We are in Florence! I am borrowing the computer that is in our apartment because the modem stick that I rented is not working on my computer. Not much of a surprise, most things do not work on my computer without a hassle… though I will not digress into how much I hate Windows Vista. It is a beautiful morning here and it is our first morning. We arrived yesterday a little after 1 pm with very little sleep for me and nearly no sleep for Mark and my parents. The apartment is lovely and we found out last night that the streets here are NOISY like you would not believe. We are near the hospital so we get amublances. We are near the duomo so we get late night revelers. As exhausted as we were we did not sleep well. I guess we are way too used to country living where coyotes, owls and frogs are the most noise that we hear.

The flight to Paris was so long I hardly remember it. I dozed, off and on for about 4.5 hours. I kept my eye mask on and my ear plugs in even when I was not sleeping so that I could continue to rest. Mark could not sleep more than a few moments at a time. We spent way too much time taking shuttles around the Paris airport and finally got on a little plane to bring us here to Florence. I napped off and on again for about half an hour and Mark tried without much luck. The Florence airport is very small and it did not take us long to get our luggage and get a cab to the apartment, which is on Via del Oriuolo, about two blocks from Santa Maria del Fiori and the Campanile de Giotto. We met up with the landlord and got settled, then hit the neighborhood to see what there was to see. Mom and dad decided to have an early dinner so Mark and I left them to wander around. We each had a small panino (little sandwich, mine had a bit of speck, cheese and arugula, Mark had tomatoes, mozzarella and basil) and an espresso. We felt a bit better and so we trekked around trying to get our barings. We went past the house of Dante, the Ponte Vecchio, the Piazza del Signoria which is near the uffizi and filled with statues, and we gazed upon the Arno river.

Mom and dad retired around 6 pm and we tried to figure out my computer. No luck. We headed out to dinner around 8 and went to Panellas, which was highly recommeded and we were very pleased. In Italy, when yougo out to dinner the table is yours for the evening. They expect you to stay a long time, eat in many courses, and they do not offer the check, you must ask for it. They think it is rude to offer the check. Also there is not much tipping involved. Many places now charge service, called “bread and cover”, and in those places you do not tip at all; it is included. Otherwise you round the bill up and that is all.

We ordered the house red (12€ for 1.5 liters which of course we could not drink all of…that is 2 bottles!)The antipasto was house made prosciutto, soprasetta, and little toasts with pate. We shared porcini mushroom risotto and “vitel e tonnee” which is a classic dish here. It is thinly sliced veal (it is free range here, most all the food in Italy is “slow” food and properly cared for)that is super tender, covered in a sauce blended from tuna, topped with caper berries and a bit of tomato. Now believe me when I tell you I know that sounds weird and gross, but it is SO not! It was light, lemony, creamy and delicious! We sopped up the tuna sauce with our bread and were very happy. The bread in Tuscany is traditionally not, or only very lightly salted. It stems from a tax issue with the pope a few hundred years ago and it is a surprise th first time you try it. Their bread was lightly salted, though it makes you want more when you are not used to it. The waiter placed a jug of olive oil on the table at my request and it was delicious! Usually only locals know about asking for that so we felt like we totally blended. (Well… maybe not totally…)

Next we ordered fruit (we kept the meal light cuz we were going to bed soon) and we got a peach, an apple, and a knife. Mark ordered “tartufo” which is an ice cream thing that, because of chocolate, looks like a truffle, and I got “cantuccini e Vin Santo”. Cantuccini are little hard cookies, much like biscotti only bite sized, that you dip into the Vin Santo, which is an appertif, sort of like brandy only better. We came back to the apartment and tried to sleep. So noisy!

So here it is nearly 10 am and we are just heading out, which is so late!! I am anxious to get going and the first order of business is to get my computer on line. Wish me luck!

Ciao for now…