Thursday, 31 March 2016

Rapporto di Caffè - Day 10

Horror of horrors, I almost thought there would be no coffee report this morning, as we had to meet up at 7.25 for a bus tour and I had a feeling nothing would be open at 6.40 when I ducked out to grab my coffee hit.

If this had been the case, I did have a backup option, yesterday at the supermarket i noticed they had tinned espresso coffee. I first discovered these nuggets of tinned black gold when I was in Asia (they are hugely popular there. In Japan vending machine dispense them either hot or cold). I was somewhat surprised to find them here in Europe, and unlike the ones you find in Australia that are imported from Asia, these ones are made here in Europe. 

I headed out the door and as I feared, my local was closed, but my second choice was open, so I tried them this morning. Slightly bigger takeaway cups. It would seem even the birds in Florence need their daily coffee, as I was waiting a small bird flew into the cafe and parked itself on a table.

Headed home, quickly worshipped at my coffee nook again and headed inside to consume the delicious beverage and get ready for the day.

Conclusion ? Great coffee as expected, but I preferred the ones from my local around the corner. Slightly more expensive at €6.50 for the three items.

The cafe for today.

Bird queuing up to place an order

Bird feeling right at home 

The order, waiting to pay for it

The nook.....

The backup option. Better than you might think.

Getting picked up for our tour

A Day of Wander in Florence - Day 9

We had planned for today to be a reasonably quiet day of wandering the streets of Florence, looking for interesting things with nothing special planned, except visiting the statue of David. I started the morning with my usual coffee expedition, then returned to the apartment for breakfast with the rest of the family.

We headed out toward the Duomo and on the way we noticed an Apple store, so I had to pop in there for a look. I'll likely have to return here to buy an external drive to store all my pictures on, as I managed to leave my spare one at home (doh!). We then moved on to The Duomo, bell tower and Baptistery. These buildings are very impressive with the amount of white and green marble adorning the outside of the building. The inside of the Duomo is equally impressive. We noticed a magnum store in the plaza and had a look but unfortunately it was closed. Interesting concept, a design your own magnum ice-cream. Could be slightly dangerous.....

Walking along we noticed the Leonardo Da Vinci museum. They were offering an entry ticket plus lunch for 10 euro each, which was too good an offer to refuse. The museum was excellent, lots of interactive exhibits to explain all of his inventions and improvements he made during his life time. Emma got quite a science lesson, and it was lots of fun.

On the way out we noticed a toy shop so of course we had to have a look in there, and I ended up buying my father a Ferrari.... We then kept walking and found a supermarket where we picked up a few supplies and Sue found some soup she liked. Further along the road we noticed the Amsterdam Chip shop, where the only thing they sell is hot Dutch style chips with lots of sauce options, including of course the Dutch default option of mayonnaise, which if you have never tried hot chips with mayo, you haven't lived. Its an awesome combination.  Unfortunately this time we ordered them with BBQ sauce as thats Emma's favourite, which was still delicious none the less. A few metres further down the road we also noticed a french fry pizza. Didn't sample that one.

We found the museum that houses the Statue of David and the queue to buy tickets and gain entry was massive, but a few meters down the road is a ticket office where you can pre-purchase tickets for an extra 4 euro booking fee, then march straight past the queue into the museum (Galleria dell'Accademia). The statue is mightily impressive, however I thought some of Michelangelo's incomplete sculptures where just as impressive as you could see how he constructed them with the chisel marks in the marble.

Headed towards the central market, unfortunately we got there just on 3pm when they start to close up, but it looks like they have some fantastic produce shops in there. There were one or two still open, so out of interest we bought a couple of oranges, apples and lemons just to try. The oranges and lemons were massive, I've photographed them next to a standard sized banana to give a sense of the true scale of these massive fruits. From here we checked out a few more leather shops and then headed back to the apartment for a bit of a rest and enjoyed some wine, pesto and crackers (and more soaking up of the Tuscan atmosphere of this awesome apartment).

Headed out to look over the leather market, which is actually only a few metres from the apartment, and the girls bought a few bags and things before we walked over the Ponte Vecchio towards the Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco restaurant which was recommended to us (hello Lara and Matt!), and what an awesome recommendation it was, the food was outstanding, I had a peppery beef stew, Sharon had a pasta with deer ragu sauce, Paul had a wild boar ragu and Emma had a massive veal chop. Emma's meal was massive and even more impressive she completely finished it. On the way home we stopped on the Ponte Vecchio for some pictures at dusk. 

We have a pretty big day with an early start tomorrow to see Pisa, San Gim and Sienna tomorrow, and I'm slightly worried I might miss my early morning coffee!, we will see...

Statue of David

I can't resist the lure of an Apple store...

Impressive marble on the churches

Inside the Duomo.

Mmmm, Magnum store.

Pity its only a model...

At the da Vinci museum

Practical science lesson for Emma. Heaps of fun here.

More pizza for lunch.

Oh my goodness, the chips !!!

Anyone for chip pizza ?

Blessed are the cheese makers !

The fruit is stunning. Not much tropical fruit though....

