Wash Uffizi, Drive Me to Firenze

After escaping the major metropolitan areas for a few days in the Cinque Terre, it was back to the commotion and crowds of the cities with my next stop being Florence.  Firenze (as they call it in Italian) is most notable for its impressive art galleries, sculpture gardens, architectural facades, and the lasting legacy left by the influential Medici family hundreds of years ago.  Tourism has now taken over to some degree, but the charms and appeals of the city that was the birthplace of the Renaissance still exist for those willing to take a look.

The famous Ponte Vecchio, the only bridge in Florence that wasn’t destroyed during WWII. The shop houses were orginally occupied by butchers, but today, jewelery shops claim the attention

The front facade of the Duomo, one of the most striking hallmarks of the skyline

To the southwest of the city, across the Arno River, lies the Piazzale Michelangelo, a park set atop a hillside, so named as it houses one of the cities’ 3 sculptures of David (the more famous marble statue is housed in the Galleria dell’Academia)

And the view from the park back over the city is pretty nice, too

Firenze is home to several excellent museums, the most notable being the Uffizi Gallery (seen here). It’s biggest draw is Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus,” but it also houses numerous works of Lippi, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael. Be prepared to wait in line, however

And besides being the home to many of the world’s greatest Renaissance artists, Florence is also the captial of the Tuscany region of Italy — famous for its vineyards, olive oils, cheeses, and beautiful landscapes.  And if you visit, it is certainly worth taking a tour or renting a car to explore if for nothing other than to get out of the city for a day.  Personally, I opted for a wine tour of the Chianti area (a smaller region within Tuscany), as I figured there is no better way to see the countryside than with a nice wine buzz.

Tuscan Landscape

Wine and Olive Oil are the two most famous products from the area

Rows of grapevines at a local vineyard. In this case, the grapes are Sangiovese grapes, the primary grape variety used to make Chianti

Vintage wines being aged in French Oak barrels

And if you’re looking to pick up a bottle of one of the highest quality wines from this region, Chianti Classico, be sure that the bottle has the seal with the Black Rooster depicted on the bottle, as this a sign of authenticity

You can’t have wine without bread and cheese. We’re in Tuscany, afterall.

And besides simply hitting every winery we passed, our tour did include a stop of the medieval town of Monteriggiono — a bustling metropolis of 42 people, dubbed the “Crown of Italy” due to the shape of its walls along the top of the hillside.  Though it is quite small, it has been referenced in Dante Aligiri’s The Divine Comedy, appeared in several installments of the Assasin’s Creed video game series, and has been a filming site for such movies as Gladiator, Under the Tuscan Sun, and (OMG!!!) Twilight: New Moon.

In addition to the Wine Tour across the countryside, I also decided to treat myself and indulge in a few of the other local specialties:

Spaghetti with a Spicy Pomodoro Sauce

The local beer (not my favorite) and a Piadine, or Piada as the Columbus restaurant chain has dubbed it (though I doubt the C-bus folks could get away serving it filled with raw sausage meat, as it was here)

A typical Florentine Restaurant

My favorite dish while in Florence: Tripa Florentine-style (cow’s stomach stewed in a spicy tomato sauce) and grilled vegetables

The most famous dish associated with the city is Steak Florentine, which is essentially a T-bone steak that is only flash cooked on each side and served extremely rare. Whereas those who’ve eaten with me before know that that is right up my alley, you had to order by weight with 1 Kilo being the MINIMUM order size. Yes, that’s right, the smallest size steak you can get is over 2.2 pounds. I opted for the alternative option, of beef slices with parmesan, which I was told would be a rough approximation with less artery-clogging gluttony (and notice, again, the side of spinach.  See, I am trying to squeeze in a veggie every now and then)

After my gluttonous escapades in the Tuscan capital of Florence, I’m headed off to another of the great cities of the world: Rome.  And finding my way there should be pretty easy, as apparently any road I take will get me there.  Hopefully the riots will settle down before I arrive, otherwise my next post may be from a basement shelter somewhere.

As a final note, even though the title of this post refers both to the Uffizi Gallery and the city itself (Firenze), it is actually lyrics to one of my favorite songs.  Bonus points to anyone who can name that tune!

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About andrewamiet

I'm a 29 (now 31) year-old former desk jockey who is now making my way around the world, experiencing all of the sights, sounds, tastes, people, and culture that the world has to offer.

10 Responses to “Wash Uffizi, Drive Me to Firenze”

  1. You Enjoy Myself! Right place, right time…any of the guys would have gotten that one. Good posts Rew. Run away if you get caught in a protest. I’ve been watching news and other countries aren’t as “civil” when breaking up gatherings.

    • Bingo! And wow, that was less than 5 minutes after I finished the post. You’re on the ball, my friend.

      And I didn’t technically mention it above, but I’ve actually already arrived in Rome. Luckily, the riots seem to have been a one-time incident that occured the day before I arrived, but I do still have some good pics of burned-out cars and broken store-front windows.

  2. Awe, Tuscany. Some, day, some day. I just read your blog to my bro and sister (she loved the OMG!). 🙂 Thanks again for letting me read your adventures. It is solidifying my determination to plan Europe as a graduation present to myself in June.

  3. David is too quick!!

    In that cows stomach photo, it looks like you are drinking red wine AND a neat scotch with your meal. Well done my friend!

    Finally, I would embrace any riots you find yourself in the middle of! The Romans have been waiting for thousands of years for someone to lead them to world domination, and maybe that is why you have arrived here at a time when the masses are already riled up and looking for a fight?…

  4. Boy, man….all I hear is a funky bass. I can only imagine how great the wine is there.

  5. Love your blog – you just brought me back to our trip last month. My stomach is growling!!!

  6. I love that Piadine. Piadine is normally found in Northern Italy. I had mine in Caserta. 😀

  7. I love your blog, this is what im looking for, the good memories. we were in Italy last summer, we visited alot, so looking at your pictures made me remember the good stuff we had there. and I cant wait to go back next year. we loved Italy, specially Florence… great posts, great pics.

  8. we managed to miss iconic Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence during just last July trip.. even though we spent two nights..because my husband was so caught up with the leather market purchasing only to return home finding them subpar quality..love Florence and will go back there instead of Rome and Venice 🙂

    • I couldn’t agree more in regards to Florence – my favorite city in Italy, too. Rome is nice and definitely worth seeing, but it comes with all of the usual problems that exist in huge, mega-cities. And as far as Venice, I stayed 2 days, which in retrospect was probably 1 day too many. I’m glad I went, but I doubt I’ll make the effort to return.

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