arm, so many we would need to stay in Florence for days and days! The good news is we found Gelateria Carabe’ and had the opportunity to try olive oil gelato. It was absolutely fabulous and has been added to our list of favourite flavours!
After a wander to Piazza di San Lorenzo, it’s time to head back to Panzano.
Our flight home was out of Florence so we booked a hotel there for our last night, that way we would have another opportunity to spend more time wandering about this amazing city. The car rental gremlins were at work again. These are the guys who did not have a car for us when we showed up in Florence two weeks earlier, even though it had been booked for two months. They were willing to offer us a van that actually looked more like a mini-school bus to drive around Tuscany in! Are they nuts? A SUV type vehicle is often too large for a lot of towns! We arrived in Florence to drop off the car around 11:00am or so and the office was closed. They actually close at 1:30pm on Saturday’s. So we were forced to hang about hoping someone would show up and about one hour later someone finally did, which ate into our “last day” doing Florence fun stuff!
Have you been to the Mercato Centrale? Well, if you haven’t been there lately, they have added a top floor that we wanted to check out as well as the lampredotto panino from Nerbone. Because of the time wasted returning the car, not only was it crazy busy at Nerbone but the entire place was jammed. So…no lampredotto for us! Something else we had avoided on previous visits to Florence was going inside the Duomo, I know, can you believe it? So after bad pizza somewhere I won’t mention (OK, there is a review I did on Tripadvisor), we finally did go inside, that dome, need I say more! Afterwards we walked around behind the Duomo where we stopped and listened to an awesome three piece string band. A special treat for us on our last day here!
After relaxing across from Santa Maria Novella enjoying a Shakerato, it’s time to head to the hotel for a bit of down time, print off boarding passes and so I can write in my journal. Picture if you can, me sitting on the bed writing in my journal, the windows and shutters thrown open, a breeze fluttering the curtains, a view of Florentine rooftops, blue sky, birds singing, church bells ringing…it brings tears to my eyes!
Our last dinner in Florence turned out to be an unexpected pleasure. We had planned to go to Osteria Pazzi where we had a great lunch the last time we stayed in Florence but as luck would have it Pazzi was further away than we wanted to go. When we asked the hotel front desk guy for a recommendation he suggested a place he likes to go to, Ristorante Accademia, just three or 4 blocks away on Piazza San Marco. Aha! The light bulb goes off, didn’t a good friend send us a email that we should try Accademia? Front desk guy was “friends” with the Ristorante so was able to get us in “right now”.
Ristorante Accademia did not disappoint! We shared a mushroom strudel with Parmigiano sauce to start with followed by a “to die for” tagliolini with shaved truffles for me and chitarra pasta with Scorpion fish sauce for my husband. Accademia prides themselves on their house-made fresh pasta and rightly so! The service was attentive and excellent right down to a fantastic wine recommendation: a Villa Russiz 2012 Pinot Grigio, a completely different Pinot from any other we had ever tasted; straw-yellow colour, fine, elegant, fruity and complex that over time takes on a wide array of fruity aromas including peach and pear. On the nose it has the fragrance of wild flowers.
Ristorante Accademia turned out to be the perfect way to end our trip to Tuscany! Arrivederci Firenze….
But then again, we’d never in our dreams, thought we take four trips to Tuscany. It seems once Tuscany has you in her loving arms she never wants to let you go.