Thankfully there was no problem getting to the train station this time. We had time to spare & so did some gift shopping.
We were able to actually enjoy the views on the train & relax a bit throughout the 2 hour trip, which was lovely!!
It was on our arrival that I realised it was like I was in the movie The Tourist & was waiting for Johnny Depp to find me! 😘
We left the train station & were amazed at the view. Some school kids came & asked us where we were from. When we said 'Australia', they got excited & asked if they could borrow us for a few mins. They took us to their teacher & asked us questions in English that their teacher told them to in Italian. It was gorgeous! When we finished, one of the boys shook & kissed our hands.
We then set off on our own to find our hotel. It took us 15 mins to walk there & was fairly straight forward. Their bridges thankfully have sections for wheeling!
We found our hotel in the middle of the Jewish Ghetto - an incredible site with history
We took it slowly the next morning as we were tired & checked out of the hotel at 10:30. We wandered till we found somewhere nice to eat for breakfast, right near the Duamo. We had some lovely savoury focaccias and I had peach (pesca) juice... have had so many here, they're delicious!!!
We then went to the Duomo & to begin with, weren't impressed, but when we got to the front, we were able to see what the fuss was all about! The painting on the ceiling was just stunning! Really incredible detail!!!
We then raced to a couple shops, popped into a Disney store we stumbled across & then back to the hotel to pick up our bags.
We grabbed some pizza to go on the way back - it was a really thick, soft slice which I hadn't seen before.
27 September 2017
We had a late dinner that night. Went to the Piazza Della Repubblica for some spaghetti pomodoro & wine. 🍝🍝🍝 We truly enjoyed soaking up the sights for our last night in Florence.
While there,we went on the merry go round in the square! A bit of fun!!
We headed back to our room & started Downton Abbey together, but both fell asleep not long into the Ep 😴😴😴
We then wandered the streets & enjoyed taking in the sights for a while, had a drink & fitted in some shopping too!! :)
We then had a really lovely time of rest back at our hotel. We were exhausted, so took the time to nap, get our bags organised & then began our first real small group study together from our book. It was realllly good! Very confronting, but so relevant & very obviously from God. I'm keen to get into it!
Next on the agenda was making pesto for the gnocchi.
To start, we used a mortar & pestle to grind garlic, salt & pine nuts. Then Giuseppe taught us about how to stop basil from going dark and bitter, by using a cold blade or mortar bowl & working quickly with it.
We then made small eggplant parmigianas. Yum! I am IN LOVE with the plain pomodoro sauce here, it's excellent!! Tomato, garlic, basil- what more could you want...?! That's something we've noticed about Italian food h it's all so simple but taste incredible!
We then for to eat our creations 😘
I have never cooked dishes quite so delicious. It was so simple & beautiful! And of course we enjoyed it with wine - what more could you want??
When we got to the end, we were awarded with a certificate & given a cookbook & guide to Florence.
It was honestly a beautiful day! We were so full though that we ended up taking our biscotti home.
Once we got to the restaurant where we were cooking, we washed our hands and put on our aprons. It was a lovely, expensive restaurant with a small, but well equipped kitchen.
We started with biscotti. Giuseppe told us that the "bis" in biscotti literally means 'baked twice'. You roll the mixture into a snake and bake it, then take it out, cut it into biscuits and bake again for a few mins to help dry out & harden up. Biscotti for the Italians was invented to be dunked into sweet wine (more like an aperitif or port) hence its lack of sweetness & how hard it is.
We then made potato gnocchi. It was incredible how simple it was to make! Definitely want to try again!!
After that, we had a break & had the chance to try some local wine & Tuscan nibbly bits (cheese, olives and prosciutto). Was a lovely time getting to know the others in the group.
We then walked to a local fruit & veg shop that we would have completely walked past otherwise. As a group, we filled a basket of fresh groceries to try along our journey. Here I tried fresh fig for the first time. It was beautiful, so fresh & full of flavour!!
We continued on to an olive oil store where we tried different olive oils & balsamic vinegars (these weren't from the area). The oils tasted so pure and the balsamic quite sweet. There was white & also orange flavour to try. So delicious!!
Was really lovely having some great, fresh produce!
Giuseppe also pointed out a sign along our way that showed just how high the flood waters rose in 1966!
Despite having had a good night sleep, waking up was hard, but we got ready & went to meet for our cooking class.
When we got there, they informed us that we had been upgraded (for free) to the masterclass instead! This meant that we had tastings along the way, a smaller group and a more advanced menu.
We met our group (made up of a family of 3 from NYC, a step mum & daughter from San Francisco) & headed off for some fun. Our guide, Giuseppe, was great fun & had a very quirky sense of humour. It was fun to play around with him.
We went to a local bakery for breakfast (pastry & my first taste of tea here) & had a chance to chat with each other a little more.
26 September 2017
After all the hot days & sweaty adventures (& oh so much sunburn 😫😫) we decided it was time to do washing. Eb braved figuring out the laundromat while I had a shower & washed my hair. It was all quite exciting when I got down there - felt a lot more like locals!!
With clean and dry clothes, we headed out for a late dinner to a restaurant recommended by one of the hotel staff (Trattoria Za Za). It was clearly very popular because there was a line & waiting list. Once inside, we could see why people loved it! It had colour and atmosphere!!
We decided to go all out and ordered aperol spritz's (apple spritz's) entree & mains. I wasn't blown away by the food, but it was a good night none the less. We sat & talked for hours. Just enjoying the atmosphere. It's been so lovely to not have to cram catching up into 30minutes or so but take our time.
Came back exhausted.
The bus took us up into the hills, to a place called Fiesole. Somewhere we we're hoping to go but didn't realise we could get to, so we stopped there for lunch. It was just stunning, it look down & out over Florence & was so much greener than anywhere else we'd been. We enjoyed more good food (I had a thick spaghetti with sausage & broccoli...yumm), then hopped back on the bus - this time on the roof.
We enjoyed sitting up there, watching the world go by :)
Next stop was Piazzale Michelangelo where we saw the statue & EVEN MORE STUNNING lookout. We spent some time taking in the view, before hopping back on the bus to head back towards home.
We then took more time to just wander & explore.
We stumbled across Piazza Della Repubblica where we saw the merry go round & some street buskers & also tried some fabulous baked goods!
We kept going & saw some statues (some good and some weird...) and Ponte Vecchio. The view of and from Ponte Vecchio was truly beautiful!! However not the best site we were going to see that day.....
We finally got to our hop on/hop off bus where we decided to happily watch the world go by from inside the bus for a while.
This morning was a struggle as we were both so tired & sore from the suitcase saga. We decided to take the day at our own pace which ended up being the perfect thing to do!
We ended up over the road for breakfast & found ourselves ordering similar to what we had in Rome - croissants/savoury pastries & juice.
From there, we walked to find the hop on/hop off bus but found plenty of distractions along the way. We found some adorable toy stores, book stores, stationery shops, markets and other sight seeing places.
We also found a massive marketplace which was incredible to explore. The food looked & smelt so amazing. There were a lot more native Italian's here too so it was fun to try & translate what we spoke! We were particularly taken by a man at a dried fruit stall who was very friendly & generous but couldn't speak English. We tried an amazing selection!
We enjoyed taking in the sights along the way, and fell more in love with Florence.