We have been extremely fortunate on our travels when it comes to the weather – up until last weekend, that is. Other than some cold and rain when we were in Normandy (which is to be expected) we have pretty much enjoyed sunny, blue skies and warm temperatures. In fact, I was beginning to wonder if I was ever going to get to wear any of the cold-weather things I had brought along.
All of that changed last weekend, when thunderstorms, loads of rain, and cold temperatures rolled into Florence, definitely not weather that invites one to get out and wander around. We spent all day Sunday huddled in the apartment, in our pajamas, reading, writing and trying to stay warm (heat can’t be turned on until after November 1). On the plus side, we didn’t spend anything!
The weather was almost worse on Monday, but we dashed out for a few groceries and gelato in between storms. One of the storms that passed through was so intense that we had water coming in the kitchen window/door, flooding the floor. We grabbed up every towel we could find to mop up the water that had come in and prevent the flooding from getting any worse. It was crazy!
We had also been watching weather reports for the Cinque Terre as we were scheduled to visit there today and tomorrow, but things did not look any better. Yesterday morning our host strongly advised us not to go at this time, that conditions in the Cinque Terre were considered very dangerous as there had been flooding and more storms were expected.
Looking for any excuse to get out of the apartment at that point, we decided to take our chances with the weather and walk to the train station to see if we could get the date changed on our already-purchased tickets. The weather yesterday morning had been bouncing between blue skies and rain (mostly rain), but we bundled up and grabbed our umbrellas, a good thing as it began raining hard within a couple of minutes of leaving the apartment.
We thankfully had no problem changing our tickets at the station. In fact, we were pulled out of a long line by a helpful TrenItalia employee and our tickets adjusted on the spot. We will be going up to the Cinque Terre week after next when things are supposed to have calmed down, weather-wise (we were also able to change our hotel reservation). After the tickets were taken care of we thought that since we were out we should walk around for a bit and see if we could find the 13th century house of the great Italian poet, Dante Alighieri. We’d heard it was not an easy place to find and thought a bit of a challenge might be fun.
We decided to go by way of the back of the Duomo so I could buy a new pair of slippers, one of the purchases we had decided to make in Florence. We first stopped though for some gelato (to get out of the rain) before heading to the shoe store. My new slippers are wool clogs made in Italy by SuperGa (“People’s Shoes of Italy”) in a lovely spring green, my favorite color. I had seen them in the window when we were in the area the other day and both Brett and I thought the price was right and that they would make a nice souvenir.
After buying the slippers we walked around and after a few turns eventually found Dante’s house, helped in part by the sight of a large tour group (all in rain ponchos) that had gotten there right ahead of us. After admiring the old house for a few minutes we walked a short distance intending to visit the Bargello Museum, but it was getting ready to close so we instead decided to return home. The streets were wet with puddles everywhere (some worse than others), and while the sky occasionally broke through the clouds the rain still was coming and going. We had a lovely walk though filled with beautiful views, and we also stopped at a bakery near our place and bought some apple coffee cake for today’s breakfast.
Today’s weather looked like it was going to be better, and maybe not rain at all! Our host’s mother and father came over in the morning to bring us clean sheets, and they offered to clean the apartment for us (we declined – we clean every day). We were also able to finally get a load of our dirty clothes washed and hung out – the sun was shining! Then we set out to visit both the Basilica di Santa Croce and the Bargello Museum. Santa Croce literally took my breath away when we entered – it was an amazing space filled with amazing art. The tombs of Dante, Michelangelo and Galileo are located inside as well as other tombs for or memorials to famous people, and the cloister area outside was also beautiful. We spent nearly an hour there looking at everything.
Before going on to the Bargello we stopped for lunch at a nearby osteria. I ordered a mozzerella, ricotta, and spinach calzone, and was served one that would have fed our entire family. I laughed when I saw it, like “are you kidding me?” but I was actually able to eat most of it (a glass of wine helped). Brett had focaccia with prosciutto, again absolutely huge but he also finished most of it.
We spent nearly two hours in the Bargello Museum because there was so much to see, from statuary to paintings to pottery to all sorts of Renaissance artifacts of daily life. I was especially interested in the busts – compared to “generic” statuary, the faces on the busts actually looked like people you would see walking down the street today, that all they needed was a spark to reanimate.
When we finally stepped outside it was – sigh – raining again! We figured there was no point in hurrying home because the clothes we had left outside were probably soaked, and neither of us wanted dinner either, so we made stops at the produce market, the grocery store and our neighborhood gelateria before finally going to the apartment. Thankfully the clothes were only slightly wet – apparently it hadn’t rained all that much in our neighborhood.
P.S. Today is Halloween, and we’ve seen a few kids in costumes, and some came into the shops we were in for a “treat” from the shop owner, maybe a cookie or small piece of chocolate. Our neighborhood gelateria had all sorts of Halloween flavors and colors going on! Tomorrow, All Saints Day, is a national holiday so we’ve decided to stay home for the day once again.