This past Friday, my uncle, Fr. Joe, and I took a day trip to Florence. You know, because I never have class on Fridays, and Florence is only an hour and a half away if you take a fast train (why would I ever return to “normal” school?). It’s always fun to hang out with my uncle because he’s lived in Italy for five years, so he knows all the tricks. Plus, he never fails to tease me about something: forgetting directions, my American accent, falling asleep on the train, misinterpreting art, etc.
This day could have been a huge disaster because it was supposed to rain and because it’s the European labor day (feast of St. Joseph the worker), which means most things are closed. Good thing that I already spent plenty of time in the Uffizi last time I was in Florence because it was completely shut down. My uncle says that in Italy they take their days off pretty seriously…more seriously than they take their work days! Good news, it never rained, and there seemed to be less tourists because of labor day. Yes!
First, my uncle, Fr. Joe, said mass in a small chapel inside Santa Maria Novella. I was the only person in the congregation, and the only prayer book available was in Italian. We made it work. Next, we went to have lunch, and I found out the real reason that Joe wanted to come to Florence. “The whole point was to get Florentine steak.” I wasn’t going to argue with that! It was the most delicious steak I have eaten in my life. It was served rare and juicy. I felt like I ate an entire cow!…In a good way.
After lunch, we got some gelato and walked along the river to the Cathedral then to Santa Croce. We stopped to pray and walked around a little more until we stopped in a cafe for some hot tea. It’s so nice to not have an itinerary and just wander where you wander. We stumbled upon the church of St. Philip Neri where many of his relics are kept. Uncle Joe explained that St. Philip is called the Apostle of Rome because he worked to rebuild the church in Rome. Next, we climbed up the hill to see the beautiful view of Florence. It’s amazing how prominent the Cathedral is among the other tall buildings. You don’t realize how big it is until you see it from above.
Probably my favorite part of the day was when we got dinner. We went to this super quaint sandwich shop. It was so small that two people could barely sit inside! They had meat hanging from the ceiling and huge blocks of cheese behind the counter. The walls were covered with bottles of wine and olive oil. And the food…I couldn’t believe how good it was. My sandwich had wild boar sausage, sheep cheese, and dried tomatoes. Why don’t they have places like this in Rome? That sandwich was incredible. I think my uncle was a little embarrassed that I couldn’t stop saying, “this is so amazing.”
That concludes my Florentine adventures. Thank you for reading!