I took Dad and Lin around to all of the main sights in Florence and explained as much as I could remember about things as we passed them.
The tour began with a stop at the San Lorenzo leather market and the Central Market (see previous posts for the deets on the Central Market). We did some balsamic vinegar tasting, took advantage of the copious amounts of dried fruit, and grabbed lunch. Dad and Lin seemed entertained by the cute man I buy chicken from. He chops meat with more finesse than anyone I've ever seen chop meat; it's a wonder he still has 10 fingers! At one point, he left and came back with what appeared to be the torso of some animal over his shoulder. The Central Market is one of my favorite places to go and I'm so glad Dad and Lin got to experience it!
After our market adventure, Dad and Lin wanted to see Michelangelo's David in the Accademia. The line wrapped around the building but, thankfully, my museum card got us right in. Phew! This wasn't my first time seeing David (he lives about 2 minutes from my apartment and I get in free with my card) but it's always remarkable to visit. It's not my favorite part of the museum, though. In the hallway leading up to the David are Michelangelo's Prisoners of Stone. They are his unfinished sculptures so they look like they are trying to escape the rock (hence the name). Plus, I love seeing the chisel marks because, in many different scenarios, I believe that the process is just as beautiful, if not more so, than the finished product.
|A prisoner of stone|
Santa Maria Novella was next. It just so happens that, in SMN's piazza, there was a food festival going on. Naturally, Dad bought a Sicilian pastry called sfogliatella (or, lobster tail). I first saw them on Cake Boss and always wanted to try one. Glad I got the chance because, from what I tried, it was quite delicious!
I don't remember the last time I went to a non-contemporary worship service for Easter but, when you're in Italy, good luck finding a contemporary, Protestant church. We attended mass at a small American Episcopalian church. It was very intimate but good.
Scoppio del Caro
This is something I'd been looking forward to since coming to Florence. For Easter, a medieval cart, followed by a procession, marches through town to the Duomo. Thousands of people gather around as the cart "explodes" with fire works for about half an hour. It's insane! At the end, a mechanical dove flies out of the cart. Since the tradition dates back to the Middle Ages, it is said that, if the dove returns, there will be a good harvest this year. If not, it's bad news for everybody. Obviously, since the dove is mechanical, it always returns but we didn't see it anyway because of all of the smoke from the cart.
After the grand explosion ceremony, I took Dad and Lin on a second tour around the city. We started with Santa Croce, a beautiful church wherein lies the tomb of Galileo. This was follower by Piazza della Signoria and the street performers of the Uffizi gallery. Then, we walked down the river Arno, across a bridge, and up tons of steps to Piazzale Michelangelo for a great view of the city. I'd been there before but I never tire of its views. If you ever go to Florence, you need to endure the trek up to the top. It's so worth it!
|Cupid at the Uffizi|
Easter dinner was at a Tuscan trattoria that my cooking teacher recommended. It was probably one of the best meals I've had since coming to Italy. We all got something (most things typical of Tuscany) and shared.
|Risotto di Verdure|
|Crespelle alla Fiorentina|
I've mentioned Ribbolita before (it was the first meal I had in Florence) but, it is so delicious, I will explain it again. It's basically Tuscan vegetable soup/stew with cabbage, lots of seasonal veggies, beans, and combined with what was, at one time, stale Tuscan bread. Dad ordered Florentine crepes (crepes with ricotta and spinach) as well as pork with a balsamic vinegar sauce. Lin decided on eggplant parmesan and, since it is Spring, I ordered vegetable risotto (a VERY typical Spring dish in Tuscany). All was delcious and it was a MUCH better dining experience than the previous night!
Since Monday was a national holiday, Liberation Day (Italy's "Independence Day"), we took a day trip to Cinque Terre (Literally, 5 Lands), 5 small fishing villages built into the cliffs along the coast of the Mediterranean. It took us 4 hours by crowded train to get there but, as Dad put it, the juice was worth the squeeze.
First, we took the ferry to the largest and farthest village, Monterosso. We hiked a bit then climbed a huge rock and chilled on the beach after wetting our toesies in the Mediterranean.
We hopped on the ferry again to go to Vernazza. We spent some time there then headed to Manarola. From Manarola, we walked the Via dell'Amore (Road of Love) to the first village, Riomaggiore. All of it was so gorgeous. Everywhere you looked, it was like you were looking at a post card. I am SO GLAD we got to go and see such a breathtaking place.
On the way back from Cinque Terre, we stopped in Pisa to see the infamous Leaning Tower. It's close to Florence but I hadn't been yet. Of course, I couldn't leave without taking one of those cliche, forced perspective pictures with the tower.
After class, we all took another stroll through the market for some dried fruit and a look at it during its less-crowded hours (It's a zoo on Saturdays!) then I escorted Dad and Lin to the train station. It was a fabulous weekend and I really enjoyed getting to spend time with the both of them and show them around my home away from home.
This week is going to be filled with nothing but schoolwork! I have so much going on in regards to papers, presentations and projects, and it seems like there isn't nearly enough time in the day to get it all done! But I can't believe this semester is almost over!