Friday, May 13, 2011

Italian Getaway - Day 1 (part 1)

D.Rough and I didn’t actually tell anyone we were going to go to Italy. Well, technically, we told our mothers, but less than 2 or 3 other people each. We kept it on the downlow pretty well, frankly. In fact, I had lunch with TheDoctor the day before and didn’t say anything about it. I also worked a half day at work the day we left, just to keep the illusion alive.
We got all liquored up at the airport bar first (well not ALL liquored up, since the girly drinks there are $12 each!!!)

We flew out of Minneapolis in the afternoon. Here are the details on the plane ride – always eventful for us. We got served a decent-tasting dinner: a chicken breast with vegetables and what D.Rough and I argued over whether it was mashed potatoes or stuffing. We never came to a conclusion on that.
Then there was an announcement that any available medical professionals on board were to come back to our area of the plane. Apparently some lady on the plane couldn’t speak English and was having to have someone translate her pain symptoms to doctors. We couldn’t hear details other than she was at a pain level of 4 out of 10 and we saw her asleep and laid out in a row of seats later in the flight. We’re assuming she made it to at least Amsterdam alive.

We got to Amsterdam the next morning for our layover. We grabbed a sugared donut, an almond cookie, and a coffee (for D.Rough) and we were back on a plane for Florence, Italy. The public transportation at the Florence airport isn’t the most obvious for non-Italian speakers. We got a bit confused where to catch the bus to the central train station, and eventually had to ask at an information desk. Sadly my phone wasn’t working, as promised by Verizon and Blackberry, so we were without easy communication devices. Even then, it wasn’t clear when we went out to where the taxis and buses were lined up. D.Rough got sick of waiting since we had been traveling for quite some time and just made the executive decision to get on a random bus, pay the driver 8 euros, and sit down to wait and see where he took us. Thankfully, he took us to the correct train station.

Once there, we could figure out which direction to walk to get to our hotel. Google Maps told us it was approximately 15-17 minute walk from the train station to our hotel. And it was pretty accurate. D.Rough printed out the walking directions and I navigated the winding streets and alleys, past the Faragammo Museum (I will explain that later), and directly to our hotel.
Our hotel was about two blocks from just about everything we intended to do – it’s right off the Ponte Vecchio, so it’s perfect! The Hotel La Scaletta is up a few flights in a building which also houses a Coach (purses and leather items) office and some apartments. We piled ourselves and our one bag each into the elevator. I mean PACKED. This is a one-person elevator. 2 persons (without bags), Max. Every time we’d both ride that elevator, one of us would have to back in or out and we always got stuck in the door when it closed. Yikes.

Hotel La Scaletta was a really nice hotel. It has a nice internet terminal for its guests – you know, in case you need to send a nasty email to Verizon about your phone not working – a beautiful veranda with a “panoramic view” (and bar), and really nice rooms. You do have to leave your key with the receptionist when you go out though – a little weird, but we managed and didn’t have any problems returning to our room at night.

For those that don’t know, the reason we went to Florence was because D.Rough found a ring she fell in love with. I should write it in all caps, so you know what we’re talking about – a RING. She thought I was joking when I said we should go look at it before I send a random antique jeweler in Italy a bunch of money and hope we get something better than a gumball machine ring. So that’s why we were here. We had them hold it for a week or two while we made travel arrangements and got to Florence. Well, here we were…

We had walked past the antique jewelry shop ON the Ponte Vecchio on our way to the hotel, but we tried to pretend we weren’t excited. (We were.)(And terrified.)
We left our hotel and walked the two blocks to Bernardo Antichita and met our man, Guido – that’s really his name. He’s who I had been emailing with about the ring for a few weeks. I’ll skim the details for brevity. We loved the ring, but we wanted to make sure we were getting the right one. We told Guido we’d be back the next day after we did some other looking. I mean, the Ponte Vecchio is an entire bridge in the Middle of Florence and it is filled with insane amounts of real, fake, vintage, antique, custom jewelry and watches. D.Rough and I wanted to compare the ring she found to some other things Florence had to offer. So we did some shopping. Quite a bit of shopping, in fact. Actually, we found another ring that we liked almost as much, but it was also quite a bit more - like, add a zero to the price (and I don't mean to the front of the number). But very nice. Very. Nice.


carrie said...

Wooooooah! This is exciting. Congrats! (I assume)

Jen said...

what a wonderful trip! looking forward to reading more!

Lindsay said...

Longtime reader, first time commenter. Even though I'm from Cincinnati, you are my favorite food blog!

Many congrats! This post was kind of a surprise but may I just commend you on your awesome boyfriend skillz!

Chao said...

Thank you, ladies! I'll keep up the updates (as long as blogspot stays up), over the next week. And then likely more when I get back from China!

And thanks for the kudos, Lindsay. I try to do my part in making the rest of my male friends look bad. hahahaha