A Florence Returns to Florence

When life gives you lemons, supposedly lemonade is the end product. But when you’re in Italy and your BFFF Kelly comes over with her hubby, Jacbo (aka Jacob), you make (or buy) limoncello and drink it with them! That’s what we did on night one after inexpensive, delicious pasta in the locally infamous, warm underground cockles of Faenza’s finest Spaghetti Notte

No other place I’ve discovered (yet) has sunk into my bones like the warmth after a good soak, leaving me with the wonderful, peaceful feeling of home. Like the stubborn tick I somehow didn’t find for a couple of days after Lisa and I returned from the Apenninos (shudder), Faenza and the surrounding areas have burrowed in and hidden out. But in the case of Faenza, I’m in no hurry to freak out and chuck it in the toilet with a very girly shriek. In fact, I’d rather the feeling never left.

So, trying to put into words the joy of having my BFFF of twenty years (and her easygoing, hilarious hubby) here with me is like akin to fitting all the crap I’ve bought into my suitcase. It’s a challenge — because I’ve been hopping the ol’ pond over here since 2009 and only now have the cosmos aligned to get all of us here at once.

Therefore, of course, we packed so much into just a few days, like an overstuffed calzone — or, in Faenza, a delectable, lard-ridden flatbread of sorts called a crescione. I decided the perfect introduction to these lovely lands was just a ten minute train ride away: charming Brisighella with its old mulattierra (mule road)…IMG_0028… some of the most flavorful local olive oil I’ve unearthed yet and a quaint shop for tasting and spending way too much money in…IMG_0021… a castle to ogle at…IMG_0053… and a bright, airy spot where the castle can ogle us while we lay into aperitivo!IMG_0058

After Kelly and Jacbo attempted to sleep off their jet lag, we climbed aboard the scenic, slow regional train through the Apenninos to Firenze. On the way, I fondly pointed out Marradi, where Lisa and I departed for our hike in a cool tornado.

In Florence, we burst forth from the train into crowds of other foreigners, their languages mixing together at stoplights like an exotic casserole. We headed to our hotel via a quieter street or two…

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At one of the numerous bridges over the Arno — forced to soak in the terrible view, I suppose — we were held up by another river of neon-clad runners. Many of them had such pained expressions I wondered if maybe a bear was chasing them and that was the only reason for keeping on… 🙂

DCIM101GOPROAfter threading through an antiques market that charmed my neon Icebreaker socks off, we entered the massive doors to our expansive, classy hotel in Piazza Santo Spirito. IMG_0075

On the top floor, the welcoming older man at the front desk led us out onto the airy terrazza to test my Italian skills/proudly point out all the sights from the rooftop. As we waited for our room to be ready, we wandered back to the street and found arancine, roasted vegetables and a creamy mushroom lasagna that was richer than a whole boat full of Medici royals. We brought our spoils back up to the terrazza and paired them with the view and a bottle of (slightly warm) Trebbiano from my backpack.

DCIM101GOPROWhen the room was ready, I was greeted there by two ghosts who turned out to be Jacbo and Kelly…

DCIM101GOPROThen we merged into the stream of tourists and the sightseeing got real. We marched our poor little feets off checking out Galleria Uffizzi, Piazza della Signoria, Santa Croce and on and on… at the David we stood with the throngs, dodging selfie sticks, making wise cracks about certain features on the David because we are adult juveniles…

DCIM101GOPROAt Piazza del Duomo, we gazed upon both the beauty of the green and white church and the line wrapping from its (free) entrance and almost entirely around it like a very thirsty, sweaty, bored snake. Then, I heard my name.

DCIM101GOPROI turned to see one of the Experience Plus clients I’d met the day before putting on an all day picnic at work. The Venice to Pisa tour always stops through the Farm (Experience Plus’ European hub, an old pig barn converted into offices, rooms, bike shop and warehouse) for a locally sourced feast. And apparently the tour was still flitting about Florence — what a small world 🙂

And how did she recognize me? “I saw your hair,” she said. Those of you who’ve been on top of this blog like mozzarella slices on pizza will remember the last time my hair flagged someone down was on the side of Interstate 70 in Colorado, post-fender bender…

Apres-Duomo, we simply had to log in more time on the terrazza with a complimentary aperitivo…

DCIM101GOPROEarlier, Kelly spotted a cute spot for dinner later and I popped in to make us a reservation. On the way to dinner, we tried to swing into Pitti Palace and the lovely Boboli gardens — but (what a Pitti), it was already closed. Nonetheless, we made good use of the fading sunshine and a flat spot to people watch…

DCIM101GOPROLater, belly full of fresh, handmade gnocchi in a gorgonzola cream sauce with arugula, a fresh salad, tiramisu and a local, dark, peppery-anise herbal amaro (a traditional bitter digestive liquor), I couldn’t have been happier. Kelly and Jacob, across a tranquil sea of empty plates and smudged wine glasses, appeared equally sated.

The espresso powder on the top of the tiramisu was Florence at night, with quieter streets on our side of the river and plenty of time to enjoy the lights from Ponte Vecchio dancing off the Arno…

In the wee hours of the night, strange sounds abounded outside our ground level room. The whole spacious building magnified sounds like an accidental megaphone; the yelling youths seemed to drunkenly serenade us from the foot of our beds. In the piddly light of dusk, any number of someones opened creaky doors inches from our faces. And a strange procession of rustling plastic — like the biggest and most poorly executed murder cover up/disposal of dead bodies — filled the space where sleep should have been.

DCIM101GOPROAt last we arose, drug ourselves up to the top floor for an expansive breakfast in an elegant room with lace curtains, white walls and tall, stately ceilings. Over-caffeinated (except Kelly, who’s all about the tea) and under-rested, we headed back to the train station to catch a late morning train to Roma.

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In Roma the big city washed over us like a sweaty, swarthy breeze that carried us all the way from the bowels of the sprawling stazione, through the baffling intestines of la metropolitana. We burst forth in a tide of humans and accordion music into the embrace of the hot Roman sunshine.

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On the next Sylva Lining… are you Forum or against ’em? We were definitely on the side of wearing ourselves out and seeing every possible bit of Roma. Stay tuned!

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4 Replies to “A Florence Returns to Florence”

  1. Thanks for sharing the adventures. The pics of you three are great!

    1. Hi Sandi! Thanks for reading, we had way too much fun adventuring 🙂

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