Firenze, Ti amo

Yesterday began in somewhat of a rush, after a miscommunication regarding the start time of our visit to the Medici tombs (which I can’t deny may have had something to do with the slightly excessive alcohol consumption the previous night). Nonetheless, after the initial panic things were swiftly back on track, and after a salad lunch on the terrace and an afternoon rest and market browse (where some scumbag vendor tried to fleece us out of 15 Euros-not so fast sunshine) we were ready to enjoy our final evening in central Florence.

 
A tip for anyone visiting Florence is to pre-book tickets for the famous Uffizi art gallery one or even two days before you plan to visit, as this will mean avoiding the huge queues on the day. The gallery is well worth a look around, being full of treasures such as Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. It’s well organised, air conditioned and has some of the best vantage points along its numerous corridors and terraces to enjoy unrestricted views of the Arno river, Duomo and town hall.
 
After two hours spent wandering around the Uffizi-the only mild irritation being the hordes of tourists and tour guides passing through the halls-we went back to the restaurant where we’d dined on our first night for one last plate of mixed grilled meats, which we followed up with one last gelato at Vivoli  ice cream parlour (when we walked past it earlier in the day the queue was right down the street, but by 10pm it was virtually empty) – if you ever get a chance to sample its delights the coconut ice cream comes highly recommended.
 
As we strolled back past the hugely impressive Pizza del Duomo I took one last look around at the city I first fell in love with as a six year old, and it felt as magical in that moment as it felt all those years ago.

Lazy days

I can’t believe it’s Thursday already-it’s true what they say about time passing quickly when you’re having fun. Holidays are such an important opportunity to unwind and recuperate from the stressors of “real” life. They give the body and mind a much needed break and a chance to more fully live in and appreciate the present moment. 

 
Holidays are also often a time when we throw caution to the wind and overindulge ourselves, and nowhere is that easier to do than Italy, where there’s gelato, wine and pizza at virtually every turn.
 
Yesterday we had a lazy morning before visiting one of my favourite places in Florence-the covered market. Under its vast roof lie a multitude of delicious foodstuffs. But what I love even more than the food are the cheerful vendors. It always helps to bring my Italian flooding back when I attempt to engage in pigeon Italian conversation with them, selecting cured meats and cheeses. 
 
After buying ingredients for dinner we walked over the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge to Santo Spirito square, where my favourite restaurant in all of Florence is located-Il Borgo Antico. After dreaming of their legendary white pizza for 8 years I’m happy to say it didn’t disappoint, and afterwards we took a traditional Italian gelato to accompany a post-lunch laze in the stunning Boboli Gardens in the grounds of the Pitti Palace.
 
In the evening we prepared a four course feast and dined on the roof of our gorgeous apartment, which is so centrally located the Duomo is virtually within touching distance. There’s something magical about being located so high up above this bustling city, being able to look out across the tops of the buildings and have a bird’s eye view. Being back here after so many years is more than just a pleasure-it’s a thrill.

Viva Italia!

Thinking back to family holidays as a child evokes many happy memories. Having a half-Italian stepfather meant numerous trips to Italy, where we would visit art galleries then sit eating gelato in the sunshine and watching the world go by.

It must be getting on for ten years since I last visited Italy a la famiglia, which is why I’m extremely excited to be doing exactly that on Monday for six glorious days. Not only will it be a welcome holiday post-Glastonbury (we’ve wisely taken the decision to leave the festival a day early in order to get clean and get some rest), it will also be a great opportunity to spend time with my mum and stepdad.

The older I get the more I realise the importance of appreciating my parents. I’m ashamed to say I still turn into a grumpy teenager on occasion when I’m in in their presence, but I am gradually learning to put the adolescent in her place and enjoy interacting with them as an adult.

Roll on the art galleries and gelato – they’ve been a long time coming…