Wednesday, March 26, 2008

James's Visit and other

SO! James came to visit over a long weekend and we had a great time. His trip was based entirely around food, so we made sure to eat out a lot and find the best places. We succeeded in Florence and Siena, not so much in the Cinque Terre (minus some very good cinnamon gelato).

We started in Florence by going to the Mercato Centrale, which is a market for locals consisting almost entirely of cheese and huge chunks of meat. As in, there were entire cows hanging from the meat racks. Suffice it to say James was in foodie heaven. After that we stopped by a few places for espresso and went to the Uffizi to enjoy some art. We also walked around Florence some the night before and I educated him on some places he must know about if he is going to get his masters in architecture, such as a few of Brunelleschi's beautiful churches.

In Siena we wandered and James showed me where he lived and hung out when he studied here seven years ago, we went to a soccer game (where Siena beat Parma 2-0), and we found the best not-too-too-expensive osteria in Siena. Really we were never eating at places where the food cost too much, it seemed to be the wine that got us in trouble. . .but it was fabulous and of course worth every Euro (sorry Dad).

For the last day and a half we went to the Cinque Terre! It was beautiful. Basically these are five towns slumping into the sea, surrounded by rocky coast and mountains. And there are hiking trails galore. And the weather was fantastic. There were snow clouds hanging over the tops of the mountains just behind us, but above the towns and out towards the sea was clear and beautiful!

And today. . .I went to the wonderful town of San Gimignano! We went with our Sienese Art class and then I stayed for a while to wander around. Once again, just another little medieval town, but San Gimignano is wonderful because it's perfectly in the middle of being touristy enough but not too much. Also, it has retained its tall towers built by the aristocratic families that give it the nickname "Medieval Manhattan" (both the Sienese and Florentine governments had these chopped off to decrease family rivalries, but of course it didn't work). Then I found a little park on top of the hill where there were few people, a man playing some sort of Renaissance instrument, and beautiful views of the surrounding hills. And then I proceeded to find a nice leather bag and a ceramics shop. Not too much damage was done though.

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