Merry Christmas from Firenze

December 25 – Roma to Firenze

Scary Santa in the Window by Justin Korn

Well, it’s Christmas and it was another travel day for me. Knowing most things were going to be closed, today was intentionally setup as a travel day.

I decided there was no point in waking up particularly early, so I slept in until 10:30am and asked for a late checkout. After checking out, I took the metro for the first time in Rome (I don’t know if I mentioned it, but I had been walking around everywhere while in Rome). From the one ride I took, I got the impression that the Rome metro system was very similar to the San Francisco BART system. After two stops, I was at the main train station, 2 hours before my scheduled departure. I decided to check and see how easy it would be to change tickets for an earlier train. Sure enough, it was as simple as asking. In a matter of minutes, I was departing an hour earlier at 12:30pm.

The train ride was a painless 1.5 hour trip. When I arrived, I checked with the information desk on where exactly my hotel was and apparently it was around the corner, a few blocks away. I had a little trouble finding the street I was suppose to be looking for since it was hiding behind a church, but eventually I found it and checked in to Hotel Balcony. I think I have the smallest bathroom in the entire world, but, other then that, the place is simple and fits my needs. They have free wireless, but only in the lobby, which is better then nothing.

After unpacking and making myself at home, I set out to checkout my immediate surroundings. I quickly realized how small Florence really is. The immediate area was dead (not surprising) with only a few people walking around. I stopped for some food at Nutti Ristorante and ended up having pizza (Marinara which is tomato sauce with garlic and basil, no cheese) and a beer. On the way back to the hotel, I picked up some gilato and then jumped online at the hotel and planned out the next few days.

With Lust till the End by Justin KornOnce settled on what I needed to see and do, I set back out to explore a little more with my camera. It was about 6pm at this point, so the sun was down. Surprisingly, the city had come to life and people were all over the place. All of the shops were closed and a few restaurants were open, but people were out and about, walking around, window shopping, and enjoying the rather cold evening. I made my first stop at Piazza della Signoria which was crawling with tourist. Piazza della Signoria contains Fontanadi Nettuno and the Loggia dei Lanzi. The lighting on the Loggia dei Lanzi was quite dramatic and very dark. Since the piazza was completely empty of anything to set my small Gorillapod on, I was unable to setup a shot to take a shot with a tripod, but I’m still hoping I was able to capture the mood the lighting set.

Santa Croce at Night by Justin KornFrom Piazza della Signoria, I went over to Piazza Santa Croce which was completely the opposite with nearly no one around and only a solitary church, Santa Croce, at the end of the piazza. Apparently Sata Croce houses the tomb of Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Galileo and others. I’m hoping to make it back here for an internal visit in the next few days. While here, there were a few places I was able to setup my tripod, so I took a few long exposures of the church from several different angles.

After, I back tracked a bit back through Piazza della Signoria to Plazza della Repubblica. Here, people were going this way and that and was very similar to Plazza Navona in that there were a few people selling balloons and other toys along with a carousel at one end of the plaza. I spent some time taking a few pictures (what else?) and eventually moved on to see if the few recommended restaurants I had taken with me were open. Not surprisingly, they were all closed, so I made my way back to the hotel, changed my clothes to my “evening” attire and headed back to the area were I had lunch.

I ended up settling on a place across from the place I had lunch, ironically also named Nutti, but this place was Nutti Pizzeria. Again, ironically, I had pizza for lunch at the restaurant, so I ended up getting Bruschetta and Spaghetti Carrettiera along with the house red wine. I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed in the Bruschetta. I’m not sure if it was this place or if Burschetta in the States is just different then what you find in Italy. In any case, the spaghetti was awesome. Carrettiera is tomato sauce with chilly pepper. It actually wasn’t very spicy, but it was very good. After dinner, I headed back toward the place I got gelato from earlier since I know I saw at least three other places over that direction. Sure enough, I found a place open and got myself another helping of gelato. Interestingly, I noticed, of the three places I have been for gelato so far, all three have been very different. Chocolate ice cream in the states is generally the same form place to place (not exactly, but generally, you know what to expect)…here, the chocolate can vary dramatically from place to place (or at least that has been my experience so far). In any case, the gelato was very good once again and I enjoyed every last bite on the walk back to my hotel.

We’ll see what tomorrow holds for me tomorrow.

Till next time…

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Categorized: Travel Diaries