We made it to Florence in about two hours, with hotel reservations for the Hotel Duomo, which is right across the way from the famous Duomo tourist attraction. The last leg of the trip had us travelling by foot since the Duomo is in a pedestrian-only zone. This made for tricky navigating, as our directions fell apart at a roundabout we wound up taking many times, each time attempting a different direction and each time, failing. It was hot and the kids were becoming unglued, as was the pattern with each destination.
I entered the pedestrian zone with our car and floods of tourists spilled across the road. That, with the frequent sitings of the polizei had me very nervous. We parked, I got out, found the hotel, got directions to move the car, moved the car, and put on the four-ways just outside the hotel.
The room was small, but clean and air conditioned, and we got settled. This was the first of three days where Charlotte missed her vital afternoon nap, and so she and Lily were completely manic, bouncing and shrieking on the bed. We made our way out on the street, in search of food.
Like other parts of Europe, much of Florence was vacated for the month of August. So many shops were closed, and the locals were gone. The restaurant we found served pretty crappy food, but we got through it, and enjoyed some peace out on a veranda while pigeons cleaned the scrap off other plates left behind on the tables. I had some Rosé from a plastic bottle, and sub-standard pizza.
We then went in search of the Academia Galleria, where Michelangelo’s David can be seen. We passed by the museum the first time, as it was on a small side-street and we expected more fanfare around it. We had our bags X-rayed in the museum, paid our fare, and got to see it alongside a Mapplethorpe exhibit. It was great to soak-in some epic art, and from here we continued on, hoping to get to the Ponte Vecchio (a famous bridge, where high-end jewelry merchants have set up shop for hundreds of years).
The heat and energy of the girls dissuaded us though, and we went back to the hotel to chill for a bit. I have a copy of the kids’ movie “Enchanted” downloaded on my laptop, so we got that going and watched from the bed. I opened a Montepulciano I picked up in a grocery store; Dawn was restless though and chose to leave the hotel with Charlotte in the backpack. After 15 minutes or so, she came back and insisted I come out with her. I was very glad I did.
That night, we fell in love with Florence. We started in a gallery square, where the girls rode an old carousel, then had dinner at a nearby restaurant, outside. Our waiters were charming and served us nice white wine; Charlotte ate pasta with her hands, and all the other guests seemed enamored of the girls, which made us relaxed. A family of four from Portland sat next to us, and we discussed our time in Como.
After dinner we roamed the streets, and took in all the romance of the candlelit cafes, bars, and restaurants – what a city. We were out until 10 or so, and the girls hit the sack pretty hard back at the hotel.