Florence, Italy

Having met in Florence during our first year in college, it has a special place in our hearts and we have always wanted to walk the Boyos down our memory lane. We stayed at a hotel near Piazza San Marco next to one of our favorite pasticcerias so we would be able to have our pick of the early morning pastries. Unfortunately, even though it was still early May the temperature in Florence was very hot and muggy, which was not entirely unpredictable since Florence is built atop a swamp, but as a result we opted for touring the city with the boyos in their stroller. We visited all our favorite haunts, including Roberto Cavalli at Piazza della Repubblica for their rasberry jam cookies (its Italy, everyone sells cookies). We walked to Brunelleschi’s Duomo and had a look around inside with the boyos. We were going to have a look inside the Baptistry across from it as well but by then it was early afternoon and the sun was as hot as the line to enter was long, Lucy and I, having seen it before opted to just skip it trusting that the boyos would not mind. From there we walked to Piazza della Signoria, where the Republic held its headquarters and Savonarola burned Botticellis before he too went up in smoke.

Blessu and Shuey by the Ponte Vecchio.

We strolled passed the Uffizi Gallery which houses the most famous Caravaggios in the world. We made our way towards il Ponte Vecchio taking a rest at a hidden café on a grassy knoll by the bank of the Arno river watching the rowers glide by. We circled around passed Santa Maria Novella, which houses one of Giotto’s more famous and haunting portraits of the crucifixion, so much so that we practically had avert the Boyos’ eyes. Finally we ended up back at the Piazza della Repubblica for gelato, and to rub the nose of Il Porcellino (the bronze Tuscan boar) for good luck. We then made our way back slowly but pleasurably through the open market bartering for some excellent leather goods and other trinkets along the way until we arrived at our hotel to rest up and freshen up before dinner. We walked up the secluded via Bolognese to hit up Bar Lidia, a tabbachi frequented by NYU on-campus students for phone cards and milk, but they also make the most decadent paninis with all the best traditional flavors Tuscany has to offer. Their toppings act as paints on a palate for you to create your own personal masterpiece. To this day, try as we might, Lucy and I have been unable to recreate it and boy have we searched far and wide for such ingredients.

Mark and the Boyos in front of the Duomo.

Lucy and the Boyos strolling down the via (in front of the Duomo).

The following day we decided to take it easy so we dropped by the Mercato Centrale for some picnic supplies to bring to the Boboli Gardens right next to the Palazzo Ducale (the dukes residence). The boyos liked this plan much more, not just because of all the hanging meats and cheeses in the market for them to smell and gauk at, but also because they got to run and play in the lush open gardens, Blessu looking to chase the Italian equivalent to squirrels. There are many side trips one can do from Florence, you can visit their rival city Sienna, their sister city Pisa, or even the lesser know Lucca or San Gimignano. Lucy and I, however, decided on a quiet drive through the countryside to the Village of Chianti. It was much quieter than we expected, in fact, it was hard to even find an open shop, but those that were open were gems full of peoples’ personal wine and grappa collections. Some of which were for sale while others were displayed just to lead you into temptation. Returning to Firenze we decided to spend the night in with our prized bottle of chianti and we knew exactly what we wanted to pair it with.

The Boyos with Il Porcelino.

We ended our trip with lunch at Zaza, our favorite trattoria. As it was relatively early during the siesta period the restaurant was emptier than usual and the staff, having recognized us from the several previous dinners we had already eaten there, let us sit in the main dining room with the Boyos who were already hot and sprawled out on the cool tile floor, or at least until they realized I was having steak!

Best part: Visiting all the places dear to us and sharing them with our boys. Worst part: having no time to collect our hefty VAT refund (tax exemption) check at the airport!

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