Cheap Eats, Cold Beer & Dirty Feet│One of our most favorite things to do while traveling, is to find small, local places to eat. We don’t really like sitting in the busy restaurants, ordering overpriced foods, and being surrounded by tourists. On this particular day in Florence, we walked around a huge piazza, looking at various menus, but nothing really caught our eye. Eventually, as our bellies started to call for food, we sat down at one of the restaurants. They pretty much all seemed the same , so what did it matter anyway?
We chose a table which was not clumped together with the rest. It was a small one, all by itself, and with a good view of those walking by, and the surrounding area. The waiter came over and motioned for us to go into the tightly packed outdoor restaurant area. We told him that we wanted a little more privacy/ space, but he said that if we sat at that table we would get bombarded by people trying to sell us things, or beg for money. Reluctantly we joined all the other tourists and sat in outdoor area. Even though we sat in a corner, away from the rest… it still felt so lifeless and boring in there. As we opened the menus we realized that we really didn’t feel like paying those prices if we didn’t completely want to eat there.
Food is such an experience for me (Catherine). I don’t want to eat in a place that has no atmosphere or charm – especially while I’m on vacation… IN ITALY! I feel like a higher price on a menu should mean that you get even more of an authentic feel.. but unfortunately, in this, the busiest part of Florence, it was so touristy that each restaurant felt like a carbon copy of the next.
The real gems are those little restaurants down the side streets. The places were locals go! Where there is music, where the tables are small but charming, and where you don’t look at a menu and stop to sit down… instead the smell as you are passing by draws you in! THOSE are the places where I want to eat. Of course, having a two year old does add a bit of complication to all of that, but still, we knew what we wanted, and this fancy restaurant was NOT IT! We got up, excused ourselves, and continued on.
A few minutes later we came to this courtyard….
There was music playing, a very relaxed atmosphere, and not too many people around. We spotted a cheap looking restaurant, and outside of it were many locals drinking beer and enjoying snack foods. The owner came out and waved us. He pulled a chair out at one of the tables, and then gave us a big grin. There was no doubt about it – this is where we would settle down and have a bite to eat. Even if the food wasn’t the best, we had found our “atmosphere” so this is where we were going to stay!
We ordered a couple of Italian Peroni’s and some food, and then sat back to take in the surroundings. The buildings around us where high, and the courtyard we were in was not that big. So despite being a warm day, it was pleasantly cool and refreshing sitting there. The table next to us was a group of Italian university students, and listening to them talk made us smile. Italian sure is an elegant language.. It just flows!
Eli often just shares with us, but lately, as his appetite grows, we have had to order him something small on side. We are pleased that we haven’t yet moved into three full meals zone! Justin got a pizza and I ordered a ham and cheese ciabatta. The owner – a sweet man with a friendly face, a warm personality, and a round belly – was about as Italian as they come! He instantly took a liking to Eli and kept bring him little bowls of chips. He brought us a bowl of peanuts and then handed Eli the chips and said, “Just for you… not for mommy and daddy”.
When we were done eating, Eli wanted to walk around. He also didn’t want to wear his sandals. While we were sightseeing, and he was in the stroller, he would often lean down to take them off. Since they fasten closed with velcro strips, he quickly figure out how to get them off. He would often just toss them to the side while we were walking – but luckily we always noticed and were able to walk back a couple steps to get them. Although not a good habit, I have to admit, it was quite amusing the see a shoe come flying out the side of the stroller… “What the heck?” The kid loves being barefoot, and I (Mama) really don’t blame him.
He refused to put his shoes on after he had eaten some food, so we let him run around the courtyard barefoot.
When he was done flirtering with the kitchen lady, running in and out of the restaurant, and making daddy chase him up a small nearby alleyway – this is what those little feet looked like…
From where we were sitting we could see Casa di Dante. Dante was a major Italian poet of the Late Middle Ages. His home, in the heart of medieval Florence, was converted into a museum. One of the most evocative buildings in the city is the home of the Museum of Dante’s House.
“The original building, dilapidated by time, was rebuilt in the first decade of the twentieth century right where the Alighieri family homes once stood and where in 1265 Dante was born, according to a local memory handed down over the centuries which has always indicated the group of houses near the Torre della Castagna as “Dante’s houses.” “– Source of quote
We didn’t go inside the museum – instead we continued walking around the streets of Florence. Knowing us, we probably stopped for more gelato or beer! hehehe!
Our last remaining wish for Florence was to see David – a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture created between 1501 and 1504 by Michelangelo. With our bellies full, and our hearts hepppy – we walked from here in the direction of the Galleria dell’Accademia to see the statue of David.