Saturday, May 10, 2014

Italy 2014: Day 9: Saturday: May 10: Mantova-Florence

Another nice day as we pack up to leave Mantova for Florence.  We have plans to stop for lunch in Marzabotto, a town just south of Bologna, to have lunch with our Swedish friends, Ulf and Elinor, who are also traveling in Italy.  As we start driving south from Bologna, the landscape shifts dramatically and we are suddenly driving though green hills and mountains... a refreshing change from the very green but very flat Po Valley.

We are early for our lunch appointment so we take the time to make a quick visit to the Etruscan Museum up the hill.  It is a pleasant little museum with a nice collection of artifacts from digs in the area and we walk through and, as usual, are impressed with the ingenuity and skills of the Etruscans.  We speed through the exhibits since there are no English translations and we don't have too much time before lunch.


Back in town, we meet our friends at a local trattoria and spend a nice couple of hours catching up and having a pleasant lunch.  

Then we decide to take the back roads from Marzabotto over the mountains to the autostrada and on to Florence. The road is extremely curvy and steep but the landscapes and the views are beautiful.

Our hotel is in the historic center of Florence, a bit north of the Duomo and the outskirts of Florence seem to go on forever.  We do catch a glimpse of a baseball game as we drive by a field, the players all wearing full uniforms.  We make it to the hotel without difficulty and check in.  We have gotten a very elegant large junior suite overlooking the hotel garden...with a few strange design details--like the shower being open to the room (behind a glass door) and two large clear glass panels separating the room from the closet and the shower area.  

I take the car up to the public garage which is located about a 10-15 minute walk from the hotel and then go out for a short exploratory walk. We go to dinner at a local restaurant recommended by the hotel.  The Trattoria Accademia is very crowded and, this being Florence, many are tourists.  The noise level is high, especially for a restaurant in Italy.  Dinner is not a pasta dish (spaghetti alle vongole) is so bland that when I only eat about a third of the plate, the manager notices, asks me what is matter with the dish, apologizes and doesn't charge us for it.  This is not enough to save the meal and we leave quickly and head back to our spiffy hotel room somewhat disgruntled.

Tomorrow we explore Florence.

Jim and Di