Lynda and I managed escape to Florence this weekend. Ok, we didn't escape per se. We had a meeting for a professional organization that we belong to. I have been to Florence once before, but it was an extremely short trip mainly due to a torrential down pour and horrendous thunder storm that forced us back to the safety (and dryness) of the villa we were staying in. So, I was really looking forward to getting back there...even if only for just a night. (Plus, and let's be honest about this, one of the other reasons I was really looking forward to going was because I needed a break from work...I needed a night away!)
We arrived just after noon so that we could have a couple of hours to relax before our meeting began. We grabbed a quick lunch and walked around the city and ended at Piazza Michelangelo, which overlooks the entire city. I forgot how much I really do like Florence. In fact, I love that city. First, it's incredibly beautiful. The buildings are charming and rustic. There are frescos all over the place and it's just a really clean city compared to Rome. Second, it's a slower-paced city. It takes its time. It knows that life is meant to savored rather than rushed. It reminds me of the difference between Tucson and Phoenix in terms of size and atmosphere. I love that mountains sit all around Florence and the green of Tuscany envelopes the city.
The meetings that we attended were very beneficial and we made some great contacts, but what really stood out was the food. Oh my stars! We went to a dinner for new directors at an amazing restaurant! It was a true Italian meal in that there were 4 courses and it lasted nearly 3 hours. We started (appetizers are called antipasti) with three kinds of bruschetta, mussels, and a seafood salad. Then, it was time for primo piatto, typically pasta. We had an amazing spaghetti dish with clams, ravioli, and fabulous funghi (mushroom) risotto. For secondo piatto we had cinghale, wild boar, with fried polenta (I've never had boar, but this was excellent!!) and bistecca alla fiorentina, steak. The meat was followed by the most incredible roasted potatoes. For dolci, we had a light custardy-type cake. It was good, but then again Italians aren't known for their sweets outside of gelato. The meal was incredible. Students have asked if we can tell them where it is because we're taking them there in 2 weeks for a weekend.
Overall, it was a great trip and I feel refreshed. It was such a blessing to be able to get away and entrust the students (and house) to my RA. He did an amazing job and I trust him immensely.
If you ever get to visit Italy you must do two things: 1) come see me! and 2) do not miss Firenze...it's an incredible city that holds many hidden treasures and will cause you to fall deeply in love with its charm and culture.