So the day I left off on in my last post led to playing in the pool and a nap for Ella in the stroller while we ate lunch at a nearby grocery store / lunch spot called La Botega a Rosano, which was the only one open nearby and was closing as we arrived but the Italians take pity on children and fed us anyway: perfectly prepared PASTA and gnocchi, drowning in olive oil (or was it butter?).
After a brief relaxing afternoon, we headed to dinner at the “nice restaurant” in “town” (Sieci is TINY, with a population of about 3,000, so those quotation marks are warranted). It was an open-air restaurant (have I mentioned it’s been in the 90s?) near the town square known for its rotisserie chicken called Arrosto Girato. Best part? It was 2 doors down from the only laundromat!
Best best part? The laundromat was 3 doors down from a gelato shop, La Via del Gelato. Before leaving for Italy, Ella had a bit of a snotty nose, which often heads towards an ear infection, so our doctor wrote an antibiotic prescription for us to take with us and shared words of doctorly wisdom (and I quote: “One further thing…I know I always stress healthy balanced eating but when in Italy, you cannot eat too much gelato.“)
Doctors orders, what can I say?
The following day we headed into Firenze (Florence) on the train for a jam-packed day of tourist joy. Up first, the Museo di Palazzo Vecchio, because they had what they called a “Family Kit” which included activities for kids to use through the museum. Honestly, EVERY museum should have this. There was a puzzle, binoculars, a crown and various cards and books housed in colored folders that worked like a scavenger hunt in each section of the museum.
After lunch at the museum, we headed to the nearby Ponte Vecchio, the bridge of gold (stores), likely one of the most touristy parts of Florence. My mother’s favorite place in Italy. Of course, Zoe wanted something (come on, it’s GOLD GOLD EVERYWHERE!), to which Bart immediately agreed, until we saw that a simple gold ring was over 250 euros – for Zoe to likely lose it (or lose interest in it) quickly. A ring is NOT a fidget spinner, which by the way we searched for one of those in many parts of Italy, and while they are sold by peddlers on the street all around, many don’t actually work (as we found when we bought a light-up one in a store).
Anyway, on the last store on the bridge I relented (it’s my mother’s FAVORITE place in Italy!) and we got incredibly lucky. The lady in the store understood what was going on and led us to a 20 euro gold plated filagree ring, perfect for a little girl. So Nina (my mom) gave Zoe a ring from the Ponte Vecchio. Mission accomplished.
We decided to skip the Uffizi, given the lukewarm success of the very interactive (but very crowded) Museo di Palazzo Vecchio but agreed that we shouldn’t leave Florence without seeing the David at the Galleria dell’Accademia. On the way you’ll never guess what we found: Our 150th Gelateria. That’s right, an entire country dedicated to my husband (and children)’s obsession with ice cream.
This one was phenomenal. Born in 1878 (where but Italy has such history for even ice cream?), Venchi is a high end gelateria with its own line of chocolates as well. Delicious. We also found a carousel in the middle of the Piazza della Repubblica that we had seen on the way to our cooking class, oh, and we stopped by the Chicco store and bought a second stroller (which ended up being an incredible idea).
We also walked by the Duomo and its amazing structures (one of my favorite parts of Florence), pausing to strike a pose:
After which, Zoe literally fell asleep in the stroller, clearly dreaming of pizza:
Thankfully, she didn’t miss the David, and while we had been disappointed that we bought the Firenze Card but didn’t go to many museums, being able to skip an incredibly long line made up for it. We had gotten a fun scavenger hunt book about Florence which gives kids points for answering questions, noticing / finding things around the city and drawing what you see. Here’s what Zoe noticed about the David: “Privits” (think about it).
Honestly, I don’t know what the right age for travel to Europe is, but 2 or 6 is NOT IT. Zoe was moderately interested in “another old thing, Mom?”, even with the help of family kits, books and tour guides. Ella slept through tours, stroller and carrier rides through the city, train and auto rides, and preferred “the Amazons” on her iPad to the history outside it. Worse, kids aren’t maintenance free, giving space for parents to absorb and fall in love with “another old thing” or enjoy a great meal or glass of incredible wine.
We did our best. And in our full day in Florence, exhausted and sweaty, we ended up at a restaurant our friends recommended called Ristorante il Paiolo where my adventurous self ordered a ravioli filled with pear and hard cheese and smothered in a beetroot cream sauce. May sound disgusting but it was absolutely the best pasta I have ever had (and that’s not just the Italian wine talking).
Yes, I just posted a picture of pasta.
We made it back to the train station without issue and home safe to our hot, slow internet connection but oh-so-lovely farmhouse up the hill in the Italian countryside. Buona Notte.