Frolicking in Florence

So this last school holiday for the kids provided a chance to explore into Italy a little further than we have to date. Turns out it wasn’t an original idea. I think the whole world was there. All of them signed up for a walking tour which brought them, en-mass, to every single street we attempted to stroll. It was a bit insane. Turns out that rumor that Europe is getting crowded might have some truth to it.

Any future travel plans there? Go at low season. Like November. Trust.

So, Manolo, in keeping with his child-minder role, took the lead on this one. He found some sweet Airbnb’s and took the kids to Rome & Florence for a week. I took 2 days off to join them in Florence as I’d never been there myself.

A very short flight but it felt like a world away. It really is amazing how close everything is here. What is as close as Drumheller or Red Deer (yes, we did vacation in Red Deer and it was AWESOME) back home, now leads us to worlds we dream of. The pinch-me moments still happen all the time. Deep down we’re still some kids from Canada amazed by where we’ve found ourselves.

It’s our goal to fill our cups with as many experiences as possible while we are here. And maybe the odd leather handbag…

Here are the scenes we encountered along the way.

Bless you Swiss Air. Such a civilized way to enjoy a very early morning flight. British Airways could take some lessons…
Reunited at last! Arrived in Florence to join my well-traveled fam.
The cathedrals and museums in this town are around every corner.
Gaining access to the inside of these spaces would have involved an hour or two in line in the roasting sun. No thanks.
Danger! Row upon row of amazing leather bags. It is impossible to not leave with one…or some.
The lack of symmetry of this structure strangely bothered my kids. 
Without a doubt, the most photographed male-part in the world. You could outfit your whole home in David’s parts paraphernalia if you wanted to.
The first of many photographs of flowers. They were so spectacular.
Just a very Italian view.
The boys.
Careful, don’t cut yourself!
Old buildings, balconies and blue skies.
No matter where you are in the world, the Apple Store will always draw them in. For the free wifi, it’s a pretty good draw for all of us.
The choice of pretty patios was endless. Too many to choose.
Porcellino – the famous Florence boar. Gave his snout a rub for the promise of a return to Florence. Only in November…
Our little liar.
Liar number 2 – especially when asked how much candy she’s had today.
One of the lovely squares.
The view from the other direction.
The scale and detail in everything is astounding.
Look Grandma, the National Library. We were thinking of you.
A moment at the river to cool off. It was 28 – too hot for these Canadian kids.
Moments before landing on her backside. This was slippery as heck!
The city from up on a hill.
Checking out the space we explored.
Tools of the craft. Sadly, we did not come away with a new pair of shoes. Not sure how we dropped the ball on that one.
Cool old facades. 
Another pretty space.
This bridge was crazy. Every shop sold jewelry to the hoards and hoards of tourists.
No jewels for these tourists. Just gelato please.
Pretty in pink.
On the bridge – not phased by the jewels.
The view from the bridge.
I can’t own pretty, breakable things. But if I could…
Flowers, doors, oh, and look, there’s a bike too.
And another.
Italian-style hardware shop.
Oh look, another bike. 
Attracting a younger audience, this museum installed a ceiling to floor super-slide. 
Oh the beautiful blue sky. Such a perfect backdrop for these amazing old buildings.
The clip-clop of hooves punctuated every moment. So lovely.
Why have just a chocolate fountain when you could have a chocolate-fountain-wall!
I’m quite convinced that the very best line of business to get into in Europe is as a scaffolding supply company. You’d have work for eternity.
The new trend among Italian women? Pipe smoking. Who’d have thunk…
Did you know that the actual best thing about Florence is a sandwich? Lined up by opening at 10:00 am. Our wait was a little longer because they ran out of the bread and were waiting for the fresh batch from the oven. That’s what’s in the photo.
It is worth going there, even battling the high-season crowds for these sandwiches. Loads of perfectly shaved meat, sauce, cheese, arugula. Perfection.
You know it’s good when the federales stand in line for one too.
It’s no wonder we went back twice – there’s a sandwich named after him! (Just feeding into his belief that he is the zeitgeist of all trends…) Biggest, most fresh and amazing sandwich of your life for only 5 euro. In Switzerland it would be 105.
Lined up around the clock. So popular that they’ve taken over 4 store-fronts all in this block, all next door to each other. Each store is still lined up out the door.
This is not what it looked like inside. This was a different pretty space, whose menu likely had items above 5 euros.
Helena’s dream space – surrounded by her favourite colour.
Bikes are best here parked. Trying to bike among the crowds looked impossible and very, very frustrating. Biking should always make you happy. Florence bikers looked un-happy.
Statues, flags and a symbol that looked like something from a Dan Brown novel.
The fam in Florence.
We lost track of which building was which. They all needed to be photographed.
Florence is host to the oldest botanical garden in the world. If there is a botanical garden in town, you can bet it will be on the itinerary. Manolo is a big fan of the plants.
This one didn’t disappoint.
So pretty.
Lemon trees. “Let’s live somewhere where we can grow our own lemons.”
All botanists need to be fed. Helena’s choice for lunch because of the pretty colour on the wall.
So many pretty spaces.
Unfortunately we found our lunch spot two blocks too soon. Just around the corner was the most amazing mercato. 
The lunch we didn’t have…but the sandwiches look nothing special after All’antico Vinaio.
Such an amazing place.
Even a picture of Mom!
Just like the Eataly in NYC only it’s in…oh wait.
Thankfully we still had room for dessert. Cannoli is always a great choice. Except when it’s not…like when they fill it with GOAT CHEESE!!! For the love of all things sacred and holy, WHY!?!?!?
Another dangerous market full of leather goods.
The kids appreciating the artists’ skills.
The danger of mixing wine and leather markets…
Oh look, more flowers.
Poor Helena melted in the heat. Get that kid a gelato!

The soundtrack of Florence.

Time to say goodbye. 3 days of exploring and we were happy to head to familiar ground again.
A train through the Tuscan countryside bound for Lugano. (via Milan of course.)
Back to Switzerland.
The wisteria blooming at the house is so pretty. The smell of the air in the garden is intoxicating.
Spring flowers everywhere.
The view of the lake.
Mmmmm, squid from the market. D is happy if there’s squid involved.
And surprise auto-shows make him happy too.
Who needs to go look for super-cars when they bring them right to the square?
Dad checking the price of a Maclaren.

And for Helena? A dance troupe. A little weird for us, but we’re pretty un-cultured that way.



Lunching with lambos.

Poor weather is moving in, just in time for me to hop a train back to work. Manolo and the kids will stay of for another week in Lugano, the place that always feels like a home away from home here.

I promise this is the last visual-assault post for a while. No more over-the-top fabulous photos of our adventures. Back to the grind. Back to the ordinary that still feels far-from-ordinary.

Mom and Cathy arrive this week for some adventuring of their own. I really ought to share another post for all their buddies in Canmore who will be curious about their meanderings. OK I lied, more photos to come…


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