Category Archives: Florence

Italy, Food Glorious Food

Two days of what feels like non stop eating as participated in back to back foodie walks and tastings in Florence and then in Bologna (more of which in next post).

The quality of fresh produce is spectacular and can you believe the size of those scallions/shallots/spring onions in top left below?

Savoury tastings included a flat pastry made from chick peas – something the Italians invented when ordinary flour was in short supply. Of course it wouldn’t be an Italian meal without some salami and other cured meats and cheese plus some pasta washed down with good local wine. The map at the bottom right is a great way of seeing which part of this region is famous for what food. Balsamic vinegar made in Modena which is close to Bologna is fantastic – the longer it ages the thicker it gets. Some 25 year aged balsamic go for over 100 Euros and because the aging also sweetens and strengthens the taste a few drops are often served on top of ice cream.

By the way, on the topic of gelati – I haven’t given up eating it but forgot to add new flavours – so, dark chocolate, stacciatella, crema inglese, salted caramel. Tricks for spotting good gelati are: it should be in metal containers away from the light. If you see mounds or worse “heaped” mounds on display it is probably not fresh (it should be made in small batches every day). Also check the colour of pistachio – if it is bright green it is full of food colouring. It should be a greyish/browny colour (not necessarily as pretty) but way tastier. Cone or cup? That’s personal choice. Here is the lady who prepared my two scoops who clearly enjoys her job. But then, who wouldn’t?

And let us not forget cakes and chocolates – often sold in shops that are specialist and long standing. Suffice to say they are very good with a penchant towards smooth praline fillings – completely irresistible.

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Italy, Florence – I get some home decoration ideas from the Palazzo Pitti and a special note of interest if you have red hair.

A visit to the Palazzo Pitti gave me some home decoration ideas. What? OTT? Come on these were the Medicis – they had to show off.

So firstly something subtle for all my ceilings so that I have something to gaze at while reclining on my chaise longue.

Ceilings in the Palazzo Pitti – maybe a bit much but also rather fab at the same time

Now for the walls. A Titian and a Caravaggio natch and then cram as much as I can on every other wall. Also note that the first portrait shows a hair colour named after Titian and based on many southern Italians’ colouring. Who else gets their hair colour named after a famous painter? All we blondes get is “dumb” (but we know better)

Titian, Caravaggio and using paintings as walllpaper

Then a sculpture of a young Michengelo, a canopied bed and a very very big vase – and I’m done.

Now I’m heading to IKEA – they have everything.

sculptures and furniture at Palazzo Pitti

After all that it was nice to take a stroll (well stagger really as it is all uphill) in the Boboli Gardens behind the Palace – also built by the Medicis of course. The higher you climb the better the view back to the Palazzo.

Next two days are food tours in Florence and then Bologna.

Italy, Florence – Academia and Uffizi Gallery

A day of more walking(introductory tour to Florence) and then an afternoon in the Uffizi Gallery. My kind of day but my feet are killing me – and yes I am wearing sensible shoes. Those cobblestones are a killer and what’s with all those cars in what is supposed to be a pedestrian only area?

First stop, an essential must see – Michelangelo’s David. It is impressive but slightly weird because it is so huge. I still think Bernini is a better sculptor – albeit I accept he was around a hundred years later. Decided to offer David up in various tones – viewer can choose the one they like best:)

Michelangelo’s David

Some more pics wandering around Florence between walks. The little wine door was the first “Vino ATM”. You banged on the door, pushed in your empty jug and some money, waited a few minutes and out came a full jug of wine. Very cool. Bring them back I say.

Around Florence

And finally the Uffizi – highlights for me were another Caravaggio and also seeing Botticelli’s Birth of Venus- such a well own painting so exciting to see it for real – and it is truly lovely.

Caravaggio, Michelangelo and Botticelli strut their stuff

Italy, Florence

Last time I visited Florence was a very long time ago so didn’t remember much about it. Staying almost next door to the Pontevechhio which is handy and so spent first afternoon strolling around the town.

First impression is that there are a LOT of tourists here – not helped by “cruise ship Monday”! Anyway I persevered but drew the line at one hour plus queues to get into the Duomo and Campanile towers – I will return in the winter for those. I focussed on shooting upwards to try and cut out the people!

For those that care about some slightly more modern sights – note also that the Gucci museum is closed until next year!

Duomo, Campanile Tower and Baptistery

The ceiling in the Baptistery – all shiny mosaics

The original Gates of Paradise in the Cathedral museum. Very beautiful and incredible perspective. Plus the penitent Mary Magdalene by Ghiberti.

Ended the day with a Campari and soda at the roof top bar at the sister hotel to mine:). Impressive views of the bridge and far away from the crowds too.