Friday, June 13, 2008
Back to Florence.....and then Farewell Italia
We left Rome mid morning on a Thursday and hopped onto a train to Florence. When we studied in Florence for a semester and were away for 3 or more days I always remember how we'd get so excited when the train would slow and the Duomo would come into view. It just spoke of how much we loved Florence and how it really was our home for those four months.
The same thing happened when we were pulling into the Santa Maria Novella train station for the last time on our three week stint in Italy. After two weeks of not knowing our way around we were once again back in a city where no maps were required and it didn't take twice as long to get somewhere because we'd get lost. We were back. It was bittersweet in a way though because I knew the next day we'd be waking up at an unGodly hour to fly back to the States.
We quickly found our hotel on via Nazionale....after staying in such great accommodations everywhere else we were stunned by how well...crappy this last hotel was. We knew it wasn't going to be all grand and majestic but we were spoiled by now and not having air conditioning on the top floor of the hotel was brutal. We did have a great view out our window though of the magical red rooftops of Florence and out our front door we could see the rolling hills of Fiesole.
It had gotten noticeably warmer since we were there two weeks prior and we decided to make the most out of our last full day. First we trekked through the San Lorenzo markets (one of my most hated areas bc of all the tourists and foot traffic) to buy a few tshirts. Then we went to Eby's a burrito place we frequented during our semester in Florence. The burritos weren't as great as we remembered but it was a welcome change from all the Italian food we'd been eating.
Afterwards we crossed the river to take one more hike up to Piazzale Michelangelo while the sun was out. On the way through the San Niccolo neighborhood we stumbled upon a Rose Garden that I was sad we had never discovered before. The flowers within the walled garden were beautiful but I couldn't help but think of how hot I was in my 3/4 length shirt and jeans. Once at the top of Piazzale Michelangelo we sat and took in our city one last time.
We talked about when we would make it back....since our next International adventure will more than likely include other countries we've yet to explore. Speaking of not seeing Italy for so long made me sad and even short of breath :-(
On the way back to our hotel we stopped at Chiesa Santa Felicita so we could see my most favorite Renaissance painting! It's Pontormo's "Deposition," and I first fell in love with the painting four years ago when we visited the small unassuming church on an art history field trip. I love that the church isn't well known and that there are never lines or tourists that you have to fight through. It makes me feel special, like we know a secret that most don't :-) The colors are vivid pastels that resonate well with me. I love bright colors....they draw me in!
That evening we met Erin from "The Olive Notes" and her husband Chris. I'd been speaking to her via the blogosphere for just about a year and was excited that we were actually able to meet up. We met in Piazza di San Marco and chatted and walked to the Sant' Ambrogio neighborhood where they introduced us to a great little restaurant where we enjoyed wine and aperitivos. I was even able to sample tartufo for the first time!
Afterwards we waltzed to ChiaroScuro (I was so excited to try this place) which had a wonderful ambiance and so many java combinations to try. I was a little overwhelmed with the options so I opted for the frozen cappuccino that I saw featured on the outdoor sign. It was delicious and I was glad to be able to finally try this place after drooling all over their webpage.
It was the very first time that I had actually met someone in person that I've only spoken to online prior. The experience of doing so was great and it was nice to just pick up where we left off on one another's blogs.
That night we ventured to our favorite gelateria in all of Italy on via Faenza and I ordered "sad gelato" one last time. Cookies and amarena to be exact :-) Alex of course consumed yet another Margherita pizza and we enjoyed a sleepless night of tossing and turning since we knew we had to wake at 5am for an entire 24 hours of international travel.
The trip home was very reminiscent of our first trip home from Italy in '04. We were greeted in the Florentine airport by hoards of American students returning home........lovely. And I had instant deja vu' of what a nightmare that had been for us. With our bags being too heavy and getting charged astronomical fees for it......ugh. We made it through and fought our way through the Charles de Gaulle airport once in Paris. Sprinting through an airport is never fun....it wipes me out emotionally and physically.
In any case we made it home......as Mr. and Mrs. Alex and Eryn Chandler. Looking back at our wedding photos I know that if given the chance we would do it all over again!
It was perfect