Posts Tagged ‘golden view open bar’

Golden View, Open Bar

May 18th, 2009

May 18th

pharm_smWe did email for awhile this morning after breakfast and then left around 10:00 am to head to the market where my parents bought lots of scarfs.  We did some more shopping in the market, I love that place!  We made our way towards Santa Maria Novella train station as my Mom wanted to visit one of the oldest Pharmacies that is nearby it.  It took us some time to finally find that place, and along the way shopped some stores inside the train station, where my mom bought a cd of organ music as a souvenir, and I bought a live Radiohead cd as well as an Eels cd.  We finally found the pharmacy and it was room after room of history of herbs and remedies and even some fresco’s.  It is one of the oldest businesses to still exist with the same name, having started around the 1600’s.

We ate lunch next door at a curbside cafe and had a pizza.

3seg_smWe went back to have our 3 hour tour, via segway, of Florence.  I was really excited about this.  I have heard so much about them, and how much fun segways can be, plus I am a fan of Gob and his segway riding ways.  I thought this was going to be an awesome way to travel around from site to site and see the city.  Plus, with a tour guide, I was happy to perhaps be learning something new.

I love traveling to places I went back in 1997, because I learned so much before, and it is nice to share the little tidbits that I have learned, with those that I travel with now.  I really feel that the history, the cities, the architecture, and the overall travel experience comes to life when you know just a little bit more about a church, about a work of art, about a time of life.  When it isn’t just a painting anymore, but about a cultural struggle to find relevance and to survive harsh times.  And although I learn a little bit more on these trips, most times its just a rehashing, or a remembering of things I have already learned.  So I was really looking forward to the time with the tour guide.

debbiesegway_smThe segway tour did not start well though.  My Dad was the first one to get the little training session, and he was very shaky and hesitant at first.  He would push and tug on the segway and move really herky jerky like around in a little circle.  The tour guide stood next to him to make sure he didn’t get out of control at all.

So now that my Dad got it down, it was my Mom’s turn to step onto the segway.  She had noticed my dad’s hesitations, and decided to go balls out in learning.  She was much more convicted in her pursuit, and went for it.  However, the trainer did not stay near, and did not give her proper verbal instruction, and before we knew it, she was bailing off the back, twisting her body, falling on the hard cobblestone with a segway almost falling on top of her.  It was a very awkward fall with a twisting knee and body, and a painful thud on the stones that were laid in the street thousands of years earlier.

We lifted her and her bloody cut open knee of the cement, and my Dad walked her back to the hotel while the rest of us did our training.  My dad came back and we then took off for our tour.  There was another couple, then myself, Dad, and Lisa.  We started at the Duomo and the bapitstry doors.  The square was filled with people, and I thought to myself “I’ve had a hard enough time walking on two legs in this square, how am I supposed to control a segway.”  But I managed.  It’s really like Lisa told me.  She said that you just stand there and merely think about which direction you want to head, and the segway magically takes you in that direction.  We hit major stops, learning new things along the way.  Every new stop, my Dad would ask our tour guide a question.  Even though she corrected him every time, every time he would mis-pronounce her name.  And his question at every stop, was about jewelry stores, angel pins, and cross necklaces.

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We went by church’s, the river Arno, the ponte vecchio, the uffizi.  We were showed the flood lines when the city has flooded in the past.  Ironically, the last two major floods in the city, both occurred in November.  So don’t travel there in that month.

clowndebbie_smWe were shown the fashionable district, we passed the ferrari store where I took a picture for Juan (though, I don’t think I ever sent it to him).  I learned about the Strozzi family, and the opposition they had with the Medici’s.  Our tour guide showed us these “wine windows” that were about a foot or two off the ground, on some of these palaces.  Apparently, when the palace owners had had enough wine for themselves, they would stick the bottle out these little wine windows, where the peasant waiting there, the citizen waiting there, could then have some wine of their own.

I want a wine window.

We also learned, that the Piazza Republica began as the Jewish ghetto, and a flower and food market.  That it is the exact center of town.  And that the Arch building and the saying on it, is hated by most Florentines.

We learned that in the Piazza Signoria, that most of the statues are still, in fact, the originals.  Even though yesterday at the Accademia, we saw “the rape of the sabine woman,” that that one, inside the museum, was actually the copy.  The original still stood in the square.

We learned that at the top of the Santa Croce church, there is a star of david, and that the architect was jewish.

We also went by the little studio where Michelangelo carved his david statue.  By the way, on this trip I read the wikipedia entry on David, and learned a whole lot about it.  For instance, did you know that the 26 year old Michelangelo beat out Leonardo Da Vinci, to carve the statue?

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After our great tour (surprisingly, dad’s and my legs were rather sore), we went back to the hotel.  Our hotel was one of the stops along the tour.  Apparently they had renovated it and found that it used to be a look out tower, it used to be a roman bath, and it used to be a prison.  Part of it was now a museum and you could climb down the stairs to see it.  It was rather cool.  I liked this hotel a lot.   It was perfect location and had great service.  You can read my review of it…if I ever finish these journal entries and write my reviews.

openbarnight2_smWe changed and cleaned up for our dinner reservations.  We had made reservations for the open bar, golden view restaurant again, even though Lisa and I had eaten there 2 nights earlier.  The view was unbeatable, and the food was delicious, so we thought it would be a grand evening.  With live music starting at 9pm, we made reservations for 8pm.

We took our time walking there, taking pictures on the ponte vecchio, looking at jewelry stores for my mom, and enjoying each others company and the beauty around us.

We arrived at our reservation, and they had a window seat prepared for us, and glasses of champagne.  The windows were open and we were basically in a little open terrace, with the river and the bridge right next to us.  It was breathtaking.  We took many pictures, and got started on the first of what became three bottles of the vino della casa rossa.  Yum.

