Nov 22 2007

Thanksgiving in Florence

Published by at 8:01 pm under Florence,Italy

First – HAPPY THANKSGIVING! It’s tough being away from home during the holidays. Separation has accentuated how lucky I am to have such great family and friends back home, so even though we’re celebrating a million miles away with ravioli instead of turkey, I am particularly thankful this year. Have an extra helping of mashed potatoes for us!

Apologies for the slow blog updates this week. All of our spare internet time has been devoted to figuring out what in the world we’re doing next. We’d pretty much planned this far — couple months in Greece, work our way up the Italian boot. But now what? This question arose in an urgent way upon realizing we have no place to go at the end of this week. Currently considering working on an organic farm in Tuscany, skiing in Switzerland, or living in a villa on the French Riviera. Or all of the above. Because, you know, why not? It’s both stressful and liberating to not know where you’re sleeping the next night. I’m not that concerned since I’m traveling with Ben — life has a way of magically and inexplicably working out to Ben’s advantage despite little effort on his part. So I cling to him for dear life, trying to ride off his luck.

Florence has been beautiful and relaxing. Even though it’s a bustling city with enough history to occupy you for weeks, compared to the enormity of Rome, where every corner you turn you’re confronted with something amazing and ancient and famous, Florence seems like a breeze. We’ve spent our time leisurely strolling around the city, drinking local wine and taking day trips around Tuscany.

And shopping! I’ve been really good this entire trip, having not shopped for nearly three months. That’s a lifetime record for someone who thrives on bargain hunting. It hasn’t been hard thanks to all the incredible things we’ve been doing and seeing. In Florence, however, where designer stores line every street and the Italians around you are unrelentingly chic, it’s difficult to resist.

I’ve run across several unanticipated hindrances: while I might be convinced to spend $250 on a cashmere coat back home, when 250 euros means 375 dollars, it’s hard to justify (side note: Florence is the most expensive place we’ve visited – spent the equivalent of $15 on a stick of deodorant!). Secondly, everything I buy I have to lug around with me. We’ve been purging our belongings as we go (YOU try heaving a thousand-pound suitcase up a narrow, ancient staircase), and the idea of adding to the mass is not appealing. Trying to find a way to sneak my purchases into Ben’s suitcase when he’s not looking.

the church of the duomo
The Duomo!

Apparently there’s art in Florence too. We visited the Uffizi Gallery, which may as well be called the All The Renaissance Art That Matters Gallery. Every time we entered a new room, we were astonished at the number of pieces we recognized and had studied in school.

We also made the obligatory visit to the Duomo, the famous church in the center of Florence. Brunelleschi’s dome, an impressive engineering feat even today, dominates the Florentine skyline. The church with its ornate white, pink and green marble façade will startle you every time you happen upon it, as it’s breathtakingly gorgeous, seems to emerge out of nowhere amidst tiny clothing boutiques and panini shops, and is SO HUGE.

florentine skyline
Florence from a distance

A few days into our week in Florence, we climbed up to a piazza south of the Arno River — a place I remembered from my high school trip here nearly a decade ago as affording unparalleled views of the city. As we were leaving, we ran into a familiar face: the Latin teacher that had chaperoned my trip and brought me to that spot ten years ago! The world is wacky.

Having lived here for months, Mr. Ross showed us the city’s best wine bars and restaurants. Wine being the way of life in Italy, his tour of the good enotecas around town (a pre-lunch white, two liters during lunch, a dessert wine, and a post-lunch glass) meant that I found myself quite tipsy at two o’clock in the afternoon. Ben and I got the scoop on all of our old high school teachers, and attempted to adjust to calling him “Steve.” We also unwittingly revealed how little Latin we’d learned when I asked if it was ever a spoken language and Ben confused nouns and verbs. Then we went home and I promptly passed out.

The best part of our week here for me has been our trips into the Tuscan countryside. But I’ve rattled on long enough for today, so I’ll leave our tales of 4000 euro per kilo truffles, medieval castles and drinking Chianti in Chianti for another day. Ciao!

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2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Thanksgiving in Florence”

  1. Nate and Melon 23 Nov 2007 at 12:53 am

    Happy Thanksgiving guys!

  2. Leeon 26 Nov 2007 at 6:38 am

    I’d go with skiing in Switzerland! After all, it’s winter. You have to do something wintery. Lucy and I will be heading over to Prague for a weekend of winter sight seeing and shopping in the Xmas market on the 15th December. That should be fun.

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