We’ve been in Florence, Italy for almost a week now. It has been almost three weeks since we sold our house. It went by so quickly. I think this year abroad will be the same way.
My first impression of Firenze (Finn said we should use the name the locals use – good advice) is that it is the color of butter: pale yellow, saffron, cream, goldenrod, ochre, and amber. When I look at my Instagram page, there is a definite color trend.
Our Airbnb apartment is pretty good. I don’t love everything about it, but I’d probably feel that way about any place. It is clean and well outfitted, close to the Duomo, Piazza Della Signoria, and just about every other tourist sight, and there are two bedrooms. The biggest downside is that there is no outside to send the boys into. We are on a little stone street, like every street in Firenze, and it’s just not a good spot for unattended young kids. That’s something we will look for in our next rental.
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I didn’t love the city right off. I was awed and interested, but overwhelmed. It’s a hard city. The streets are stone and canyon-like; the stone and stucco buildings are incredibly tall. When we came in from the airport, I couldn’t believe our taxi driver could make the 90-degree turns from one narrow street to the next. There is no vegetation, not even weeds coming through the space between stones.
Now that I have been walking around, I see parks and window boxes. Some of the restaurants put out potted plants to soften the atmosphere. On our second day we strolled around the Boboli Gardens for a couple hours. I definitely needed that nature fix.
We’ve been to a couple museums and churches. All magnificent. We’ve learned about Leonardo da Vinci’s life, art, and inventions at an interactive kids’ museum. We’ve seen where Dante, da Vinci, Galileo, Michelangelo, Rossini, and Machiavelli, among other Italian greats, are entombed. Anders rode the carousel and Finn and bought Rice Crispies (apparently, oats for oatmeal are not a thing here. Nor muesli.) We’ve shopped at the Central Market for mushrooms, tomatoes, and fish. I’d like to say we’ve eaten out a lot, but until we are high-earning YouTube stars, we are sticking to our own kitchen for the most part.
Since we are traveling for a year, we are trying to find the balance between laying low, working, living a “normal” life, and not missing anything. I’ve been reading a great book about Tuscany and Umbria recommended by my friend Mariann. It is half guidebook, half essay collection, and filled with reminders to take it easy and let Italy seep into you. I am working on that. I think a road trip around Tuscany would help get us out and explore more.
The thing about Firenze, and I am not the first to say this, is that art and history are everywhere you look. Last night we sat outside, drinking wine and munching on plate after plate of potato chips our waiter kept bringing out. The little bar is about a 30-second walk from our apartment. It’s lovely, but not anything jaw-dropping by Firenze standards. Even there we noticed the stone building we’d passed time after time on our walks was actually a tower, compete with holes for shooting arrows through. An iron dragon must have once held a torch to light the narrow passage. The windows of the building next to us were stained glass. Art and history are really everywhere here in Florence, Italy.
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