Our original plan for this day was to go early to Fiesole, a beautiful hilltop village that overlooks Florence. As we got off the autostrada, we slowly got into the streets of Florence, noticing what an interesting, beautiful, but very crowded city it was. Driving along the streets on the south side of the Arno, we found ourselves at a very crowded and buzzing Piazzelle Michaelangelo, a broad piazza with parking and a replica of the David. I planned heading up there anyway, so we stopped for our first look at Firenze.
When we got to the very narrow one lane curvy road heading up to Fiesole's heights, we were met head-on with car after car racing down around every bend! Parts were so narrow I was forced to back up until it was barely wide enough for the oncoming car to squeeze past us... literally with inches between us and the wall on one side and our cars on the other. Now I know why Italians are in the habit of parking or even driving with their mirrors pulled in! After one guy passing shouted something to me I realized their is some sort of odd pecking order on who has to back up and who gets to stand his ground. God! (Note the photo below... the arrows show who has the right of way). In hindsight, Tommy took us us the wrong road. It turned out there was a much wider road going up to Fiesole that would have been a lot easier on my blood pressure.
After asking a poliziotto if my handicapped placard was OK, I went back to the hilly spot where I was wedged between two cars on a street so narrow the mirror had to be tucked in... and waited and waited for no cars on the street so I could handbrake and first gear out of the spot and immediately put it in reverse to get back into the handicapped spot that I was parked in originally! Thanks, Sweetie! (Is the sarcasm coming through?)
Roman baths, temples, alters and a huge amphitheater. Fiesole is alive with history: It was an Etruscan settlement in the 8th century BC; The Romans built over the Etruscan remains; The town once was a rival of Florence itself until being conquered by them; Leonardo da Vinci experimented with flight from its steep hillside; in the 14th century, wealthy Florentines built some of the best examples of Renaissance villas on its hillsides overlooking Florence. Their Etruscan museum was wonderful. We had a great experience time-traveling down there.
Afterwards we had lunch in a ten seat little trattoria...Vinandro. Wild Boar Stew stew for me (amazing!), Pumpkin Soup for Lisa and a classic Saffron Risotto for Lucas. He got in a little trouble by saying it was better than Dad's risotto. This was the best meal so far in Italy. (A Later Note: Looking back at the end of our Voyage, this lunch at Vinandro turned out to be the BEST meal in all of Italy, in my opinion).
Besides, we've been having a great time off the tourist path in the smaller hilltowns. OK, so I don't fulfill a life long dream of seeing "The" David, but my sweet boy will be happier and having more fun today if we don't drag him around in that Florentine tourist soup.
Besides, I've studied the David statue and many other great works of life in detail during my life. I've already seen the Pieta in person... and the Mona Lisa... and Monet's lilies, and Winged Victory... and the Birth of Venus... and The Thinker... and so many other thousands of the Masters' works. It's like this: I don't need to actually meet Paul Simon or James Taylor (wait, bad example... we did meet James) to appreciate their music. Art can be appreciated from afar in thousands of photographs. (Check out the David HERE). I'm not really into putting our little family in great discomfort for the sake of a hard and fast "must-see" list for Italy. I'm trying to be flexible so we come out of this Grand Voyage happy, fulfilled and without regrets...
What's next, I wonder?