We are both tired and looking forward to a day of just aimless wandering. We slept late and skipped breakfast at La Scaletta; while it is a good value, I am tired of eating exactly the same thing every day, with scrambled eggs I cannot eat taunting me from the chafing dish. (This is one dish that Florentines do not improve. To be fair, I don't eat scrambled eggs in restaurants at home either, because I'm damned picky about how long they should be cooked and the ideal texture.) So, we had breakfast at a pasticcheria behind Palazzo Vechhio; I should have checked the receipts for the name, but I've now misplaced them. There was a special with scrambled eggs, tomatoes, toast, marmalade, orange juice, and coffee for 10 Euros—while some of it was the same as that available at La Scaletta, I was looking forward to breakfast that was food made to order. I should have known better, as the scrambled eggs were—odd by my standards, as though they began to fry the eggs and after the white had set, then scrambled them in the pan. But at least they weren't wildly overcooked and had been made fresh for us. Everything else was quite good, including the coffee. We had more coffee and a brioche to finish.
Then we wandered off toward Piazza dell' Santissima Annunziata, to check out the nearby farmacia. On the way, we stopped in at a paper shop with a family tree in the window; we bought a tree (and on a stop back in after the trip to the farmacia, a pen) for Bill, and a handmade blank book of Florentine paper for Pam. The young woman minding the shop was Japanese, from Yokohama, so Shawn was able to practice his go, and find that he still has it, some 30 years on.
The farmacia, unsurprisingly, was closed, but there were lovely things in the window, so we will try again tomorrow. That is part of the story of Italy; often, you will find that things are closed when you try to visit, but if you have patience and time, you may want to try again later.
Next, we checked out the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, which had just closed for the day when we stopped; we'd both like to see it, though, as it includes models of many of the machines used to build the dome, as well as pieces originally housed in the Duomo. We will try again tomorrow for it as well.
I decided that as I had not seen any affordable jewelry I wanted, Shawn could buy me some Italian cashmere as an birthday/anniversary present. We went to Cashmeritaly, a store whose wares I had been admiring through the window as we walked along Borgo San Jacopo. I settled on a lovely cape that is a light lilac-blue on one side and a deep blue on the other. Very warm--too warm for the nearly 80 degree day, but it will be lovely to have back home.
Then we popped back to Gabriella's shop to get money clips for Jon and Shawn; we were able to confirm that Texas and Tennessee (our nicknames for some of the couples from the tour, as we did not remember everyone's names) had made purchases, for which we are glad.
Next we dropped off our purchases at La Scaletta and popped up for a drink on the terrace. Silvia warned us, as Larissa had already done, that there was a benefit dinner at the restaurant that evening; we were welcome to come up for a drink and make a donation if we wished, but have a drink in any event.
We hung out in the room for a bit, reading and relaxing, until it was time to wander over to il Santo Bevitore. It is made to look rustic inside, with big, rough wooden tables, much larger than those in most restaurants here, and built-in benches lining the walls. There are cheeses and artisal meats on display. All of the wait staff are young and hip and could have been transplanted from Brooklyn to Florence. Very good jazz playing when we arrived. One odd experience was when a waiter slammed into the table, jamming it into me, and then just looked at me. After my irritation passed, I realized that he was probably more concerned about having blown his cool image than about whether he had hurt me; he certainly made no effort to apologize. But the food was very good. Shawn had some delicious ribollita with tomato, and I started with a salad that was huge and fresh. We both had pasta (handmade) with 'nduja, which we had been told at da Ginone was vegetarian, though I later read that it is a spreadable sausage from Calabria; small quantities are added to tomato sauce used for pasta. We are hoping that it was vegetarian, simply made to resemble the sausage, which has lots of red pepper in it. It came smothered in pecorino and was very spicy and good--and did not taste of pork. Had a wonderful super Tuscan, Numero Otto, 2008--learned a bit from Adrienne about how to pick wines, it seems. We finished with delicious desserts and amari--chocolate mouse with rice gelato and hazelnuts for me, accompanied by a spicy and accessible amaro (I'd never seen it before--riserva something?), creme brulee and pistacchio rum raisin gelato for Shawn, with a miele (honey) amaro that was sweet and had the loveliest smell ever. So, all in all, a very good dinner--and the line outside the restaurant when we left was very long, so it is clearly a popular place. Cristina says that she rides by it every night on her way home, and there are lines outside even after midnight.
At La Scaletta, the party was in full sway when we returned; we sat up a bit reading--well, I did, but Shawn passed out pretty early on--his turn to be completely wiped out.