Monday, October 17, 2011

Fiesole e troppo cibo!

My watch's battery died at 11:22 PM, 10/16/11 of natural causes. We had a good run, me and that battery. Alas, this morning, the first order of business was to go to a watch repair shop kind of near Santa Maria Novella called Bigalli and get a new battery. It's kind of fun doing totally mundane stuff like that in a foreign country; not entirely sure why.

Santa Trinita

On the way to Bigalli, we walked by the Santa Trinita church, and I finally got to go in and check out the inside (it's been closed every other time we've passed by). I've never gone in the place, because I assumed that like its facade, the interior was probably yet another run-of-the-mill mannerist/baroque ordeal. But I read that the interior retained its original gothic design (I generally prefer gothic to late renaissance and baroque), and that only the facade has been redone, so I've been dying to take a peak inside. I have to say, this might be my second favorite church interior in all of Florence (first being that of San Miniato al Monte). Very dim, gloomy, atmospheric, with lots of gothic staples like Byzantine stripes and pointed arches. I wanted to take photos, but we were the only tourists in the place (lots of locals eyed us wearily as they appeared to be stepping in to do a quick prayer and to sprinkle the dirty water on themselves, or whatever, on their way to work), plus it was really dark. But it was very cool!

At any rate, after that, we decided to go to Fiesole, the little village that's perched dramatically atop a large hill overlooking Florence and the surrounding valley. We bought some bus tickets and caught a pleasantly not very full #7 at Piazza San Marco.

Fiesole is a nice escape from the insanity of downtown Florence. It's well known for its small archaeological park of Roman ruins, featuring a (still in use) amphitheater, and remnants of Roman baths and a temple. There's also a museum attached to the park, filled with Etruscan and Roman artifacts (shards of pottery, old knives, etc...). But what kind of irks me is that, similar to how museums in Florence charge extra for special exhibits regardless of whether or not you want to see them, this museum had a rather insignificant special exhibit, which jacked up the price of admission from an already pushing it 10 euros to 12 per person. And this special exhibit was pretty lame. It was basically a small room full of large photos of various well-known historical sites in Florence, and the artist superimposed these futuristic shapes and forms into them (to update them, or something?). Anyhow - it really looked like a lame art-student project by someone who probably has a buddy working at the museum, and they figured it was an easy way to bring in a little extra dough.

But it was fun to romp around the ruins and to go up the so-steep-it's-almost-vertical road that leads you to amazing panoramic views of Florence and a funky, old little church/monastery at the top. After a couple hours, we headed back to the apartment in time to make a tasty lunch, take a siesta, and then leisurely stroll through the Centro Storico.

For dinner we tried a new place which was recommended by a few different sources: Ristorante del Fagioli, near Santa Croce. The menu is all in Italian, but the waiter patiently explained (sometimes in Italian, sometimes in English) the items that we had questions about. On the whole, it was a good experience. Highlights included pumpkin gnocchi with a super fresh tomato sauce, and amazingly tender roast pork with rosemary and garlic, in a sauce that amplified those very flavors. This was simple and basic, but very well-prepared, fresh, and honest Tuscan cuisine. It was a relief to have another good restaurant experience and try some new things. (Sorry - no photos of the food tonight. I just plum forgot to take any, plus I'm still trying to strike a healthy camera/living life balance).

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