Krista on Tour continues. I dropped by Florence on the way to the wedding of two good friends in Tuscany. I haven’t been to Florence in, um, 20 years? Maybe 19. It’s full of tourists. Like super-full of tourists. I explained to my traveling companions that Italy has a worryingly low birth-rate. I’m not sure my friends believed me because I just sounded so dire and pessimistic. “There are no Italians left in Italy! Good pizza will become a myth!!”
So who wouldn’t want to raise children in Italy? Italians, apparently. Here…read this about the hows and whys. Then, have fun playing with this graph here. Italians have roughly 9 births per 1000 inhabitants. In the US, we’re at 14. The UK is at 12.
My friend Matt and I drank a lot of Italian beer in our hotel room in Florence while we watched the England match. It was hot and Matt and I were happy just to chill out while Matt’s wife (and my friend) Lee traipsed around Florence with their six-month old twins. Lee’s energy is astounding. (The more I travel, the tireder I get and the less I want to see things. I can’t imagine how I would do this with children.) While in Florence, we stayed a the Il Guelfo Bianco, a neat and tidy tourist class hotel that I liked for its location and for its tilework. It wasn’t fancy by any stretch, but we liked that they had a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom apartment with a large living area.
We did see one thing though. The Gucci Museum. I’m a fan in general, but let me tell you, this small and compact museum is ridiculously well done. The presentation, the staff, the lighting, the artwork, the TOILETS. I would definitely recommend a stop here.
The EXTREMELY helpful Eat Florence app ($2.99 in the Apple app store) steered us towards Cipolla Rossa one afternoon, and we were not disappointed. I ate a piece of tender veal as big as my head, covered in garlic cloves. (Not surprisingly, I wasn’t invited to hop onto the back of anyone’s Vespa afterwards.) The real stars at the table though were the pastas. If I could order all over again, I would go with the gnocchi which was in a spicy cheese sauce, or the pasta that was like a carbonara but wasn’t. Recommended. Close to The Duomo. Via de’ Conti, 53
Some of the best gelato we had (and we had a lot) was at Cantina del Gelato, which is across the Ponte de Vecchio down the street on the left. Don’t expect gimmicks and tricks here and if you’re a person who values the number of options over the quality of the product, Cantina del Gelato isn’t for you. This is artisanal and small. And pretty delicious. Via de Bardi, 31
Another guidebook favorite was Trattoria Zaza, and while I initially cringed at the look of the place (tourist hell), the service was super friendly and I could not lodge any complaints against my ravioli with truffles. Zaza works out if you’re in the area and can’t be bothered. But if you’re looking for something special, this is probably not the place for you. (They are so in tune with the tourist trade now that they have American students wandering around trying to sell you their cookbooks and ingredients.) Piazza Mercato Centrale. You really can’t miss it.
So, a whirlwind tour of Florence. After our lunch at Trattoria Zaza (and a stop for gelato of course), it was time to depart for Tuscany…