Category Archives: International Travel

Christmas in Italy – Florentine meals

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Christmas in Italy – Florentine meals

In keeping with the tradition of adventure, Sarah and I went on a big trip for Christmas and New Years!

This year, we met up with Sarah’s family in Italy, traveling to Rome and Florence; not quite a perfect midpoint for everyone, but it was close enough. And, also, you know. Rome. Florence. Amazing!

Please forgive me for some of these being a bit out of order… the posts are organized somewhat chronologically… but also organized by theme and location.  Some may not be exactly in chronological order, so for reference please see the initial summary post, which has a complete day-by-day, blow-by-blow account of the adventure.

 

Italy is known for food.

Delicious, simple, gloriously amazing food.

Just… so much food.  Way more food than I can list in a single post, though I think I’m going to push the envelope of how much I can write before I have to stop and go make some dinner for myself…

These Locale’s are focused on Florence; we had a ton of amazing food in Rome as well, but most of those meals were already written into the various other posts that I’ve put together.  So sit back, enjoy, and make sure you read this before dinner, so that you’re not tempted to have a second dinner afterward.

 

29-Dec, Dinner

Trattoria Cibreo, a place that Sarah’s aunt recommended. They don’t take reservations, but do open in a bit… so we open a second bottle of wine, and relax a bit more before heading over

    • Legit walk… not too long, but not short either. Actually right near where Sarah and I were earlier in the day
    • We’re the first ones in, but it’s full within 20min of opening
    • Our waiter has the absolutely best Italian accent when speaking English… and looks like he’s from Portland (more on top haircut, long beard, etc…)
    • We get the full experience: wine, first dish, second dish, dessert. It’s glorious and delicious and amazing
    • First Dish = Riboletta, a thick bread-based soup. Tastes better when scooped up onto the bread, ironically
    • Second dish = stuffed rabbit. Ohh man. Rabbit, stuffed with sausage, with cheese and pastry around it. What. So good
    • Dessert = a whole mix, that the whole table shares. Whipped cream dish, cheesecake, chocolate cake, and a few others that were equally amazing. One was chocolate mousse style, and was “a present from the house”

 

 

30-Dec, Lunch.

Outside the Duomo, there’s a sandwich shop with a line stretching around the block. We’d noticed it the first day, and made a point of showing up when they opened in order to dodge the line…

    • This isn’t a sandwich shop – this is an experience to be had
    • The shop owner starts by introducing himself, and then explaining the system for this shop: He’ll do a tasting with us of the various cheeses and meats, then we’ll move through the assembly line and construct the actual Panini. Side note: everything here is from Tuscany
    • Meats are pretty stock; what you’d expect from the area
    • Cheeses though… they’re glorious. Five options, varying from fresh to aged, all of which are amazing. Personally I love aged cheeses, so I went with the 45-day aged cheese from Northern Tuscany
    • Bread – they don’t focus as much on the bread, but there are a lot of options anyways… and all of them look amazing. I stick with the simplest of the options, though almost everyone else goes with the olive bread
    • Sandwich gets toasted, we head outside and eat up!

 

 

30-Dec, Dinner

Tonight was Sarah and my’s turn to cook, so after an adventure throughout two grocery stores (named Eatily and Conads… weird place, Italy), we came home and set to cooking…

    • Salad = Arugula, Spinach, Parmasean and mozzarella balls, with balsamic glaze
    • Starter = Gnocci with spinach inside, with a pesto sauce
    • Main = Turkey, wrapped in proccutto and glazed in maple syrup. Carrots, onions and sweet potatoes on the side
    • Wine = Chianti

 

Tuesday, 02-Jan, Dinner. Florentine Steak

    • The bar is called King Grizzly, and it’s unique. It’s an Irish Pub, in Florence, playing reggae music. I get offered a reggae friendship bracelet, for 5 Euro, but decline. Later in the evening, I find one that he accidentally left on the bar. So… free bracelet!
    • Finish up our drinks, then head across for dinner at I’Toscani 3
      • This place is highly rated for Florentine Steak – a special dish from Florence, both for what it is, and how it’s cooked. Florentine Steak is…
      • Have some cured meats as appetizers
      • The main meal – served on one huge wooden tray, carried by two waiters.
      • The steak is very rare and very amazing – gloriously seasoned!
      • Potatoes are the steak’s equal – supremely seasoned, seared on one side, amazing.
      • Peppers and zucchini were good… but nothing exceptional
      • Eggplant… kind of gross
      • Wine was good too
      • After the meal, once we’re done gnawing on the bones, we relax… until we hear the clinking of glasses
      • A waiter brings over bottles of Grappa – five of them total. We each pick our poison, and he pours them out… and one for himself, stating “car’s don’t run without gas!”
      • We drink, and he leaves the bottles for us to experience
    • Stumble back home, via the grocery store to get some more milk
    • Hang out and play a few rounds of Grappa Gubs before bed

 

Christmas in Italy – Visiting the Tomb of the Medici

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Christmas in Italy – Visiting the Tomb of the Medici

In keeping with the tradition of adventure, Sarah and I went on a big trip for Christmas and New Years!

