Bonjourno Italiano!!!

While leaving the South of France was sad, very, very sad… we were heading to Florence and then Rome, so that made it a little less tragic!!From Nice to Florence then Florence to Rome the drive by bus was about six hours each leg, however; we broke the trips up into several smaller legs.  We left Nice and headed out to a warehouse outside of Assisi that sold all kinds of ceramics, olive oils and wine! It was a tourist’s dream stop! I picked up lots of olive oil, a bottle of what the salesman said was red wine, for the strong man, and a beautiful ceramic spoon holder for the oven that is done in bright yellows and blues.  Oh, and I bought several packages of chocolate to bring home to share… or to eat, non-stop for the remainder of the bus ride. One of those last statements is true…. We left the warehouse and traveled up to the small, unbelievably cute town of Assisi where we toured around for lunch and then went on a tour with our own personal Monk around the Cathedral of St. Francis.  This was probably my favorite tour in Italy because our Monk was so down to earth and enlightening about the past of St. Francis and the details of how the Cathedral was built and the times when their brotherhood believed in self-punishment for basically enjoying life that I was completely enthralled the entire tour. I think that everyone was sad to leave the beautiful Assisi, but again, one more leg and we were staring at the leaning tower of Pisa!  This was another brief stop that included my first true Italian pizza of this trip and then lots of pictures like below. Hey! What can I say, it’s just fun to take these pictures!!!That evening we settled into our hotel room about 30 minutes outside of Florence in a small resort town called Montecatini.  This is where the real fun began!  This hotel was super nice, and modern… so modern that McKenzy and I could not for the life of us figure out how to keep the lights on.  We finally got our key to open the door to our room and we got in, I was in the bathroom when all the sudden the lights went out and it was PITCH black in the room. Stunned that McKenzy would just turn the lights out on me, I asked and she said she didn’t, but she would turn them back on… cue thirty seconds later…PITCH BLACK! All over our room. . . I fumble over, we are now dying laughing and turn them back on… repeat above about three times, until I decide to just leave the key in the slot so that I don’t have to look for it each time the lights go out (you have to but the key in the wall slot to turn the lights on)— it seems like that may have dawned on us to try sooner… but eh?! We were tired and HUNGRY!  I am glad we figured it out because our Rome hotel had the same situation and we were ready!!!I skipped the night out that night and opted for an early bed time with the sounds of Jersey Shore, Italy as my background.  The next morning we were up early and heading into Florence for a day of museums, art, SHOPPING, and then our cooking school dinner!!!!I HEART Florence. So much, I just love everything about this area, the heart of the city on the river is completely pedestrian friendly, the shopping is ah-mazing, and the GELATO, oh my goodness, the GELATO.  These Italians are pretty much ranked number one in my book just because of their gelato.We toured the Academy that morning and saw THE David, all of him, and well… he is quite impressive. I have to say, if you have only toured and seen David as an adult, you should go back and watch a group of 35 high school girls meet David for the first time.  Our tour guide was super serious, and very straight forward talking about all the ummmm parts of David and the girls were just looking from person to person trying not to blush while he was pointing out one rather prominent feature… his hands. No really, I am not joking, but we all thought he was going somewhere else on that tangent. Yes, I am sixteen and was laughing this entire time!Following the experience of David our tour guide took us to see every other naked man in Florence and spent a good twenty minutes trying to engage us to guess different myths, stories, etc.. .about each man… I am not sure the awkwardness ever went away as he used his pointer to point out their pointers. Hahahahaha!  Or their penne (shout out to Amanda from our trip)!

 When we were F-I-N-A-L-L-Y released from the lover of naked statues, we went to a leather shop where they taught us about the different leathers of Italy, Mom walked out with a gorgeous Kalinda-esc leather coat and I walked out with a belt for the Mr. (hey! We are on a budget) 🙂 Then we ate… then we shopped!!!!  We shopped the streets of Florence for approximately 4.5 glorious hours only stopping to enjoy gelato and the occasional espresso.  I think everyone came out a winner on this excursion and the kids managed to shop not only at H & M but also local shops!!!  

 By the time our shopping time was up, we started the trek over to the Florence School of Cooking. I think this was a favorite part of the trip for the whole group.  We were all given aprons then tasked to handle some portion of the meal for the whole group.  Mom, McKenzy, Amy and I were all in the dinner portion kitchen working on our different roles.  Amy had to wash and prep the salad… McKenzy had to dice onions, Mom had to open two cans of tomatoes… yeah, she got off easy, and me?! I had to grate an entire block of parmesan cheese on the SMALLEST cheese grater I have ever seen in my entire life. It took me the entire time to get this done, and even then I was a little stingy with my servings to the class!!!  This was by far my favorite meal! We had freshly made pasta with a tomato basil sauce, a meatloaf (didn’t eat this), salad and a delicious lemon cake!!!!! After dinner we caught the bus and headed back to the hotel to sleep then up early and off to Rome!!!

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