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Monday Part One: Fun in Firenze

PHOTO: Selfie in the Medici Palace (c) Sery Kim

Yesterday was an absolutely ideal Monday in Firenze. Though I didn't sleep at all -- jet lag has been hitting me harder and harder as I get older -- I woke up to a gorgeous morning. Sunshine without a storm cloud in the sky and an ideal temperature. The St. Regis Butler service brings you complementary cappuccinos in the morning so I took advantage of this rather than do the enormous buffet breakfast -- I've only had breakfast once the entire five days I have been in Italy thus far because we do such late dinners.

PHOTO: St. Regis cappuccino on my balcony suite overlooking the Arno River (c) Sery Kim

While I have always been a latte person, the cappuccinos at the St. Regis Florence are delicious. I opened both my balcony shutter doors and again listened to the sound of the Arno River breaking over the fall while doing my morning quiet time. Such a good way to relax and center myself after a busy Sunday in Firenze.

PHOTO: Inner courtyard of the Palazzo Vecchio (c) Sery Kim

I headed out just after 10:00 am for a leisurely day of wandering. Since I didn't realize the national museums in Firenze don't open on Monday, I was pretty screwed as a tourist to get to the most famous places in Firenze (Uffizi Gallery and Academia where the David is). I attempted to buy a ticket into the Uffizi for Tuesday morning at 8:30 am but it was sold out. Even buying the Firenze pass for 72 euros, which means you get unlimited access to all the museums for 72 hours, didn't quite make-up for the fact that I would have to blow through one of the best museums in Europe in 60 minutes. Ah well. I will save them for when I come back.

Other than the museums, the former homes of famous Florentines are open and an alternative for the ill-prepared such as myself. The Palazzo Vecchio is one such home and I had already walked by it four times in the 24 hours I had been in Firenze. I wasn't until I stopped yesterday I realized it was an actual home because it is positively gargantuan. Also, it really never ceases to amaze me how these homes were built in the 12th, 13th and 14th century. I mean seriously!?! HOW DID THEY BUILD THEM??

PHOTO: Exterior views of the Palazzo Vecchio (c) Sery Kim

It's not free to go inside the home so I didn't pay the 18 euro to do it. It was a deliberate choice on my part to just explore the parts of the city which are free since my story for ABC WJLA is on "budget friendly" travel. Still, it is probably worthwhile (if you have the foresight to plan to get into the Uffizi and Academia) to buy the Firenze Pass which will let you into everything.

PHOTO: Truffle Spaghetti at ZEB Gastronomia (c) Sery Kim

I made a few more pitstops at places such as the Palazzo di Medici, surprisingly much smaller than the Palazzo Vecchio when you consider the storied history behind the Medici family, before I walked to the other side of the Ponte Vecchio for lunch at Zeb Gastronomia.

Recommended by a friend of mine who used to work at Conde Nast Traveler, Zeb Gastronomia is a tiny restaurant open just for lunch. They don't give you a menu. Instead the chef works the two counters, divided in the center by a walking/preparation area, as well as the four seats on the side facing the street. He greets you and asks you what you would like. No wine menu either. Just a conversation with the chef about choices and desires. I actually rather enjoyed this engaging experience because sometimes I am so focused on reading that I forget to actually think about where I am at and what I am eating.

PHOTO: Receipt (c) Sery Kim

In addition to recommending the restaurant, my friend also recommended some dishes. He said the truffle spaghetti was really good so I ordered it. I was shocked when I saw my receipt and it was only 14 euro for the dish -- again since there is no menu you neither know immediately what is served or what the price is. I also got a nice chardonnay blend for 6 euro. Fab. Great deal for lunch!

More on Monday later! Gotta get to the airport for my flight home to D.C.!

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