Five months have passed since I left the farm in Normandy, was detained and deported out of the UK, and finally made it back to the USA.
That’s twenty-one months, if you’re keeping score at home, that I was gone from the country of my birth, roaming around much of Europe, as well as traveling to Morocco, Israel, Jordan, China, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
Nothing too out of the ordinary happened while I was back home. I spent time with my friends Dennis and PJ from Via Lucis at their home in Cape Cod, saw a host of other friends in Boston, NYC and San Francisco.
Then I came back to San Diego and finally remembered what it was like to sleep in my own bed. Oh, and I also spent a lot of time going to the beach. I’m biased, but there’s no place I would rather watch the sunset than at La Jolla Shores beach, with the waves of the Pacific dark blue in the last light and streaks of pink and orange lighting up the distant sky.
I had a pretty quiet summer, focused mostly on building up my workload as a writer to save money, hung out with my family and made a few new friends. But this wasn’t really coming home for good, not yet.
Right before I left Europe at the beginning of May I bought a ticket to Florence.
I wasn’t ready to say goodbye–especially since, despite seeing so much of Italy, I had never set foot in the city that gave birth to the Renaissance.
The Duomo looms over this city–it’s visible from so many different angles and from so many different places.
It’s kind of like an awkward, friendly giant hanging around.
Since I came here with the intention of continuing to work, things have been busy for me. This is my first week here and I’ve still yet to enter the Duomo or hit up the major museums.
One place I have visited is Santa Maria Novella, which is located conveniently next to the central train station of the city. European city planning never ceases to boggle my mind–imagine getting off the train, buying a cheap ticket to enter Santa Maria Novella, and then laying eyes upon the monumental crucifix inside by Giotto, just a couple minutes later?
There’s also the famous Holy Trinity fresco by Massaccio–no lightweight Renaissance artist either.
And while I have so much art left to see, I’ve made a point of consuming as much pizza, pannini, and gelato as possible.
The Mercato Centrale is a bit pricey since it caters especially to tourists, but you’re also guaranteed to have an excellent meal. Think of it like the Florentine version of Mercado San Miguel in Madrid.
For just four Euro–which is thankfully super weak right now–this porchetta pannino really hit the spot. A generous serving of pickled red onions on top gave it a nice tang to compliment the equally zesty mustard slathered on the bottom of the bun.
As for Murakami’s The Windup Bird Chronicle, I’m getting there.
I’ll get to the rest of Florence too, eventually–I still have two weeks left here before I head off to visit friends in other parts of Europe. And I might be back for the last week of November, depending on how things work out some of my friends.
If you’ve been here before, what are some other places in the city that I need to check out? Your suggestions are not only welcomed, they are appreciated!
31 thoughts on “And Then I Was In Florence”
Tell me about the gelato…
Hey Mal 🙂 You’re so predictable lol
When I have a decent sample size of gelaterias I might rank them for you, how’s that sound!
Two things that I love- Florence and Murakami 🙂 Great post!
Murakami is a bit of a challenge, but that’s why I chose him–I don’t have much space to carry books, and this will keep me occupied for a while 🙂
What’s your favorite book by him? And do you have any super awesome spots in Florence you recommend I check out?
I agree. Especially when he gets vague. Which is like always 😛 I love his South of the Border West of the Sun & 1Q84.. You?? Yes, pls. You must check out Trattoria Anita its a great place for some local dining in Florence. Do you also want some more places to eat? Or also to see?
You’re more well-versed in Murakami than I am. The only other one I’ve read by him is Kafka on the Shore, which was great. Does he always have a tendency to write about, in some way, incest? 😛
I’d probably read 1Q84 next.
I’m staying on via S. Reparata, if that helps you pinpoint where I am. Local dining options are always taken into consideration. As my friend Mal mentioned above, gelaterias especally so!
I was an art history major though, so I have a pretty good idea of where to go to see art!
Yes I am a big fan too 🙂 Thanks. Not always 😉 But its talking cats and strange worlds 😛 of course with a bit of jazz and ex girlfriend drama! 1Q84 is so eccentric but so lovely. I wish I could read it again but there is always so much to read, isn’t there?
Wow, then maybe you could help me on art for my next trip? Not the usual stuff. Will look forward to your posts. I love gelato and its the best there. Make the most of it. If you can, head to Umbria too.. !
I don’t have time to go to Umbria on this trip 😦
Make the most of your time in Florence then. I think you should visit the places I mentioned 😉 More recos needed for food?
If you can visit Fiesole from Florence. Check this- https://ishitasood.wordpress.com/2015/07/01/30/
I will be visiting Fiesole! So far I’ve done day trips to Lucca and Arezzo, both were lovely.
Perfect! I visited Siena and Monteriggioni too. Also San Gimignano!
I will DEFINITELY be going to Siena. Not sure about Monteriggioni, and I hear that San Gimignano is must-see despite the huge crowd of tourists.
I liked them all despite the crowd. Monteriggioni is very tiny but perfect to relax. I am writing about Siena incidentally, how cool is that?!
Well I’m looking forward to reading what you have to say about Siena 🙂
It will be up next week!
Polpa Burger & Ristorante Pane e Vino too 🙂
Polpa looks really good! It’s very near my flat. But as an American I don’t really feel so much desire to eat a burger, since we have lots of great burger places back home 🙂
Ha-ha I’m sure then. Go with the local places!
Also, did you try Geleteria Carapina?? One of my favorites in Florence.. Small alley near ponte vecchio!
No not yet, I went to one near piazza della passera today, not far from Santo Spirito, and it was excellent!
Il try it next time then 😉
Also, please do head to Piazzale Michaelangelo if you haven’t already. Stunning views of the city. But best views from Fiesole 😉 Also, do check Todo Modo- a great bookshop cum caffe
Is it strange that this post made me so happy, Nathan? To hear that you’re back in Europe (and in Florence, no less?) 🙂 Good for you, I can’t wait to hear more about your experiences. Have you been up to Piazzale Michaelangelo yet? There’s the most incredible view of the city from up there.
I just said the same 🙂 Glad we think alike on this! Stunning views really!
Hey Nadine 🙂 Nice hearing from you, and sorry I’ve been in the dark, blog-wise, for so long!
It was about damn time I made it to Florence, I’ll say that.
And I have, in fact, been up to Piazzale Michelangelo. It was my second night in the city, and I actually had the company of a very pretty girl from Tennessee who’s studying abroad here right now. Definitely a good place to take a date 🙂
Well done, Nathan… two days in the city and you not only found a date, but found the perfect place to take her. 😉 (though I have to agree- I was there last year with my Italian “friend”, and with the sunset and the views it was definitely a romantic spot).
Enjoy soaking up all of that great art!!!
ah, so of course you see why I went 😉
Just love reading your blog Nathan. Thanks. Martin Jackson
Thanks Martin! Great having you along 🙂 I’m sorry I haven’t been as prolific as before–I’ve been pretty busy making a living as a freelance writer. Gotta pay the bills somehow!