September 23, 2011
Our morning started off on a quite an interesting note. After checkout we made our way to the train station to book our beds on the overnight train to Munich. However, there were only two seats left on the train since it was Italian Weekend at Oktoberfest. After begging and pleading and lots of hands being thrown in the air, we discovered we were stuck in Firenze another night and would have to make the 8 hour journey to Munich the following day.
We found a restaurant with wifi and scoured the web to find housing for the night. Since it was a Friday, most of the hotels in Firenze were booked. We finally settled on a hostel by the Arno River. Once we walked all the way across the city to the hostel, the receptionist informed us that we would be staying at a different location. After our Zagreb experience, I asked her to show me exactly where we would be going. She looked at the map and, low and behold, we would be staying on Borgo Pinti, exactly where our previous hotel was located. After a few minutes walk, she led us to the door directly next to our accommodations at Hotel Cardinal. Out of all of the places in the city, what are the odds that our room would be next to our previous one (see photo below: Nat is in front of old hotel, Kat is in front of the new one)? Luckily, we knew the area, threw our bags down and set out to explore the city.
We walked to the Duomo only to discover that it closed about two minutes before we got there. Luckily, the Baptistry and Tower were still open. The Baptistry is located across from the Duomo and features an incredible dome of gold mosaics.
Years ago, when I stayed in Firenze before I headed to Lucca for my opera program, I stayed in an apartment close to the Duomo. The cutest music store was just a few doors down from our place and I got to know the wonderful owner, Maurizio, and his son, Duccio. The girls and I went back to the store, Occasioni Musicali, and low and behold, Maurizio was there. He remembered who I was immediately and even pulled out the card and photos that I had sent him a few years ago. It was so wonderful to see him again. He has the most incredible collection of music memorabilia and sheet music that I have ever seen. The girls and I purchased wonderful souvenirs for an extremely generous price from Maurizio. He has a heart of gold and the girls and I adore our antique sheet music and librettos.
Following our lovely visit with Maurizio, we headed to the tower and climbed the 414 steps to wonderful views of the city and watched the sunset.
For dinner we went to Osteria de' Benci for the famous Spaghetti dell'Umbriacone. This dish features spaghetti soaked in red wine with garlic and red pepper. It is incredible and I have been attempting to recreate it since I first had it years ago. Combined with the house wine, we were feeling fabulous as we made our way back to our room for the evening.