After recovering from a busy morning, we decided to head on out to do some exploring and last minute shopping.
First stop, Santa Maria Novella Church.
This church stands just a short walk away from the busiest parts of the city; but it seemed quite relaxed, except for all the hawkers. Construction of the began in 1279 and was completed around 1357. The upper part of the façade was completed around 1470 by Alberti. We were actually going to another destination (more on that later), but decided to stop in here. After all, it was covered by the Firenze Card.
We also went to check out the Cloisters.
After leaving the church, we went around the corner and down the street to a shop that was once run by the Domincan Monks of Santa Maria Novella, the Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy (Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella). It is one of the oldest pharmacies in the world having been established sometime in the 13th century.
It doesn't look like much from the outside, but is quite huge....and busy. The Missus, who loves shopping was overwhelmed with what to get from the huge lists of products.
Walking around I noticed what looked like to be the old entrance from the Cloisters.
As much as the Missus likes to shop, She is easily overwhelmed. Indeed, when in places like cosmetic shops in Japan, the Missus will often send me photos of the make-up items She needs and I'll go find them by matching the photos and designs on the boxes and containers. After about twenty minutes in here, the Missus was fried.
I had noticed a little Tea Room off to the side of all the crowds.
I suggested getting a nice cup of tea before heading off. Which sounded like a good idea to the Missus.
But it was a nice break in the action.
Walking back through the store, I found something that I thought the Missus should purchase. "Acqua di Santa Maria Novella" is said to be the remedy for hysteria and the accompanying indigestion. The Missus wasn't amused.
There was one more place I wanted to visit in Florence. So we decided to head off before dinner, to find a pig. A pig? I always have some oddball items I want to see when travelling and Atlas Obscura has only fed into that desire. Earlier in the day I got to check out Galileo's middle finger, now I was after a bronze pig named Il Porcellino. It took some effort to find Mr Piggy since it's in the area of a large outdoor market. Some nice folks in a nearby restaurant helped us out when I pointed to their little brass pig in the window and asked directions.
So, the drill goes that you place a coin in the mouth of the boar and let it drop. Should it go to though the grates you are destined to have good luck. You then rub the snout, which has been polished smooth from all the folks rubbing it. This ensures you'll return to Florence someday. The coin thing is not as easy as you think. The poor Japanese fellow in front of me tried three times and it never went in. I got it on the first try!
Take that, Mr Piggy!
We decided to do something fun for dinner on this evening and headed off in the direction of Basilica de San Lorenzo.
These duo, playing in front of Monumento a Giovanni delle Bande Nere were really good so we stopped and listened to a couple of songs.
I'd read that the second floor of the Mercato Centrale housed a food court food stands that were pretty good an a lot of fun. It was fairly busy when we arrived, but I had a plan in mind.
The first stand we headed to was......
In case you don't know; tartufo means "truffle".
We ordered the Tagliolino al Tartufo Nero. I was told that these Tartufo Nero were the last of the season (it was the end of March)......it sounded like fun, so why not.
So while the Missus waited for our pasta, I went to the wine shop in the corner of the food stands. Man, the folks here were so nice....I believe the name of the shop is Enoteca Chianti Classico and it was the best glass we had in Florence, the temp was perfect, nice acid....unfortunately it was from Alsace!
Man, that was a pile of truffle on the pasta. The fragrance of the truffle was amazing, though the flavor was quite mild. There was a bit too much sauce for our taste, but the pasta was cooked perfectly. Not bad for 20 Euros. Yes, fresh pasta with truffle in a food court from a food stand.
While we were eating, we saw this huge young man....swear to god he looked like a sumo wrestler. Turns out he was Korean. He cracked us up when he looked at what folks were eating a loudly exclaimed "Paaaa-AAAstaaAAA"! He said this with such sincere joy that you couldn't help but laugh. Oh, and he did get his two plates of pasta!
Next up? After returning our wine glasses we headed to this stand near the other end of the collection of food stands.
Where I saw this sign.......
Really. Florence's ultimate street food made from the abomasum, the "fourth stomach" of the cow with truffle?
Don't mind if I do.
The fragrance of the truffle cut through some of the funky smell of the lampredotto, but didn't interfere with the gamy-offal flavor. I thought the bread was pretty good; light and yeasty. The guy also put some of the mildly spicy salsa verde on this was well. The texture was a bit tougher than versions I had in other dishes during our visit, but this wasn't bad.
The Missus also wanted the Trippa alla Fiorentina as well.
Which arrived just as the Missus got back with our next glass of wine. A nice, light Chianti. She told me the guy working the wine counter was so nice as She asked about the various wine. When She picked one out he told Her, "good, very good, you on vacation, there's no time for bad wine!" You gotta love it.
This tripe was a bit tougher than other versions, but had no off flavors, and was quite tasty overall and for 5 Euros.....
While the Missus went for dessert, I dropped off our wine glass, something I guess others don't do? I got a very nice smile and a thank you from all three folks behind the counter of the wine bar.
I then headed straight for the central bar and got the Missus an espresso and me......well, I thought a Negroni would be a nice way to end the evening.
By now, the place was getting quite busy.
So it was time to stop taking up seats and head on back to the apartment. We really had a fun time at Mercato Centrale.
Mercato Centrale Firenze
Piazza del Mercato Centrale 4
Upstairs Hours Vary from 10am - Midnight
We got back to the apartment, had the last glass of wine and went off into dreamland.
Our wonderful host, Matteo was nice enough to arrange for a taxi to the rental car stand for us. He told us, it was the best way to get there. We had gotten up fairly early and packed, our cab wasn't due until 955. Since the Baptistrey opened at 830 and was essentially right down the street we decided to head on over.
Plus, the Missus wanted to see what was behind those bronze doors.
The most striking site was the mosaic on the ceiling.
Which of the Last Judgement.
As we waited for our taxi, we watched daily life in Florence go by......
Lots of tourists yes; but daily life goes on for all the residents.
You know, we ran out of time and didn't even make it into the Duomo. So maybe Il Porcellini is right. I'm going to have to return.
Well, we were off to get our rental car.....
Next up. It's off to Parma. But first, a stop for lunch!
Thanks for stopping by!