This morning we left cold, grey, soggy, rainy Bratislava for sunny and warm Florence, Italy. What a contrast! And such an awesomely short flight from Vienna, too. It's really nice to arrive in Italy *not* feeling jet-lagged. And it's so nice to be back in Firenze. I swear, no matter how many times I come here, I never get sick of this place. With this being Terezia's first time in Firenze, it's complete sensory overload for her. There is so much stimuli all around (beautiful and old architecture everywhere, heavily congested traffic and kamikaze scooter drivers darting in every direction, chic Florentines strutting around, and an awesome juxtaposition of old and modern), it's sometimes difficult to focus. We walked around the Centro Storico this afternoon in complete and total awe. We eventually made our way to one of my favorite spots in the world: San Miniato al Monte - a beautiful and atmospheric 11th century church on the hill above Piazzale Michaelangelo, which offers one of the most sweeping views of the Florentine skyline.
We're staying in a cozy little apartment in the Oltrarno, in the San Niccolo area. It's a little off the beaten path, but still fairly central and everything is still walkable. My friend Aviva and her husband stayed in this very apartment a year ago, and it's every bit as cool and charming as they described it (although the sagging bed might prove to be an annoyance). Francesca, the owner, met us with a bottle of vino and cookies, and was extremely friendly and gracious. She seemed to dig the fact that I could speak Italian (at least a little bit), and that I could more or less follow her when she switched from English to Italian.
After our lengthy stroll, we ate some extremely filling pasta at Trattoria Pallottino (which included a tasty tagliatelle ai fungi porcini freschi), and some excellent gelato from Gelateria dei Neri. After all this we were totally wiped out. We'll be in Florence for a week, but I could easily spend a month here and not get sick of the place.
More photos of Florence can be seen here.