Today is the first time this year that someone has come to Florence to see me and to tour my beloved city. Usually someone in my family comes out for a visit, but this year no one has. My friend George emailed me a few weeks ago to tell me that he was coming to work in Milan for a week. He decided to come down for a quick visit of Florence because he had never been here and because we haven't seen each other in a year. We met at a conference for work many years ago when I was living in California and then he hired me to work on his company website. While we were working together, we began opening up to each other and we have since become good friends.
I walked to the stazione (train station) a little before 11am to pick him up. We had a meeting point in case we didn't spot each other, but I called his name as soon as I saw him walking down the binario (platform).
We walked out of the stazione and toward the centro (city center). As we walked past the Santa Maria Novella chiesa (church) we decided to go in for a visit. I just had to show my carta d'identità (ID card) to prove I was a resident and he paid the low entrance fee. At the door of the chiesa, the man handed me a blue smock to cover my shoulders because they were bare.
We perused the chiesa and admired the artwork. We caught glimpses of the chiostro (cloister), but didn't walk around it. I love visiting a place with someone new because I always see something new. George talked to me about the choices that an artist makes and that everything is put in the painting intentionally. I hadn't really thought about it before, but I began to look at where each person in the painting was looking and what seemed to be going on behind the scenes. It was truly fascinating to look at the same artwork with a fresh eye.
We went to Caffè Giacosa for some water and a chat. It was fun to watch people come and go to grab a quick caffè (coffee). We walked through the Piazza Repubblica and I showed him the Duomo. He was shocked that the line to get inside was so long. I then took him to one of my favorite restaurants, which unfortunately was closed at lunch, so I had to take him to another restaurant near Santo Spirito.
After a quick, but delicious meal, Alessandro came and picked us up to take us to Piazzale Michelangiolo to get a view of the city. George snapped a few pictures as I pointed out all the monuments and chiese around.
Alessandro dropped us off in front of the Santa Croce chiesa. Luckily, I kept the blue smock that I received at Santa Maria Novella because I had to put it on again before being allowed to go inside. Again, I showed them my carta d'identità to get in for free. We walked around and were amazed at the restoration work that was done on two of the paintings. They restored them so that the colors were more vibrant than before.
We must have walked around for hours inside the chiesa and visited everything that was open to the public. A few things were previously closed as I hadn't seen a lot of what was there. George was amazed with the pictures of the alluvione (flood) and of all the damage that the chiesa suffered. Fortunately much of the damage has been restored, but it was shocking to see what state many of the treasures were in after the alluvione.
We walked to Piazza della Signoria to see another replica of David, which is where I took the picture shown here. We walked past the Uffizi and to the Arno so we could get to the Ponte Vecchio.
It was getting late, so Alessandro drove us to the stazione to get his train ticket back to Milan and then drove us back to the Duomo to grab a gelato (ice cream) at Grom. We ate our gelati as we walked back toward the stazione.
When his train took off, I walked through the centro and back to our apartment. I thought about how much fun I had showing off my city and giving George a small taste of Tuscan cuisine. I hope he'll come back with his wife and two children the next time because Florence is a wonderful city to share with others, and I enjoyed sharing it with him.
Share your comments for this blog post on the Living in Florence's Facebook page. Grazie!