Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 679: A Student in Florence
By colleenk from MA, Spring 2004
Page 11 of 16: Last Day of School
Thursday, May 6, 2004
Because I felt that there was still so much I wanted to see (and, OK, shop for) in Florence and only a little time left, I decided that I would end my classes today instead of Friday. I felt OK about this decision, unusual for me with my normal Catholic guilt thing usually kicking in, because Marco said that our class moved so quickly that we had already covered what he usually covers in 2 weeks. So I sadly said my goodbyes to my classmates and wonderful teacher, took photos and exchanged email addresses. But now I had a whole day and a half ahead of me to spend any way I wanted to. Yipee - I felt like a kid on the first day of summer vacation! Too bad the weather didn't feel like summer.
It was a rather cold and rainy day, so I treated myself to the hot chocolate at Gilli Café on Piazza della Repubblica. It was really more like a drinkable version of thick chocolate pudding and was unbelievably good. The next day I would do a taste comparison at Rivoire in the beautiful Piazza della Signoria and would have to say that Gilli’s hot chocolate was a tad better. I did get my hot chocolate at Rivore with whipped cream however, so it was not really an equal taste test. You couldn’t go wrong at either if you’re a chocoholic like me.
Today was the day I also broke down and bought the beautiful leather bound scrapbook at Lilium, Via del Proconsolo, 7R. I think this is my favorite purchase of the trip.
But then again there are the most exquisite pieces of ceramics I also bought that day at Rampini Ceramics, Borgo Ognissanti, 32/34. I had thoroughly scoped out numerous ceramics shops before settling on this shop to finally purchase some pieces I could carry home with me. On a previous scouting visit, I had visited the Ognissanti church right next door. I had the special experience of having the whole church to myself for a while and it was so peaceful. There are frescoes by Ghirlandaio and Boteicelli here and Botticelli is buried here. Definitely worth a visit if you’re in the neighborhood. I cannot say enough about the beauty and quality of the ceramics at Rampini.
There were a few other stores that I also thought had lovely pieces: Ceramiche San Lorenzo, Via Borgo s. Lorenzo, 29r (near the Duomo), Ditta Luca della Robbia, Via del Proconsolo, 19r (near the Bargello) and Galleria Ponte Vecchio, Via Guiciardini, 104r just over the Ponte Vecchio. But Rampini is where I could have spent a fortune had I not restricted myself to pieces that would fit on my carry on luggage. This store is mainly a showroom for their work as they custom design pieces for you but they also have numerous pieces you can buy. I loved their products so much that once I got home I ordered their catalogue just so I could drool over the artistry of their work.
Home to rest before meeting Camilla and Marian (a fellow Slow Traveler on the message board) for dinner at Ristorante Ricchi, Piazza Santo Spirito, 8R. I had not yet been to Piazza Santo Spirito and thought it was just beautiful in the shadow of the stunning Santo Spirito Church, which unfortunately, I did not get a chance to visit. It was very quiet on this rainy Thursday night. It was wonderful to meet Marion after chatting with her on the message board and she was eager to hear about our school experience, as she would be starting at Koine in a few days.
The meal was very good, a wonderful pasta dish and a sea bass with a palate cleansing sorbet in between. The service was very good and the presentation lovely but it didn’t feel very Italian to me. The setting was contemporary and I felt that I could have been in a nice restaurant in New York or Boston. I am happy to have experienced it but would not feel compelled to return. A little too pricey and chi chi for me. Give me an Italian trattoria such as Mario’s any day over this type of experience. However, it was a very nice evening with good company and I made plans with Marian to meet on Sunday for our excursion to Chiusi and a Slow Travel get together (GTG) lunch in the Tuscan countryside.
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