Friday, September 18, 2009
day 6 or 'has it really been 15 years?'
today we said goodbye to rosignano marritimo . we had such a great time here and know that we will be back, maybe with the kids next time. we were excited to head out of town to our next destination firenze.
again we had our map in hand. but honestly i did not know where we were going. and right off the bat we missed the toll road entrance. we drove and drove but never picked up a ticket. finally we stopped to get gas and found out that we were on the regular road. but at least we were headed in the right direction. we were told not to drive in florence because the roads are so small and everyone gets around on foot. once we entered the city we understood what they were talking about. lots of one way streets, construction and lots of people. i think we passed the hotel about three times before we finally got there. i was frustrated but so thankful that bobby was able to figure it out and get us there. i told him that if i were driving i would have stopped in the middle of one of those roundy-rounds and just started crying. seriously.
i had found a bed and breakfast on the internet with good reviews. the best part was the location. just a block away from the duomo. and we got the room with the terrace. here's a view from it looking toward the duomo which was around the corner to the right.
we unpacked, got instructions from the manager, alessandro, who was soooo nice and spoke incredible english. he gave us directions to the american express office and off we went. ok so here comes the story:
before leaving LA we purchased traveller's checks just to be safe. we had some cash, dollars, and when we landed in rome we exchanged 1 $100 check for euros. we thought the rates would be bad at the airport and just figured that we would exchange the rest once we got to rosignano. the problem was that the town was so small that the bank didn't take the checks. and when we were in a place that had a bigger bank we were always there when they were closed, which was a big portion of the day. mental note: if we ever move to italy, work for the bank. we exchanged some of the cash we had and basically paid for food, souvenirs, etc. with our credit card. by the time we got to florence we were cash poor, really. but we were in luck because there was an american express office here. so after walking by the duomo and bapistery we went looking for the office. well, guess what? it didn't exist. we asked, we looked, we walked, we googled. we have no idea what happened but there was no american express office anywhere. we passed a few change houses but their rates were worse than the banks and they charged a commission, and by that time the banks were, you guessed it, closed. so we figured that we would just get by with what we had for one more day.
now, we were blown away by a few things in florence. i was in awe of all of the stores i saw; gucci, chanel, cartier, tiffany's, fendi. not that i shop at these places but i dream about it. we were shocked by the prices. the exchange rate was almost $1.50 to 1 euro. so whatever price we saw on the ticket we still had to add 50% to get the dollar amount. yikes! i guess i won't be doing much shopping here anyway. we were surprised and comforted by how much english we heard. not just by the locals but there were a lot of american tourists and other europeans that spoke english. and we were amazed that around every corner was a church, or a museum or a sculpture that we have seen in books or movies or on tv. it was almost overwhelming.
it was also a huge change of pace from where we came. this was a lively city. people were dressed with sophistication, well except for us tourists. there was a hustle and bustle that we didn't feel when we were in rosignano. we almost felt like we should have started our vacation here to ease into the lifestlye and then head to rosignano to relax and unwind. but in a way this helped ease us back to a more normal way of life for us.
we saw ponte vecchio, the bridge lined with shops. florence is known for its leather and gold. i had every intention of getting both, but ended up just window shopping.
hmm could he be picking out an anniversary gift? nope. we thought about splurging on something for each of us but it would have been a big splurge. i walked into one of the shops and overheard an american say 'these prices are ridiculous. you could shop at tiffany's back home for the same price.' now there's an idea . . .
we went back to the hotel to freshen up and get ready to go to dinner. a friend of mine recommended a restaurant but we were not able to get a reservation. so alessandro told us about coquinarius, a place just a few blocks away. we had reservations at 8pm for our anniversary dinner. it was packed when we got there which was a good sign and we got a table next to the staircase that led to the wine cellar.
elena, our server, took our order and made a few recommendations. we decided on the mixed crostini, volcano salad, gnocchis and pear and pecorino for after dinner. we also ordered a red wine that was AMAZING. we had so much fun talking and laughing about our vacation. and we made plans to see as much of florence as possible tomorrow. it really was perfect! after dinner they brought us a shot of lemoncello. now i am not a fan. i think it tastes like sweet furniture polish, but it was a good ending to our dinner.
we had also read in our book that there was a great gelato place just around the corner. when we got there the line was out the door. but we were willing to wait, until we found out that they only took cash and we were down to our last 2 euro. so no gelato for us tonight. we walked back to the uffizi museum to listen to the street musician play the guitar. there was quite a crowd. and he played one of my favorite songs, the theme from zefferelli's romeo and juliet. it was a happy moment. we also walked over to the ponte vecchio where there was another large crowd listening to another guitarist. it felt so surreal to be out and enjoying this music on the street.
so it was time for bed. tomorrow another full day of florence and maybe a few more euros to get some gelato.
to end this entry i have to take a moment to declare my love to the best guy in the world. he truly made this trip a vacation of a lifetime. and he has given me the most amazing 15 years. he is an outstanding father. he cares so much about our family. he always makes me feel loved, even when i am having a bad day. and the best part of all is that he makes me laugh, everyday. he is dedicated, has such a kind spirit and is the most talented person i know. i am so honored to be his wife. thanks for making my dreams come true. i love you!