What I Saw:
In Photographs: Firenze and Toscana, Italia
What I Was Listening To:
PLAYLIST: Europa! Europa!
As frenetic as Roma was, it was calm and quaint for the rest of my Italy trip. Off we drove to the Toscana region, where Italy’s charm factor shot up by a few more hundred points. We rented a beautiful villa up in one of the mountains of Donnini, where we literally had no next-door neighbors. From there, we drove ourselves around the region — to Firenze, Verona, San Gimignano, Assisi (where I spent my birthday), Montepulciano, Pienza, and Pisa. This whole time was spent eating all kinds of carbs and gelato, tasting wine, and smelling leather.
Where To Go:
The San Lorenzo Market in Florence is the best place to find genuine Italian leather. I bought a beautiful satchel, and it still smells like leather today. And believe it or not, the leather has outlasted the purse’s metal clasp. Such great quality!
And, just around the corner, in one of the small side streets, is where I found the creamiest, darkest chocolate gelato I’ve ever had. I wish I had taken down the name! But all I remember of it is that from the market, I walked a line of restaurants, turned right at the end of the street, continued on, found a European equivalent of a dollar store to my left, and the gelateria to my right. I walked in, asked for the dark chocolate gelato. The gelateria owner said to me:
“Do you know how you sound while you’re eating that?? I’m happy just my gelato can make someone feel that way.”
Well, I am just as happy to have been able to make you feel that way, sir.
Another worthy stop was Montepulciano, where parts of Twilight was shot, apparently? I’m not into it, so I’m not going to dwell. Rather, I will harp on about its super fat cats (the strays look like pillows!) and the 1,000 year-old Cantucci wine cellar. It has kept people happy and drunk that whole time, so it must be doing something good. I know it kept me warm, at the very least: I am from the tropics, and I was not agreeing to 12-degree weather.
Pienza, is a gorgeous provincial town where I imagine one of my other selves (in a parallel timeline, the one who can bear to live in the cold) settling down as an old lady, baking bread in the morning and selling it to the other villagers, while her Italian shoemaker husband makes her coffee.
In Assisi, of course, there is the Basilica e Sacro Convento de San Francesco d’Assisi, where his tomb is. And, Il Tempio di Minerva, which was once a pagan temple, and is now a church. It stood out to me because its architecture was distinctive from the environment; it looked more like a Roman edifice, rather than Tuscan.
I could go on and on and on about Italy’s charm. Rome was intricate and sophisticated; Tuscany was quaint, quiet, welcoming. It felt like a warm hug from my grandmother. I would stay, if only it were not so cold!