Caroline Nelson © 2017 unpublished work. All Rights Reserved.
Florence is the capital city in the dreamy area called Tuscany (Tuscania) and is the birthplace of the Renaissance. Most of you can recall the movie and book, “Under a Tuscan Sun” by Frances Mayes. Us three women were really looking forward to this part of the journey and were imagining similar adventures for ourselves here. We planned on sampling Tuscan wines while in this area, infamous for being the home of, arguably, the best wine in the world from the Sangiovese grape, Chianti!
We arrive at the Firenze Santa Maria Novella train station in Florence after a memorable 2 nights in Venice, and all Sydel and Michele are craving is some McDonald’s Cheese burgers and fries. The main allure for Michele and myself was that we could actually purchase beer at McDonald’s, which you cannot in the U.S. I find this incredibly humorous due to the fact that I had planned on eating authentic Italian cuisine on this trip for both myself, and for the ladies who I feared I might disappoint if I appeared to be too picky about food. I was far too concerned about other’s opinions. I had promised myself I would say YES to foods that were put before me and I was going to be brave about trying new foods, and here we were looking for a McDonalds! This was a turning point for me. I realized that I would stop worrying so much about what people thought about me but, for my own personal growth, I would make it a point to try different foods here. On my trip of all trips, my very fussy palate tried foods such as artichokes, eggplant, mushrooms, fish, spritz, toast (proscuito and cheese), Lemoncello, Tagliera, Cantuccini with Vin Santo (biscotti with sweet wine),and so much more. Incidentally, we did go to the Firenze McDonald’s a total of 3 times, at least one of those times I was a reluctant participant.
LET THE ADVENTURES BEGIN!
Wednesday : Arrived around 4pm to discover my husband and daughter had a floral bouquet, Baci Chocolates, and some Orvieto white wine delivered to our Airbnb as a surprise and to let me know they were thinking of me and missing me. It was reminiscent of the movie, “P.S. I Love You”. So Romantic!! We sampled wines at Da Fiaschino (an Enoteca), found the Conad grocery store at stocked up on snacks, and ate Lasagna and Pizza at a nearby restaurant.
Thursday : We walked to the Duomo (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore) which was absolutely breath taking. We stopped for our first gelato and then visited the Ponte Vecchio, which had amazing views of the river Arno. Next, was lunch at the Piazza della Signoria where we saw the many beautiful sculptures. We went back to Da Fiaschino ( Link to tripadvisor for Da Faschino) and tried Vino Nobile for the first time. It was heavenly.
Friday: We got up super early in the morning and quickly walked to the Train Station to meet up with Walkabout Florence Tours and join our group for the Tuscany in One Day Sightseeing tour (Link to trip advisor site where we purchased our tour) . We were embarking on a 12 hour long adventure to see some of the major sites in Tuscany : Siena, a winery for lunch with wine tasting, one hour of personal time to tour San Gigamano on our own, and Pisa. It didn’t take long for Michele to befriend Jenn, a woman who had been traveling solo through Europe celebrating her divorce, and we quickly adopted her. At the wine tasting, I made it a point to speak to our neighbors at the long picnic table to get to know others. We sat near a couple from Chicago, another couple from London, and a family from Australia among others. Sydel made new friends there as well, a married couple from Florida who were an absolute crack up.
In San Gigamano, Jenn went with us walking around the ancient city and it started to storm. We found a table at a café and I had my first Spritz, they drank wine. We saw the married couple looking for shelter and invited them to squeeze in on our table since all tables were scooped up quickly by tourists trying to avoid the rain. We all ended up clicking and became the “fun” group on the tour bus going forward. They were an absolute blast!
When we got to Pisa we all took the obligatory photos of each other holding up the leaning tower. These were unique photos we were going for here, not the generic holding up Pisa pics. We were going for flavor! Plus we were definitely in a wine induced fun loving spirits. Unfortunately, they are not on my camera. 😦
12.5 hours later, our tour was over. We had some planning to do as we had yet to decide where our next destination was going to be. We purposely did not book the next 3 nights because we wanted to be open to what ever adventure presented itself to us. We went back to our apartment, exhausted, and contemplated where our journey would take us from here, over a little bit more Chianti, of course!