This year, we met up with Sarah’s family in Italy, traveling to Rome and Florence; not quite a perfect midpoint for everyone, but it was close enough. And, also, you know. Rome. Florence. Amazing!

Please forgive me for some of these being a bit out of order… the posts are organized somewhat chronologically… but also organized by theme and location.  Some may not be exactly in chronological order, so for reference please see the initial summary post, which has a complete day-by-day, blow-by-blow account of the adventure.

 

Wednesday, 03-Jan… I think.

So, somehow, I didn’t write down anything about visiting the Tomb of the Medici. I believe that we saw it on our last day, as part of the mad dash to check out the last few items on our tick list, but I somehow neglected to write down any notes on the trip. My apologies, but I’ll write as much as I can from memory alone… along with the pictures that I was able to snap while we explored.

The first memory I have of the tomb complex is that it honestly didn’t really seem like a tomb. I’m used to the sepulcher crypts of France and Spain, or the tombs below the Duomo and the Vatican. This was… not warm, but bright? It had the same architectural hallmarks, but somehow seemed to be more alive than most others. I think mostly due to the lighting – most of the tomb wasn’t actually underground, and most of the main tomb rooms had some form of windows letting natural light in.

I wouldn’t realize this until after the entryway, however, since the first stop is the reliquary area. Here we saw all of the ornate, guilded display cases that had been commissioned by the family to showcase their bone collection. All “certified”, of course… though I’m honestly not quite sure what that meant at the time, to be real bones of real saints. I think I saw a part of St. Peter in there somewhere, even. This part definitely did have the “tomb” feeling, don’t get me wrong.

The rest of the tomb was beautifully decorated, though, easily making up for the macabre nature of the beginning. The sarcophagi themselves were placed on pedestals, with soaring arches and high ceilings above them. We’re talking 20+ feet high, easily, with gorgeous stone inlays throughout.

The main attraction was the Michelangelo pieces, which were definitely worth seeing. Each sarcophagus overseen by Michelangelo displayed two contrasted figures; dawn and dusk, day and night, etc…, overseen by a figure exemplifying the person entombed within.

Christmas in Italy – The Galileo museum

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Christmas in Italy – The Galileo museum

In keeping with the tradition of adventure, Sarah and I went on a big trip for Christmas and New Years!

This year, we met up with Sarah’s family in Italy, traveling to Rome and Florence; not quite a perfect midpoint for everyone, but it was close enough. And, also, you know. Rome. Florence. Amazing!

Please forgive me for some of these being a bit out of order… the posts are organized somewhat chronologically… but also organized by theme and location.  Some may not be exactly in chronological order, so for reference please see the initial summary post, which has a complete day-by-day, blow-by-blow account of the adventure.

 

 

Wednesday, 03-Jan-2018

While we were preparing for this trip, I poked around a bit online for places in Florence to look at. I knew that it was the home of the renaissance, and that countless groundbreaking discoveries were made here. In trying to narrow down the scope of what to look at, I came up with two – Leonardo DaVinci, and Galileo Galilei.

 

The Leonardo DaVinci museum, we accidentally stumbled into on our adventures earlier in the week. But the Galileo museum was a targeted adventure… partially because the week was ending, and partially because it was literally directly across the street from our apartment. Convenient, right?

I’ll be honest though – by the time we made it to the museum, I was pretty well saturated. This was our last day in Florence, and we’d been bouncing all over the place getting in a few last adventures before the end of the day. We’d seen so many beautiful places and views that I was struggling to keep focus and stay sane & aware.

With that in mind, this museum was still amazing.

Obviously, there were telescopes, but there was also so much more. The term “renaissance man” truly applies to Galileo; there were experimental items of his concerning electricity, magnetism, medicine, and of course astronomy. There was a massive amount of information about everything, and an honestly staggering number of masterly crafted showcase devices.

It was a really neat concept, honestly – these ornate machines designed purely to demonstrate a single scientific principle, such as induced magnetism or acceleration, or rotational acceleration. I’ll be honest… I think that if science classes used these machines in their demos, we’d have a radically different society. But these weren’t used in classrooms, we learned that they were used to demonstrate research to the nobles and elites of the city, who were funding the scientists doing the work. An interesting deliverable, to be sure.

The nobles would then throw “Science Salons” for all their friends, demonstrating whichever new principle had been discovered recently. It’s kind of neat to imagine, a whole group of victorian movers and shakers, all being astounded by the sort of electric displays that I grew up with in the Museum of Science, back in Boston.

Not all of the displays were purely conceptual though. Some were downright creepy, though undeniably necessary to modern medicine. We saw an entire room full of anatomical sculptures describing pregnancy, its possible complications, and how the doctors and midwives would treat those complications. Very interesting… but the way that they were sculpted definitely went over the line between anatomical and creepy.

And of course, there were telescopes. Galileo didn’t just have his one telescope, of course, but there was one room with dozens of telescopes used by countless astronomers. They were gorgeous, just as ornate as the demonstration machines, but obviously well worn from use. Some were the small hand-held ones that you think of when you picture Galileo, but there were also huge free-standing telescopes more reminiscent of modern observatories.