Memorized by all the details on the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, the main Cathedral of Florence, I asked my new friend if I could touch it. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that people who lived hundreds of years ago created such beauty that could withstand time and it was there right in front of me. To graze my hands over the grooves of the building had me feeling like I was now a part of history.
Florence is so rich with culture and the contrast of the city by day and by night is just that, day and night. The day is full of tourists and unbearable heat, but thanks to the tourists and unbearable heat, I found myself in line at an organic gelato shop that even made their own cones– Edoardo il Gelato Biologico. After studying the menu intently while I eavesdropped other Americans discussing the weather, I chose vegan almond and decided to try Chianti, mostly out of curiosity and because my Florence native friend said it was his favorite red wine. The Chianti gelato was sweet and wine-y, of course! Delicious, especially since it was wine in gelato form. My biggest battle was eating it before it melted all over my hand.
Another day consisted of me strolling through the Lorenzo Street Market to get lunch. I got there late, so the food shops in Central Market were almost all closed. The important thing is that I managed to get myself a prosciutto sandwich with tomato and mozzarella, my favorite. Walked through the market and and was seduced by all the other food, but there I stood already with my sandwich in hand, admiring pastas of all shapes and sizes. This is where having a travel buddy could have been handy; we could’ve dispersed the collection of food for a joint feast. It’s okay, I acquired prosciutto.
I also took my friend’s suggestion at trying out La Prosciutteria when he found out my deep, deep love for prosciutto. They make sandwiches to order and have prosciutto EVERYWHERE! Slabs of prosciutto hung from the ceiling and if there were craft beer there, I may have thought I died and went to my idea of heaven. I asked the woman who slung sandwiches what she suggested and ended up with a prosciutto sandwich with a truffle spread. Truffle has a very heavy flavor, so I would keep that in my the next time I go around ordering truffle anything. The prosciutto– so salty, so flavorful, so tender, so perfect (I love prosciutto).
By night, my friend would give me a tour of all the different landmarks- from the Piazza della Signoria, home to the “Old Palace,” or what I like to call “The Castle,” and the open-air sculpture gallery to the Piazzale Michelangelo to get a panoramic view of the city. We got wood-fired pizza that contained three different combinations, all involving cured meat, and got to order local craft beer. He even took me to a bar called The Box with the best cocktail I ever had– fresh watermelon with gin– that seemed to play all my favorite musicians! All was so peaceful and calming and even charming at night, when compared to seeing exploring the city in the day.
I could be in love with Florence with it’s history of great artists like Michelangelo and Raphael or it’s random Audrey Hepburn eyes graffiti and Simone D’Auria‘s “I Eat Earth” art installation of spoons. Heck, this wine-heavy city even has a craft beer scene. If it wasn’t for the deathly heat and the infinite amount of stealthy mosquitoes that seemed to have a strong thirst for this foreigners blood, I might have been in love. And that was only the beginning…