Florence – Day 1

At last, after a two-year delay, we’re off to Italy.

BW and I are so lucky to have our unflappable traveling companions, Jason and Kat, along with our youngest and oldest grandkids. This is Kayla’s high school graduation trip—and she’ll be a junior in collage next fall.

This is a three-week trip (!) so we have a LOT of luggage,

The minute the plane starts down the runway, Griffin’s smile spreads. The boy loves to fly. Kayla and I do not, at all, but seeing the kid’s shining face makes the takeoff easier.

It’s an overnight flight so before too long most of us settle down to get some sleep. Or try. I’m grateful for the solid two hours I went under before turbulence woke me up, and—as always—had me lying there wondering why the hell I was in this tin can bumping along at 50,000 feet.

The light on the horizon. Photo by Kat.

I love my house, my gardens, my dogs. Why wasn’t I home where I belonged?

In the morning as it’s smoothed out and we’re all waking up, I learn Kayla had similar thoughts and issues.

But all’s well that ends well, and we touch down into the Italian sunshine.

We’re early as our flight time moved up, so we wait awhile for our transportation. No problem! We’re on the ground and that’s what counts.

Then they’re loading up the ton of luggage six people need for a three-week trip. It’s awesome.

We weren’t expecting the flat we booked for our initial 10-day stay in Florence to be ready until late afternoon, but the gods looked kindly on us, and it’s ready when we get there.

We have a roomy two-level flat with terrace right in the heart of Florence in what was once a rich family’s kind of palace. It’s gorgeous—rebuilt after being bombed in WWII. The wonderful big entrance doors, the stone, the statues and light in the big entrance hall.

One view of the flat. Photo by BW.

We’re four flights up, and the elevator’s narrow. Our lovely hosts, Lucia and Serena, are undaunted by the mountain of luggage. It takes a few trips, then we get a tour of our Florence home. More art! Though the statue of Mao Tse Tung waving from the second floor balcony is a bit baffling to me.

Hello! Photo by Nora.

More light, streaming through windows. A sweet little kitchen, a generous living space, a second hang-out space on the second floor. And everyone gets to choose a bedroom that suits them.

The terrace is just lovely, and my goal is to sit out there drinking a Bellini.

But first, unpack!

Then let’s do what we came for and take a walk around, have some pizza or pasta.

Kat opts to stay back with Griffin, maybe sneak in a nap.

And out we go. We’ve stayed in this area of Florence before, so the feel’s familiar to me. Shops we’ll explore when we’re not so lagged, the piazza that’s only around the corner. The sound of so many languages buzzing around from others who walk. And that light that’s so brilliant and magical.

Wandering. Photo by Kayla

We pick a restaurant, sit outside in that light and air. Like Jason I decide on pizza, will save pasta for later. BW and Kayla do the opposite. I can attest no one made the wrong choice.

Choices, choices. Photo by Kayla.

I order a Pinot Grigio to go with it. Kayla samples a sip—thumbs down for her.  She’s just wrong!

It all feels a little dreamlike—part jet lag, part actually being here after the two-year gap. The food’s wonderful, the wine terrific, the service quick and friendly.

The guys head off, and Kayla and I walk. And isn’t it sweet to share my girl’s first trip to one of my favorite cities in the world?

We look at stalls filled with colorful leather bags, belts, tee-shirts. My head’s not fully in shopping mode yet so it’s fun just to wander and look. The girl does find a tee-shirt, so score one for Italy.

Then? Gelato. Mmmm. We both want mint chocolate chip—a taste we share—get a medium cone. So good, beyond good and into perfect. I plan to repeat perfection in different flavors every day we’re here.

Mint chocolate chip gelato with extras. Photo by Kayla

Back we go. Jason, Kat and Griffin have gone to the nearby market to try to score some Diet Pepsi or Diet Coke for me, and add to our food supply.

I sit down, chat with Kayla and BW. Then lie down on the sofa and conk. Out! A good hour at least before I wake up and find Griffin asleep in his stroller beside me, Jason and Kat on the other couch, BW zonked in bed.

All asleep except for Kayla. Pano by Kayla
Restorative nap. Photo by Kat.

They couldn’t score my usual cold caffeine, so bought some Coke Zero. I will adjust to the taste. They did score peach nectar, so I make myself that Bellini and go out to the terrace.

Just ahhh.

Bells chime the hour, birds wing across the sky, voices float up from the street as I sit under a pergola that must rival heaven in the spring when the wisteria that smothers it’s in bloom. Now I have hydrangeas, white as snow and the oak leaf variety pink-tipped.

We talk dinner, and it’s unanimous we stay in our first night. That sends BW and Jason out for a hunt, something take-out. Kayla and I just want a salad anyway.

They bring back enough to satisfy. Kayla manages a few bites before she calls it. The girl’s tired!

Griffin, not so much, and he and I have our first Italian race—or our first several. To add to the fun, there are little steps on our course. JUMP down the step from living room to foyer. Jump up it, down it, up it. Then RUN. Through the living room, into the kitchen, back to the foyer. JUMP!

Then he expands the course to jump the step to the hallway, back to his parents’ room. Where he adds hide and seek. Kat must seek, and when she finds, we must squeal and run.

I worked off that gelato.

Bedtime for Griffin, and I’m not far behind him.

Slept like a rock for a solid eight and woke to sunshine.

I’m going to workout, gear up. I think the Duomo is on the slate for today, and the all important shopping and eating. Add that glass of wine and I expect more perfect for our first full day in Florence.

Right now it’s quiet, and I’m pretending this Coke Zero is Diet Pepsi. I’m pretty good at pretending.

It’s just lovely to be here, and lovelier yet to be here with people I love.


10 thoughts on “Florence – Day 1”

  1. What an amazing flat you’re staying in! All airy and colorful, even while obviously restful – lol. Wishing you a great time.

  2. I missed these travelogues! Probably not as much as you did. It’s always such a joy to see a city through your eyes and pretend for just a moment that I can see it too, before it’s back to the desk and real life. Thank you for sharing this, and I’m so excited to see all the rest of it!!

  3. My senior class trip a million years ago was to Florence. And right above your FB post, another author pal, Lisa Bergren, is at the Duomo celebrating her anniversary. She posted photos, and I had a moment of aging brain-freeze. I don’t remember all those zebra-striped pillars and walls! Kinda wish I could see them in real life – but, flying. Nope. Never doing that again. I can so relate.

  4. I’m so excited to see these posts!!! You are by far my favorite author and I’m grateful for the escapes your stories offer me! I pray your time with family is the best ever.

  5. I have so missed your wonderful sensory travelogues during COVID! Reading your posts is almost like being in Italy too! Thank you for writing these. Hope you continue to have a beautiful adventure!

  6. Just went to Italy (and Florence) for the first time two months ago and having just finished The Villa (for the 2nd time) a few months prior all I could think about was the MCs’ trip to Tuscany while out exploring in Florence’s countryside. Ill have to reread it a third time if I eventually make it to Venice someday.

  7. Glad to see that you made it there safe and sound.
    Can’t believe how Griffin has gotten….can’t wait to see daily updates. Enjoy!!!

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