After our adventure with the Vatican Museum we boarded the bus and drove through the Emilia half of Emilia-Romagna towards Tuscany and Florence.
The Emilia half of Emilia-Romagna is my personal heaven on earth. This is the region that contains:
Parma, as in Prosciutto di Parma.
Reggio, as in Parmigiano Reggiano.
Bologna, as in Bolognese sauce.
Modena, as in Balsamic vinegar of Modena.
Milan, as in Risotto Milanese.
A Barilla Pasta factory.
I went a little crazy just driving through here. Oh, and this is a picture I took of what was on sale at a gas station we stopped at:
PARMA HAMS. I regret not buying one.
Florence was awesome as well. It was a really awesome day. First we got to go to the Vatican Museum, then I got to bask in the fact that I was in food paradise, then we came to Florence which supposedly has the best gelato in Italy. And I can now confirm that it does. Because we had four fantastic gelatos this afternoon. Just to be clear the gelato in Rome was not very good.
The first thing we did in Florence was visit the Piazza della Signoria to see the fake Michaelangelo’s David. Since it was Monday, the Accademia was closed, so we had no chance of seeing the real thing. Apparently the real David was displayed here on the Piazza until someone tried to damage it, at which point it was moved indoors and a copy put in its place. The Uffizi Gallery was also closed. Just means we’ll have to come back to Florence … which is OK by me! Gelato gelato gelato …
Then we headed north toward the Duomo and got our first two flavors of gelato from the renowned GROM gelateria, chocolate hazelnut and pear. I thought both were very good, although the chocolate hazelnut (bacio) could have had a smoother texture. I especially liked the pear flavor but Schmoops had to acquire a taste for it. It was on the expensive side, and the serving was skimpy too. We decided to pick somewhere else for our next gelato. Another over-hyped famous place.
The Duomo’s facade is probably the most beautiful church facade we’ve seen on the trip, but the inside is just barren. All the decorations were moved into the Duomo museum, so that’s where we headed next. Unfortunately the Gates of Heaven were being restored and we didn’t get to see them, but the museum was still very nice. It had some very unique works by Donatello, and a Pieta by Michaelangelo. Back outside, we settled for viewing the Gates of Heaven copies, then made our way south for a stroll along the river. Since we were close to a gelateria recommended by our guidebook, we decided to check it out.
Best decision of the day. Caffe della Carrozze’s gelato. SO GOOOOOOD. I got the yogurt fruitti di bosco again, and it was even better than the one in Venice, and Schmoops got the Raspberry. This gelato was so intense. We spent the entire walk back to Santa Croce (our meeting place for our tour group) doing nothing but talking about how good it was. After that we went back to our hotel with our group and had a pretty good dinner, and the dessert was … gelato. Lemon and strawberry this time, and also pretty good.
Six flavors of gelato in one day is a day well spent.