Saturday, October 15, 2011

Una bella vista

Today is Terezia's name day. Many Americans scratch their heads and say "huh?" when they hear about this tradition, but in many (of the more Catholic) European countries, including Slovakia, if you have the same name as a particular saint, you celebrate your name day on that saint's "feast day." All the calendars in Slovakia have the name of a saint listed for each day, and if your parents don't give you the name of one of said 355 saints, then they obviously hate you because you won't get to celebrate your name day. Name day is a big deal in Slovakia - just as important and festive as a birthday. Sadly, there is no saint Jeff, so no name day for me.

Anyhow, we got up bright and early to climb the Duomo, for what is an undeniably awesome and dramatic panoramic view of Florence. But climbing the Duomo isn't just about the view - you get to walk through narrow, dank, claustrophobic passageways, and dizzying, endless spiral stairwells, which all go through the shell or walls of the dome. Brunelleschi's dome was a major architectural feat, and it's interesting to get a glimpse of how it was constructed (completely without the aid of support from underneath).

Next we sauntered over to the Piazza della Santissima Annunziata, and saw the church of the same name, which I'd actually never gone into before. It's definitely got one of the more lavishly ornate interiors of the all the Florentine churches, what with everything being encrusted in gold. Still quite interesting to see, though.

After that we strolled to Piazza San Marco to go to a bakery I read about called Pugi, which among many things, serves a kind of Tuscan flatbread that I read about in a NY Times article. We ordered one which came with sautéed porcini, and it was mouthwateringly good. The flatbread was perfectly crisp and fresh, and the porcini were the perfect topping. We'd go here again.

We then hiked across town to the Mercato Saint Ambrogio. While the Mercato Centrale, which we went to the day before, is certainly nice, Mercato Saint Ambrogio is where all the Italians go. For some reason I'd never gone there before. It's smaller, but a bit less expensive, and definitely makes for a more authentically Italian experience. Neither of us heard a single word of English the whole time. We got some fresh pappardelle, some foccacia bread, some fresh herbs, and - most significantly - for 7 euros, we got a big bag full of more fresh funghi porcini than we know what to do with. Tomorrow we'll be making both lunch and dinner at home, and porcini will factor into both meals prominently. I have to say, 7 euros may sound like a lot for mushrooms, but we'd have to pay $30 or more in the US for the same amount of 'em. We'll definitely try to make it back to Saint Ambrogio.

Lunch at the apartment!
Terka at the apartment door.

In the afternoon we did things like visit Santa Maria Novella, wander through the Oltrarno looking for a restaurant I read about which is apparently not there anymore, and gaze at the elegant Santa Trinita bridge.

Since it was Terezia's name day, we wanted to make sure we went to a good restaurant for dinner, so, as silly as it may sound, we went back to I Tarocchi, as we knew the food wouldn't disappoint. Why risk it, you know? We ordered some different items, and while on the whole it wasn't quite as fabulous as the night before, the food was still super fresh and excellently prepared. A standout dish was the lasagna al forno, which was basically a lasagna Bolognese made to absolute perfection, and one of the best examples of said dish that either of us had ever had. No gelato tonight, but we shared an American-inspired cheese cake which I Tarocchi slathered in a tasty raspberry sauce.

"Hurry up and take the damn photo!"

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

No comments:

Post a Comment