My wife and I have had an ongoing debate about Florence.  I’ve been saying we’ve been there enough (3 times), she’s been saying not so much.  She obviously won the debate, as we went to Florence on this trip for the 4th time.  She’s been right all along.  I wanted to at least do something different this trip, so we rented a couple of villas on the hillside of Bellosguardo overlooking the city.  The pictures online of the villas depicted an idyllic and beautiful location, which indeed they were.  However, I made some incorrect assumptions about how easy/hard it would be to get between the villas and the city center.

Florence being a major city, I figured we would have no problem finding a taxi to take us from the city to our villas up in the hills.  If there were problems calling or using the Internet to get a taxi to come out to our villa to take us into town, well then not such a big deal as it was only about a mile’s walk downhill.  Upon arrival at the train station we naturally had no problem finding a taxi, though he was obviously more accustomed to taking people to hotels–a residential villa caused a bit of confusion, but we got into the area and were able to recognize the villas from having previously studied good ole Google Earth and Google Street View.

After settling into our villas and taking advantage of having a washer and dryer (we were close to the halfway point in our trip and it was time to do laundry), we opted to enjoy the walk downhill into town on a glorious Tuscan afternoon.  Now having been to Florence a few times before there is the definite advantage in knowing your way around and having some experience with the restaurants.  Twice previously we had eaten at a restaurant on the Piazza Signoria called Il David (owing to a single observational mistake one time 8 years ago, we’ve always called it “Lil’ David”).  Being right on the piazza one could easily assume Il David is a tourist trap, and I suppose the Italian cuisine purist would so label the place.  But we love it and have never had a bad meal or experience there.  Our first night in Florence, we went back for another great dining experience, enjoying our meal and freely flowing wine from a prime table on the square at Il David.

Now that evening is when the problem with the villas arose.  Despite being in a busy city, there were no taxis to be found.  Correction, there were plenty of taxis to be found: they were parked all over the place, sans drivers.  After a half hour of walking around and scratching our heads over the inexplicable disappearance of all of Florence’s taxi drivers, we realized what was going on.  The Euro Cup was in full swing and Italy was playing that night.  All of the taxi drivers simply parked their taxis and were watching the game in the closest watering hole.  What we should have done was shrugged it off and parked ourselves in a bar shoulder-to-shoulder with the locals and enjoyed the game, then caught a taxi back up the hill.  But we were tired–and full of wine–so we did what every other tired American would have done at 10pm on a Sunday evening in Florence: we hiked back up the hill, alternatively grumbling and giggling all the way back.

The rest of our visit to Florence was a bit less strenuous and quite memorable.  Each day we attempted to call a taxi and each day were told a taxi wasn’t available (I think they just didn’t want to drive out to the “boonies” of Bellosguardo), but not a problem we just walked down the hill.  The first full day we were there (Monday) we went to the Science Museum (I think it used to be called the Galileo Museum).  For a techy like me, this museum was like heaven, full of the telescopes crafted by Galileo himself, early globes and maps, and early scientific measuring equipment.  We also attempted to procure reservations to the Uffizzi (unsuccessfully), but instead visited the Palazzo Vecchia, including a climb to the top of the tower for a spectacular view of the city (much better than from the Duomo’s dome or bell tower because you could see the Duomo itself from a better perspective).  We skipped the Academia, having seen it before, and owing to consistently long lines to get into Il Duomo (and having seen it multiple times) we skipped the Duomo also.  Instead we did a lot of walking around, lapping up gelato, visited some of the lesser-known churches, and did some (surprisingly fun) shopping at the market and on the Ponte Vecchia (I will proudly show off my Florentine bracelet to anyone who asks, and Lori stocked up on gifts for family back home: leather purses).

We capped our last night in Florence with a return to Il David and another wonderful meal with an abundance of wine, accompanied by a youth choir performing in the Piazza.  I have decided that Florence is one of those cities that you return to, not because there are things you haven’t yet seen (we still have not been in the Uffizzi, for example), but you return to Florence because of the things you have seen before…and need to see again.

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