We started the trip off with a walking tour of the city. Even though it was freezing cold and everyone was tired since we had been up since 6 am, I still really enjoyed it. I had already been to Florence a few times when I was younger, but it was nice to see places like the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, and Santa Maria Novella with more of an appreciation.
|Santa Maria Del Fiore Church|
|Fountain of Neptune|
By lunchtime my roommates and I were all so cold and hungry all we wanted to do was find a warm place to sit and rest for a little. I knew immediately that I wanted a warm, heaping bowl of soup with a nice big slice of bread. We found a cute restaurant called Caffe Donnini in Piazza Repubblica. I was ecstatic when I saw that there was a Tuscan White Bean Soup with Pancetta on the menu. Two of my roommates went with Pasta Alfredo (you can't find it anywhere because its not a real Italian dish) while the rest of us went with soup. One of my roommates, Becca, ordered an authentic Florentine soup called Ribolla which is bread, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and broth. What got us the most was when we took our first bite of bread only to realize that the Florentines don't put salt in their dough! By the end of the trip the bread grew on me a little, but I still like Roman bread better.
|Tuscan White Bean Soup with Pancetta|
What sealed my love affair with Florence was the Artisan Chocolate Festival that was in town this particular weekend. Every year in the winter Tuscan chocolate artisans come to Florence to sell their creations to the masses who flock to the town for this amazing festival. There were so many free samples it was hard to make a decision on what to buy. I ended up getting two quarter pound sheets of chocolate bark (Banana Milk Chocolate and Hazelnut Milk Chocolate) and, because it was so cold, a Cioccolata Calda con Baileys (Hot Chocolate with Baileys). I don't think I stopped smiling for the rest of the day.
|Cioccolata Calda con Baileys|
We ended the day with a cooking class at In Tavola. I was so excited for this because I have yet to experience a real Italian cooking class! (even though I'm doing one again this week). We made a four course dinner of Tomato and Eggplant Caprese, Fettuccine Pomodoro, Gnocchi Bolognese, and Tiramisu. The hardest part of the whole class was making the pasta, its really time consuming and its easy to mess it up in the machine, but in the end it was so worth the trouble; it was absolutely delicious. I was a little disappointed with the gnocchi though, I usually love gnocchi but these didn't taste as good as they do in Rome (sorry Florence). And the Tiramisu was amazing as usual. My roommates and I had a blast making our own dinner, and we were pretty impressed that it came out so well.
|Eggplant and Tomato Caprese|
I had an amazing first day in Florence, more to come on Day 2 later !