The meal and our time was very precious.  My mom would remark the next day that it would be one of the half dozen meals that she remembers for the rest of her life.  We laughed, we told stories, lisa told some great jokes (who tells jokes about organ musicians, and funnier yet that my mom would know it), and we drank and ate till we could eat and drink no more.

Black truffles were in season, and our waiter told us how they train dogs to retrieve truffles.  We decided to give them a try in our appetizers on top of crostini.  We also had a cheese plate with different melon, a pear and honey spreads.  Had a great and weird pasta noodle with bits of octopus.   I’m getting hungry again thinking about it.  I think I better wait to show the food till I do my food picture review post soon.

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We enjoyed all of our foods, including the steak florentine that my Dad had longed for.  We lingered.  We finished 3 bottles of wine, had desert, enjoyed the live jazz music.  It was a gorgeous night.  We lingered over 3 hours there, telling stories, getting to know our waiter, enjoying the food, the fun, and the company.

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Just Her Type

Afterwards, around 11:30 pm or so, we walked back to the area of our hotel.  We laughed.  We stumbled.  We fed a pig a coin.  We looked at the chalk drawings on the ground.

Lisa went back to bed (after our gelato stop), but Debbie, Steve and I found ourselves in a street, where a street performer was trying his trade.  However, the best part of his act was when a garbage man came down the street he was working.  Obscenities ensued.

We grabbed walked back to our hotel.  It was a beautiful night.

 

 

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Quest For The Perfect Pizza

May 16th, 2009

May 16th 

mercato_smIt was kind of odd, being in a big city again.  It kind of felt like I was in civilization again.  That isn’t a good or a bad thing, it just felt like there was a large town now, and lots of people.

I really wanted to get some items posted to my site, so we spent a good chunk of time this morning on the Internet in our hotel’s bar.

After that we started heading out into the streets, walking around, enjoying sunny Florence.  Two days ago on our hike in the Cinque Terre, Lisa lost her sunglasses.  And today, when we left the hotel, I had forgotten mine.  So we hit up a sunglass store and shopped around.  We now both have some european shades to add flair to our trip.

We continued across the duomo piazza, past the rustic building, to the central mercato.  In Florence, they have 4 or 5 blocks that are just street vendor after street vendor.  Often times, the vendor’s push cart is merely in front of their store that is in the building behind them.  Some pushcarts are selling leather wallets, others are selling leather purses or belts.  Some sell souvenir tshirts, while others sell glass or necklaces.

I love this part of Florence.  It is kind of like a giant flea market or swap meet if you will.  11 years ago when I was here, we’d have to walk through this market every day to get to the park where our group would eat our lunch of nutella, bananas and cold cuts.  I have very fond memories of walking through here.  Plus, I love shopping here cause you can barter and find cool items.  Today I bought some soccer jerseys, a belt and a wallet.

I had some friends going to Florence 10 years ago and they bought me a wallet.  It is a wallet I have used since then.  Of course it has been falling apart for a few years, but I said I needed to replace it with one from Florence.  Today I did.

pizzabargello_smWe followed this up with lunch near Piazza Della Signoria.  This piazza is near an old fortress/palace which is now a governmental building and a museum.  In this piazza are replica statues of David and many others.    We had a pizza and it was one of the best yet.

This is a good time to talk about my pizza quest (if I haven’t already).  Once again, 11 years ago, I ate pizza in Italy, mainly in southern Italy (Brindisi, Rome…) and it was amazing.  I will never forget it.  It was not like pizza at all.  I would cut into the dough, which was soggy with its toppings.  As soon as I would cut into it, the pizza would practically drain off.  It was like a big doughy, tomato-y, cheesy soup.  Since then I have always held, that pizza in italy is so entirely different than we have come to know it in the states.  

During this trip, the pizza has been delicious, and different from the states, but nowhere near what I remember.  I am on a search for the perfect, soupy pizza.

Today’s pizza was much soupier, but still not the same.  Though, I have developed a theory on this trip.  The pizza has gotten better, the further south in Italy we have travelled.  I think it might be a regional thing.  Much like their sauces are regional (creamy base to tomato base), maybe their pizza is too.  Do I really have to travel back to Brindisi to experience this again?

obarwine_smWe were still sore from our hike a couple of days ago, and still interested in finding a massage to work those kinks out.  We asked our concierge and the best they had to offer was having the masseuses come to our room.  I’ve never done that before, and it was a little weird having it in our own room, but of course once I slipped off into relax mode, I forgot all about that.

After our massages, we were in our room, and we heard a lot of clatter from the street below us.  We looked out our window and the street was packed with people, in orderly lines and groups, like a giant marching band.  It was like a parade, but it was a protest.  It was a giant protest march.  The signs they were carrying spoke of communism, of schools, of 1972.  They were singing, chanting, clapping, playing drums and instruments.  It stretched from the Duomo, all the way to Piazza Signoria.

obarview_smFor dinner tonight, we went to the Golden View, Open Bar restaurant which is just on the other side of the Arno.  It was spectacular.  Great views, great food, lovely company.  The restaurant was all white and had a really bright and cheery atmosphere.  We started our meal with some mixed Crostini.  Our second course was some Gnocchi for Lisa, and some Penne for me.  Then, Lisa had some Chicken I believe that she loved, and I had a giant steak Florentina.  I figured, when in Florence…

All were extremely delicious, and the wine and service were great too.  It was unbeatable.

We walked home happy and satisfied, taking pictures of the river, the bridge, and all the crazy town folk.

 

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This Week I'm Thinking About: Doug Kyle