Buongiorno Florence!

Black and white portraits of Fabio, our host in Florence, Italy.

Black and white portraits of Fabio, our host in Florence, Italy.

Italy, Day 12

(Spoiler Alert! You might want to start with Day 1 to follow this trip from the beginning...

Almost two weeks into this vacation, we are beginning to realize the work that goes into keeping up with this blog. We steal time for writing and editing photos wherever we can, oftentimes very late into the night or when we are simply too exhausted to take in any more of the sights and sounds of Italy.

On the bright side, it has given me a whole new respect for the few food and design blogs that I follow on a regular basis.

Conversely, I can't help but mention that we really miss our fast, reliable internet connection back home though.

There I said it, we're officially whiny Americans.

In light of all that, I should point out that the above photos are of our host in Florence, Fabio, were taken the day before this entry. See what I did there?

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After breakfast that Sunday, our morning's run took us straight up again where we were rewarded with a spectacular panorama of Florence from the cemetery at the Basilica of San Miniato. The family tomb of renowned movie director Franco Zeffirelli is located here.

Side Note: Zeffirelli directed many memorable films, one of which was the 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet. I feel compelled to share that I remember this film well as I had to get a permission slip to watch it in high school because of the nude scenes. There were a lot of girl boobs and a bit of perky boy butt. Scandalous!

After showering, we cobbled together a healthy on-the-go lunch from a couple local markets and walked down the street to tour the Boboli Gardens. The Gardens, behind the Pitti Palace, the main seat of the Medici grand dukes of Tuscany at Florence, are some of the first and most familiar formal 16th century Italian gardens. (Don't be impressed with my knowledge of Tuscan history, that last line is straight from Wikipedia, I didn't even have the decency to paraphrase.)

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Truth be told, we almost didn't make the trip to visit the gardens after a few less than stellar tripadvisor reviews but, fortunately, it was a perfect way to spend a balmy afternoon in Florence. As we ventured further into the heart of the gardens, the sweeping views across the space were simply incredible. I feel certain that anyone that failed to see the beauty of this place just simply didn't make it past the rear entrance.

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We toured the expansive grounds for hours including the Porcelain Museum, or Museo delle Porcellane, where hundreds of tiny figurines and sculpted scenes (some gifted, others commissioned) lined the walls of each room. We exited onto the Piazza Pitti which, by that time, was filled with tourists resting in the sun after a long day of exploring Italy.

Late that afternoon we journeyed the few blocks back to our apartment and worked on updating the blog for a bit. Did I mention how much work this site is? Si, prego. Insert Italian wink here.

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That night we took our first taxi of the trip out to Fabio's family-owned restaurant in the nearby countryside. It is one of Florence's oldest restaurants and has been in his family more than 150 years. Today he manages the historic eatery alongside his brother and nephew in addition to hosting guests at a few of his properties.

Our driver dropped us at the courtyard entrance to Trattoria Bibe, glowing from within in warm candlelight and cheerful faces. We were indeed the only Americans to visit the secluded spot and were surrounded by German, French and Italian voices in all directions.

Fabio greeted us as we were shown to our table and helped us choose from the night's menu. We settled upon (and here I paraphrase) a breaded zucchini flower appetizer, cheese soufflé, fried chicken (apparently their specialty) with steamed vegetables and pork ribs. The meal was delicious. We chased it down with a selection of decadent desserts and, well, you know, espressos. Si.

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After arranging our trip back to the apartment, we said goodbye to Fabio and prepared ourselves to pack our bags once more. It was most excellent to meet Florence and we could finally check it off the list and put a gold star near it's name.

And while I don't want to suggest that any of our time in Italy was less than stellar, we would be leaving in the morning for a highly anticipated leg of the trip. The Tuscan countryside at Pienza, not to mention our stay at La Bandita Townhouse, awaited. And, I have to admit, they were both beginning to call our names...