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Report 1920: Rome, Tuscany, Venice & Amalfi for Beginners

By nikkihop from USA, Summer 2011

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Page 6 of 16: June 5, 2011 Day Five: the Ufizzi and a Rainy Day in Florence

photo by nikkihop

Raining in Florence

Tired from my long day of walking, I slept until 9:00 the next morning. Now jet-lag free, DB was up early and went to pick up our tickets for the Ufizzi Gallery, which was about 100 feet across the Piazza della Signoria. I showered in our palatial bathroom and got ready without hearing a peep from the girls' bedroom. DB returned and again dragged the girls out of bed. A little tired of the grumbling and frustrated by their lack of enthusiasm, I went to get a croissant and a coffee to go while we waited for them. DB is a saint for letting me have some alone time. We all met at the Ufizzi.  

DG1 never really recovered from the fact that she had to get up by 8:30am. An admittedly type-A traveler, I had downloaded a self-guided audio tour courtesy of Rick Steves on DB's and my iPods as well as a couple of extras for the girls. DG2 was quite happily plugged in on the tour, but DG1 drifted behind until a leaking water bottle in her bag gave her the excuse she needed to bug out and wait for us in the cafe. The rest of us saw the Ufizzi, including the Venus on the Half Shell and wonderful sculptures. Once the tour was over, we had a snack in the rooftop cafe and wandered the museum a bit more before heading to the Duomo piazza for lunch.  

We stopped in to a trattoria/cafe called Il Ristoro for lunch. Our waiter adored DB2 with her sweet face and dark hair and took every opportunity to call her sweetie, honey, darling.  We all ordered food at counter and Luigi our loving waiter brought it to us at some delightfully air-conditioned tables at the back of the trattoria. Collectively, we ordered grilled, stuffed pomodoro, a beef and zuchini panini (me), a salami and cheese panini, caprese salad for DG2 and a vegetable calzone for DG1.  Cost: about €27. We walked around the Duomo rather than going in because of crazy lines (only open from 1:30 until 4:30pm on Sunday, so everyone was making the most of the day) and hit the gold stores to window shop on the Ponte de Vecchio.  I wanted a gold charm for my charm bracelet, but the €380 price tag on every tiny charm was too much for me.

We crossed the river and walked the hundreds of stairs to the Piazzale Michelangelo for the best view of Florence.  Gorgeous, until the sky cracked open and DG1 and I took shelter in a pitch black church (Sant' Niccolo) to wait it out.  DB and DG2 took shelter in a small portico outside the church.  Inside the church, hundreds of people piled in, but the roof leaked. At least it kept the hail off our heads.  I sat down with my handy iPad to blog and DG1 contemplated our position in case a tornado hits.  It didn't.  We eventually ran outside to hook up with DB and DG2 and all sat down to blog, text, mess with our fancy cameras and lament the fact that three of us were wearing white.

Since it rained every day at 4:00pm, we thought the rain would stop if we just waited it out.  We waited. And waited.  No sign of stopping.  Finally, we decided to call a taxi, or at least the apartment concierge, so he could call a taxi for us, but our sweet concierge told me in halting English that it was probably not possible.  When it rains, everyone takes a taxi, and the likelihood that he could get one to drive up to San Niccolo on the Mount was slim.  Maybe if we walked down to Michelangelo's plaza?

We walked down to the plaza and found an American couple who called a taxi and had been waiting an hour.  So, we hiked up our sodden white capri pants and started hoofing it through the rain to the bottom of the hill, where we found another miracle in the form of a wine bar tended by another good looking waiter.  We adopted a new motto: when it rains, we pour.  Three glasses of cabernet later, we ran the mile back to our apartment, giggling.

We had a dinner reservation at 7:30 at Trattoria Nella, which we made in person the day before.  It would be another miracle if we could all shower and and hoof it over to the restaurant in time.  

Military showers and a short walk later, we discovered that despite our miraculous bathing abilities, many restaurants, including our own, shut down when it rains because of poor tourist flow.  The proprietor waved us off lazily with a shrug, saying something like, "problem with the kitchen." DB makes a half hearted attempt to negotiate ... 'we made a reservation!' Another shrug.  Dejectedly, we stumbled off to find food to soak up the wine we drank earlier.

We fell into the first tourist trap restaurant we found that was open, the Bar La Borsa.  We were seated outside, but our table was under a large portico and dry.  Our waiter was friendly, and apparently has an ex girlfriend from Austin, Texas. I found this hard to believe, but it was a good ploy to garner a big tip. He joked and then followed every joke with Jay, kaaay!.  Jaaay kaaay (text talk for just kidding).  Oddly, he called DG2 Jennifer all night (not her name ... not even in the ballpark) and flirted outrageously, which worked somewhat to put everyone in a better mood.  We ordered two more bottles of wine, the largest diet coke you've ever saw, four misti insalatas, fettuchini with prosciutto, tagliatari with zucchini, a pizza margherita, a pizza with prosciutto and funghi, and a sausage pizza for a grand total of €96.

We switched tables to get away from a table full of smokers, only to have two French tourists seated next to us later who plow through three cigarettes each in 30 minutes.  We're done with our meal by the time the last one is lit and DB and I opened our umbrella behind us to block the fumes.  Yes, I know its childish and probably as rude as trying to inflict lung cancer on your dinner neighbors with second hand smoke. However, but by that time, we had four bottles of wine in us for the day and no more friendly tolerance for the masses of smokers in Italy.  Miracle number three happens when we asked if we could take a bottle of wine to go and our waiter just gave us one without making us pay for it.  We shuffled cheerfully home in the rain and eventually went to bed.

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