Balsamic is a reserve currency right?

Catching up a bit – a late dinner last night meant I didn’t get a blog post up.

Yesterday was a day of milling about and exploring further. Most importantly, this meant a trip to the Mercato Centrale, wherein I buy far too much balsamic and giggle the whole time. We also loaded up on picnic supplies. The most interesting purchase was a tub of very ripe baby strawberries. I don’t really know how these come to exist – they’re almost liquid and collapse when you grab them. An interesting experience, though I’m more than happy with the normal sized strawberries from a few provinces south.


After dropping off our purchases, we set out for Stefan. Stefan is a home goods store – think of a small and very crappy version of Walmart. It’s a chain, which has been in dire financial straits since 2012 and just (as in, last week) was dissolved and transferred to a variety of owners. The ambience of the store, never particularly great, reflects said situation. Tablecloths were purchased though, so mother will be happy. If I had to bet, I would say this will be the last round of Stefan tablecloths…

A picnic lunch back at home, then a trip to Santa Croce. Kat had never been, and I generally think it’s an under-appreciated site.


A quick visit to the duomo museum – under serious construction at the moment, and mostly off limits – brought us to the Biblioteca Della Oblate, a library near the duomo. Our AirBnB host tipped us off to the fact that there’s a cafe on the top floor with great views of the duomo. And indeed there was. A good “insider tip,” as we never would have found the library (or persevered through the very confusing signage to find our way to the top) otherwise.

We made the most of a soggy day in Florence. If the internet is to be trusted, it should be the last of our totally rainy days during the visit. So for now, we’re off in search of more gelato.

Rock may be dead, but rocks are cool

On my last visit, I went to La Specola, the taxidermy museum. La Specola is run by the University of Firenze, and they run a few other museums as well. Today, we ticked some off the list – the Geological and Paleontological museum, the Mineralogy museum, and their botanical gardens. These were new to me, and new to Kat.


These museums very much reflect their University parent. They’re a bit low rent – nothing showy, nothing in English – but with a solid scientific core, and some very cool (presumably student-created) dioramas and diagrams. There was a degree of genuine playfulness that I appreciated.

The mineralogy museum had a particularly impressive collection, reflective of a long history. When you’re around to get the rocks and gems the Medici don’t want, you end up with some pretty nice specimens.

Next up, we hit the Archaeological Museum. This museum has gotten a major makeover in recent years, and is well worth a visit. It also continues to have unfathomable opening and closing policies. They tried to kick us out, explaining that they were closing – we said “bbbbut archaeology!” and suddenly they weren’t closing anymore. Again, the ability to steal things from Egypt during the 15th century really gives Italy a leg up over museums in the States…


Full of science and history, we set out for the Church of Santa Maria Novella. Important news! There are now a whole bunch of food stalls in front of the church. They sell many delicious things.

As fine as the Church is, the real action is at the perfumery – one of the classier stores I’ve ever been in. Perhaps a little too classy for some kids from Minnesota…


That’s more or less our been our Sunday. Now it’s time to cook some dinner and head to an organ recital. So yeah, a pretty good week.

So, how was your weekend?

A long, but thankfully uneventful travel day brought us to Florence mid-afternoon on Saturday. A short taxi ride got us to our AirBnB and our host, Marilena. I’ll do a full tour of our apartment in another post – it’s frighteningly charming. I hadn’t realized, but it’s literally a block from the somewhat-sketchy hotel I stayed in in 2012.

After a quick rest and a shower, we went out for a jetlag-fighting stroll. The first stop was All’Antico Vinaio for some so-delicious-we-didn’t-stop-for-photos tapas.

From there, we went (via gelato) to San Miniato. After all, it was nearly sunset! Kat hadn’t been up there before, and it’s the perfect place to get a view of the city. We didn’t make it in time for vespers, but I don’t suppose it’s the end of the world.

San Minato Panorama

After a quick stroll around the church, we took a seat. I then – very awkwardly – asked Kat if perhaps she would like to marry me. Turns out, she does! Thereafter, there was much calling of parents and giggling …


So, that was Saturday. Kind of sets a high bar for Sunday…

Once more unto the breach

Shakespeare was talking about gelato right?

I don’t think there’s a way to say “heading back to Florence, again” without a fairly high degree of implicit pretentiousness. But hey, it’s me, so there’s always a fairly high degree of implicit pretentiousness, right?

Regardless, we depart for Italy later today. Yes, we – I’m not traveling solo this time, but instead am joined by the rather delightful Kat. I’m very excited to get to experience my favorite city with my favorite person.

There’ll be more to come once we’re in Italy. For now, here’s the travel schedule. Presuming the plane doesn’t end up on a secret government island full of zombies of course.

For those needing to reach me, email is best (as per always), but my normal US phone number should ring through and receive texts just fine.

Delta Air Lines Flight 171 MSP – CDG Departs Minneapolis, Friday, April 25 5:10 PM Arrives Paris, Saturday, April 26 Scheduled 8:35 AM

Air France Flight 8607 CDG – FLR Departs Paris, Saturday, April 26 1:20 PM Arrives Florence, Saturday, April 26 3:10 PM

Monday, May 5 KLM Royal Dutch Airlines 1642 Departs 12:35 pm Florence Arrives 2:50 pm Amsterdam

Monday, May 5 Delta 9374 Operated by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Departs 5:00 pm Amsterdam Arrives 8:20 pm Atlanta, Georgia

Monday, May 5 Delta 300 Departs 10:00 pm Atlanta, Georgia Arrives 11:35 pm Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota