Friday, October 14, 2011

The Uffizi, amazing food, and yet more amazing food.

We got up early-ish this morning for our 9:00 Uffizi reservations. While this was my fourth time there, it was Terezia's first, and she was clearly overwhelmed, as it's a helluva lot to take in. It's always nice to see the classic Botticellis, Tizianos, and (Terezia's favorite) the Caravaggios (although, sadly, two paintings were missing from the Caravaggio room - one was being restored while another is on loan to some gallery in Fort Worth, TX, of all places). The Uffizi is still in the midst of its epic renovation (which was going on 4 years ago when I was there the last time), and as a result, some rooms on the second floor were closed. But there was a special, intermittently interesting Giorgio Vasari exhibit happening on said floor as a way to make up for it, I suppose, although it jacked up the prices of the tickets a few euros a pop.

Oh, and of course, there's my favorite statue: the eagle sweetly serenading the drunk guy, arm in wing! I believe it's a Roman copy of a Greek sculpture, but I have no clue as to the meaning behind it. All I know is that it's both totally hilarious and completely mystifying.

After the Uffizi, we made a pitstop in the lovely Orsanmichele, then made our way to the Mercato Centrale. Terezia was in heaven seeing vast array of cheeses, meats, blankets of tripe, fresh veggies, and piles of porcini. We bought some tasty mozzarella and gorgonzola piccante. 

Later in the afternoon, we wandered up to San Miniato al Monte again to take in the views and relax on a park bench. The wildly ornate cemetery there was open, so we strolled through that a bit while marveling at the ostentatiousness of the tombs and headstones.

We then wandered around the narrow, winding streets of the Oltrarno, avoided the sidewalk of one street which had an inordinate amount of dog poop all over it (I love Europe, but its inhabitants really need to get with the program as far as picking up the dog shit), and got away from a guy aggressively selling these stupid friendship bracelets in the Santa Croce piazza by telling him we only speak Slovak.

For dinner, decided to give a restaurant in our 'hood (San Niccolo area) a try, called I Tarocchi. My friend Aviva ranted and raved about this place during her visit to Florence a year ago (she and her husband went there about 10,000 times), so we figured we ought to try it. And we were both insanely happy that we did, because the food was orgasmically amazing. For primi, I had the tagliatelle with funghi porcini, and Terezia had these amazing ravioli stuffed with pear and cheese. Both were thoroughly outstanding, and the pasta was super fresh and delicate. We then shared an awesome salad of arugula, radicchio, raisins, and parmesan shavings, and a dish of thinly sliced roast pork in a savory, garlicky sauce with roasted potatoes. The quality was absolutely stellar - this is exactly the kind of food you come to Italy for, and the kind of place where they clearly care about the quality. We were doubly ecstatic to experience this after the previous night's culinary nightmare. And another plus - I Tarocchi is only about a block away from the apartment! We will definitely come back here before leaving Florence. 

Tonight's Gelateria dei Neri gelato was cioccolato and pistacchio for me, and frutta di bosca with pistacchio for Terezia. Everything was amazing, and Terezia's frutta di bosca tasted exactly like the sweet raspberries from her parents' garden. 

Oh, and the apartment has been great (thanks again to Aviva and Mike for "trying it out" for us last year). The sagging bed hasn't killed my back yet, and the neighborhood is super quiet.

And I always love how nice Santa Croce looks in the sunset. (But then, the Tuscan sunset could probably make Hayward, CA look nice).

Plenty more photos from our trip to Florence can be found here

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