Throughout our time in Florence, we have the pleasure of walking a half block from our hotel right into the Piazza della Republicca, one of the main squares in Florence, for almost everything we want to do while we’re here. The Duomo is past the Piazza, and on our day at the Uffizi, we go through this square first. It is our gateway to the western half of Florence. As we wander to the Arno and the Ponte Vecchio, the Piazza della Signoria offers its sculpture and history to us as well.
And as it happens, our visit this year coincides with a small Tuscan festival, situated right on the piazza itself. (See photo from previous post.) Celebrating the upcoming grape harvest, a series of lovely white tents line one side of the piazza, coincidentally in perfect view from my hotel window. Inside these tents, area vendors offer tastings of wine, cheese, honey and other products associated with the good life in Tuscany.
As I begin to browse the offerings inside each vendor’s space, I am drawn to a table with not only several types of wines, but two stacks of books, each a bit more square than a deck of cards, and a bit fatter. These chunky books are filled with resources, one volume for Tuscany, the other for Florence specifically.
I talk with the woman who compiled the books and wrote up the information in each . . . Veronica Ficarelli. To my surprise (and this is one of the delights of my traveling experiences), Veronica and I quickly prove to be quite simpatico, and I see her nearly every day of our stay.
Needless to say, I promptly buy her books, but each day at an appointed time, we meet at the group of tents, exchange e-mails, and plant the seeds of a friendship I hope will flourish in between my trips back to Italy.
Anne and I purchase our wine glass at the festival, which we carry around with us, visiting one wine table and then another,
getting tiny tastes of the various products of the vineyards in the countryside. Before or after our walks we taste and talk . . . a favorite daily ritual.
Our group develops a co-mingling independence, going off in small clumps to this restaurant, that museum, the other gallery. We meet for breakfast in the dining room of our hotel, check in about the day’s activities, planned and spontaneous, and move out to greet the day. Four of us visit perhaps fifteen little restaurants one evening, searching for one that serves steak tartare, finally settling for beef carpaccio instead.
Five or six of us meet up mid-day for an espresso or a cappuccino and something sweet, before or after a visit to my favorite button shop, a writing store one of us spotted during the previous few hours, a dress in the window of a tiny shop down a side street lined with cobblestones.
We can always create our adventures by simply strolling down an unfamiliar lane, turning left instead of right at an already familiar corner.
And then there are the scheduled activities. Next post . . .
9/14 – 6.77 miles registered on my pedometer