After spending the night in Castagneto Carducci, we hopped the first morning train for Florence. During the hour ride, we sat next to some lovely Canadians, whom we chatted with about what would happen if you didn’t have a ticket and got caught – did they kick you off? Well, as luck would have it – and my sister-in-law’s not so great computing skills – we got a chance first hand to find out! The conductor soon stopped by our car, asked for our tickets, informed us they were for the next day instead of the current one, and most graciously took 50 euro to let us stay in our seats. Note to self – when ordering train tickets, make sure you double check what your SIL is buying.
Alas, we did made it to Florence. Florence! What started as a random, last minute decision turned into a glorious walking and eating tour of the historic city. The narrow packed streets were filled the aroma of hot bread and leather – Florence is known for their leather goods, and there were stall after stall of vendors haggling with customers over (real? not sure) leather backpacks, luggage, wallets, belts, shoes and anything else you could imagine covered in parts of a dearly departed cow.
Il Duomo. You gotta see it. Everybody says it, so we made a beeline for the gothic church, it’s block-long façade ornately painted and shining in the afternoon sun. We waited patiently in line, reading about the history on my phone, excited to see what the inside was like. Once at the front, however, we were informed that there was no way two hoochi mamas like us were stepping foot in god’s foyer. Maybe they didn’t say exactly that, but the sentiment was clear: we would have to go cover our arms and legs or we were out of luck. So we didn’t go in. I KNOW. I can’t believe it either. I feel so FOMO-ridden just typing it. So learn from me, dear readers, and buy whatever scarf/outfit you need to in order to be let in and go see Il Duomo. Pay the money. Do it. Then tell me how it is.
That night we went to a dinner that turned out to be in the top five of my life. MY LIFE. Situated in the back of a gorgeous, tall ceilinged, stone laden winery with bottles stacked high like bookshelves in a library, the tables were laid out with a simple wine glass and a plate. Very minimal – not a hint of the incredible feast that was to come.
It was a five course meal of Florence specialties, paired with five different wines from the Florentine region. Our emcee, a beautifully vibrant Italian man took us through the wine region course by course. He explained the history, the grapes, the flavors, the facets of the wine, the lore. Now listen – you’re going to feel good after the first course. You’re going to feel full after the second. By the third you’ve secretly unzipped your pants under the table so your belly can further expand. By the fourth you’re trading obscene jokes with the Australians at the next table and by the fifth you’re drinking your SIL’s wine so she doesn’t topple.
I discovered several things that night. One is that Chianti Classico is proof that god loves us and wants us to be happy. Second is that hilarious older Australian women who travel for 3 months at a time are my spirit animal. Third is that there is no better way to end a tour of Italy than with an hours-long, carb and wine filled night.