Did I mention how tiny the lift in the apartment building is ?

Check out the size of the fruit.

Wine and Pesto time.

Emma rubbing the nose of the wild boar at the market.

Girls shopping collection

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Rapporto di Caffè - Day 9

A nice quiet day today, so no need to wake up particularly early. We had the window open slightly last night to let the cool breeze in, so I was actually woken by church bells in the distance at 7am. A very pleasant way to start the day as opposed to an alarm blaring or traffic noise.

Got up and headed out for my daily coffee and went straight to my new local. As the saying goes, when in Rome...., however I'm not in Rome anymore, but I will try and do as the local Tuscan's do and have a coffee and pastry at the bar. 

The irony of the tourist looking for a bar that isn't populated by tourists hasn't escaped me and I have a bit of a chuckle that I think I may have achieved the impossible as everyone else who comes in over the next 15 minutes whilst I'm there is speaking fluent Italian with the baristas and even though apart from what they are ordering, I don't understand a word of what they are saying, its obvious that they frequent the establishment on a regular basis. It's possible that I'm just up earlier than most tourists being there at 8am. We are just a few metres from one of the leather markets, so in the distance you can hear all the vendors opening up for the day. The sounds of a new city can be just as exciting as the new sights.

I have my coffee and pastry at the bar, and although its identical to the coffee in the little paper cup, having it served in a proper coffee cup inside a coffee bar somehow makes a massive difference and its just fantastic. Once I've finished, I order some takeaway as well to have back in the apartment. I'm still astounded at the price, 3 coffees, 1 hot chocolate and a croissant was euro 7.50.   Try and find all that in Sydney for $12 !

Here is my coffee and croissant at the bar just waiting for me to devour them.

The machine where the Barista wields her caffeine magic 

Obligatory coffee bar selfie !

On my way back I again marvel the perfectness of my 17th century coffee nook.

This is the view I wake up to of a morning at the moment, very very low sloping ceiling.

This will give you an idea of how low it is, and yes I have already donked my head on it. Ouch.

Looking down our narrow street from the dining room window.

Uffizi and Ponte Vecchio - Day 8

For today we had pre-booked tickets to the Uffizi Gallery, which is only a short stroll from our apartment. Our booking wasn't till 10am so we had plenty of time for a lazy breakfast here before we headed out. I was out earlier on my normal coffee run.

We were at the Uffizi for about four hours. I'm not an art connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination, however I could certainly appreciate the quality of the works on display, and the quantity of fantastic items is just overwhelmingly vast. They even had a small exhibition on Andy Warhol portraits. 

Some of the things we saw included :-
I think Paul quite enjoyed giving Emma a lesson in art appreciation, and Emma enjoyed it too. There is also an window from the Uffizi that gives one of the best views over the Ponte Vecchio. We stopped for a short morning tea break at the Uffizi (where Emma had another mini pizza) before heading back to the apartment to collect Sue and grab some lunch. 

We decided just to grab a couple of Panini and eat them back in the apartment and just absorb the Tuscan ambience of the apartment. Luckily my temporary Mastercard had been delivered to the apartment management office, just as they said it would, so we swung by there and picked that up. We also tried the "popper pack" wine at lunch, which for 69 euro cents wasn't too bad !

After lunch we headed out for a stroll to check out the leather market and the Ponte Vecchio. The Gelato and Ice Cream everywhere looks fantastic the way its piled up in the counter. Just like yesterday there were swarms of people everywhere and very few cars. This part of the city is very very pedestrian and cycle friendly. We also looked at a couple of tour brochures, and decided to take my own advice and book a tour for Thursday that covers Pisa, Siena and San Gimignano with out having to muck about with public transport and transfer delays. Paul and Sharon also booked in to do a four hour Tuscan cooking class on Friday, and I'm doing an electric bike tour around Florence.

Cruised around the leather markets for a while, Emma is looking for a wallet for herself and she found a backpack/handbag she liked and Nanna & Pa bought that for her. For dinner we went back to the same restaurant as last night as the food was just so good. 

One thing I forgot to blog last night, is that Emma promised us she would try more foods since we were in the centre of the food universe and last night she delivered on that promise. Without any prompting she took part of a truffle of Sharon's plate and ate it. I was astounded as its one of the last things i'd expect her to want to taste, but she quite enjoyed it. 

Tomorrow we have nothing particular booked, a day of wandering, shopping, photographing and exploring. I was reminded about how annoying being robbed was when we were looking a potential tours, they had a Fiat 500 driving tour around Florence, however that one was now out of my reach since I don't have a drivers license anymore. Seems I'm only partly back in adult land, I now have credit but no wheels..... and I have to wait till I'm back in Australia to sort that one out. Thank goodness we didn't actually have any car hire booked for this holiday.

I can now access credit once again !

Some of the jewellery on the Ponte Vecchio 

Photos from dinner tonight. Emma had the most massive lamb dish, I had a delicious asparagus risotto, sue had a chicken and potato dish. Paul had the same truffle and mushroom pasta that Sharon had last night. Sharon had a delicious ossobuco.