Food and wine in Switzerland, Italy, and Liechtenstein… part nine

Figuring out Florence…

After I bought my new scarf, which was carefully packaged for me by the stylish shopkeeper, Bill and I took a walk over the Ponte Vecchio and crossed the Arno. Whenever I look at the Arno River, I want to break into “O Mio Babbino Caro” by Giacomo Puccini. I learned that song when I studied voice years ago. I’m probably too old for it, now… my “beloved daddy” has been dead for several years now. But when I was in my 20s, it was a good song for me. I did even better, though, with Puccini’s “Musetta’s Waltz”. Being in Italy makes me want to break out in song!

The Ponte Vecchio is a medieval stone bridge. It’s got many shops along it. At this writing, most of the tenants on Ponte Vecchio are jewelers. It was very crowded when we walked across, and God knows I don’t need any more jewelry, so we just walked across and milled around for a little while on the southern side of the river. Last time we were in Florence, circa 2013, we explored more on this side of the Arno, even visiting a beautiful church there and sitting in a park, where I observed several local seniors gathering to chat. I’m nine years older now, and have fewer spoons for walking, so we walked a couple of blocks and came back across the bridge to look for lunch.

I took this in 2013.

I usually follow my nose when I go looking for food in different cities. My nose rarely lets me down. Such was the case when we found Ristorante Il Paiolo, not too far from the heart of Florence. An affable waiter who laughed at my jokes seated us at a table. I noticed there were models of the Bistecca alla Florentina in a case by the entrance. Several people ordered that during our visit, and I must admit, it smelled fantastic. But since we knew we were going to have that on Friday night, after meeting up with our wine tour, Bill and I deliberately made other choices for lunch. I went with chopped wild boar and polenta (Cinghiale alla maremmana e polenta). Bill ordered beef with cannellini beans. We paired our dishes with a lovely bottle of wine… one of many on our trip.

After lunch, we walked around more to burn off lunch. I took more photos and a video. Sadly, this time we didn’t run into Piotr Tomaszewski, a very talented busker we found during our last visit. He is easily found on YouTube. We bought his beautiful CDs in 2013, which I still love listening to now. Instead, we found this guy…

Not very exciting…
I didn’t make this video, but this is Piotr Tomaszewski, a talented busker we saw last time in Florence. I understand he was based there for several years. I don’t know if he still is. His music made me cry.

Later, we headed back to the hotel, because I needed to call my bank in the States and get them to fix my online access to my account. I’m still hunting for a less annoying bank. I’m getting discouraged. That was also a good time for a nap, so I took one before we went out for dinner at a brewpub. We figured we were going to drink a lot of wine over the weekend, so beer would be a good idea., although I have had better burgers than what they had at Hops Pub. At least it was relatively cheap! And one of the waitresses reminded me of a friend from my hometown. We walked over 6 miles on Thursday!

Stay tuned for part ten…


Cruise tickets arrived yesterday…

The FedEx guy showed up while I was on the phone with my mom.  He brought me wine and a very stylish leather portfolio containing cruise documents.  I looked through it yesterday and noticed that the discount SeaDream used to give people who book onboard appears to have been rescinded.  Now, it looks like you have to book a specific cruise, pay a 25% deposit and get 5% off.

In the past, you could get that deal, or you could do an “open booking”, pay $2500, and get 15% off.  We’ve done two open bookings.  Both times, I was under the heavy influence of champagne and a good time.  This time, we might not do it.  There are other cruise lines I want to try, especially since I have a tendency to throw up on SeaDream (small ship + rough waters= seasickness).  I would probably pick another ship that causes me to puke, but SeaDream is also more expensive than other lines…

So we’ll see.  Of course, if I end up having as much fun as I usually do, I might want to book anyway.  The bad thing is that next year, my husband will be leaving his job and adjusting to life as a civilian.  We may not have the money to go on vacation, so I want to make this one count.  And if I can manage one for the fall, I want to make that one count too.

I do like the portfolio.  It smells great.

I posted about the discount issue on Cruise Critic yesterday and people were kind of upset.  This implied new policy may end up backfiring.