Wednesday, February 3, 2010

And so it begins

To tell the complete tale of how we got to this point would be an ambitious attempt at crude storytelling.  To picture myself eating breakfast in Connecticut when I awoke this morning takes within my act of imaging a great deal of mental strain.  I feel as though I ate this "breakfast" meal somewhere between my high school graduation and the Australian Olympics, though in reality it has probably been just a scant day or so ago in real time.  Needless to say, when we arrived at the bustling Rome airport this morning, the night was very old yet the day quite young.

Our flight was a calm, simple jaunt overseas, but my eating habits had taken a turn towards the peculiar.  I had eaten 4 sandwiches by noon of my Italian day:  the focaccia cheese sandwich on rosemary at 5:30am on our transatlantic, a genoa salami on baguette around 8am, a prosciutto and cheese on poppy croissant at 11am, and lastly, a mozzarella and fresh tomato on a challah type roll before taking a nap at noon.  It is no wonder that with this intense regimen, a nap was in order.  No man should ever have to subject himself to that much chewing without appropriate sleep.  After arriving in Florence, Kristin began making stereotypical Italian food requests.  Spaghetti she demanded.  She was met with failure, and worse, a cold pizza settlement that smelled more like cigarettes than tomato sauce.  Around this point in the day, I consumed sandwiches 3 and 4.

We slept until about 3:30.  Kristin was slow to rise, so I got up to roam the streets until dusk.  I did so very poorly.  Strangely, I saw another person get hit by a car.  This makes it two in three days.  I returned to our hotel, San Gallo Palace Hotel, which is located just outside of the historic center of Florence.  We are located in a very local area, so prices are good and tourists are nonexistent.  Kristin and I prefer this arrangement for a number of reasons.  First, when you stay outside of the bustling tourist center, you are not subjected to the tourist price.  Also, you are able to see people living their customary lives.  It is more enlightening than staying in the tourist section, where offerings are taken down to a bland compromise between the authentic and the convenient.  Of course, the downside, in this case especially, is that I went out with my camera expecting to photograph sweeping renaissance skylines and crumbling history, all I got was apartment buildings and commuters.

When I returned to Kristin, she was dressed and ready to go.  Where you ask?  The Duomo?  A Basilica of some kind?  Maybe the Boboli gardens that the Medici built?  Nope.  She demanded we find the local gym.  We had our concierge arrange a free week pass to a gym.  We walked about 15 minutes and finally found this very swank and crowded gym.  The equipment was all brand new, and some of the machines, like the treadmill were even designed by Pininfarina, which was totally awesome looking compared to the garbage aesthete that I am accustomed to at LA fitness.   The gym was full of Italians obviously, but we were taken aback by the complete lack of meatheads.  Not a single one.  No balding monsters grunting and groaning like Mordor Orcs.  It was a very pleasant workout except for a very odd interruption.  I was using an inclined bench and a young Italian man intervened to give me a stern talking to in Italian.  At first, I had no idea what I had done, but then I slowly started to piece together his message.  He was criticizing my poor weight lifting form, something about my back not being straight enough.  Kristin's gym experience was very enjoyable, though she said the women's locker rooms was among the nuder that she had ever experienced.

So we worked out where the locals work out, and then we decided to eat where the locals eat.  On our way back from the gym, we noticed a very crowded restaurant with huge slabs of meat hanging from the ceiling.  Kristin suggested that we eat there, since it looked very busy and was probably therefore good. We returned to our hotel, changed, and set back for this very special restaurant, Perseus.  I had died and gone to bread heaven.  Loafs, slices, circular pieces, unbelievably fresh olive oil, and balsamic.  You have probably never heard of legendary Bistecca.  I am about to hammer this name into your brains.  It is a type of steak, made from a very special breed of cow.  It is a very Florentine food, and is essentially a T-bone steak, about 3 or 4 inches thick, bloody rare, and crusty on the outside with seasonings and olive oil.  Kristin and I split one of these, all three lbs of it.  It was by far, like really really far, the best steak of my life.  And while I am at it, I also consumed the best salad of my life at this meal.  It was so fresh, that it was if if the damn thing had grown directly out of my plate.  The tomatoes were so fresh and delicious, Kristin was eating whole tomatoes, and she hate tomatoes.  This was the best meal of my life, and Kristin felt the same way.  I am prone to exaggeration, and I have no shortage of "bests" for no shortage of categories, but this one was for real.  The service was also ridiculously perfect, and they even slipped us all sorts of free stuff.  I felt perfectly at home, and we were the only native english speakers in the building.
Kristin finishing packing in CT

Bo, a very lively character

Walking around the square immediately surrounding our hotel

A random street

Rush Hour?  We are staying outside the historic center of Florence 

Tell me those Bistecca cuts do not look delicious 

Looking for interesting things to photograph and trying to acclimate to 
the time change

Hope she is okay, saw this lady get hit

Some Graffiti 

Cemetery at dusk

An open door on a quiet side street

Night traffic

Piazza della Liberta, across from our hotel

Entrance to our hotel

The restaurant that we ate at, Perseus, had fresh offering everywhere

Preparing a dessert

Vegetable garden that comes gratis at beginning of meal with breads

some bruschetta

Peppers and onion

Kristin eating a grapefruit

After putting back a few lbs of meat

Some really hot fresh crusty bread

our unbelievably fresh salad

Cutting our Bistecca

This guy was the best

2 servers enjoying serving

The size of the steak was about 3 or 4 inches thick and 4 cuts.  The outside was burnt to a crisp,
inside was red and perfect


Noods in restroom

Bistecca and Peppers


Sweet wine

Biscotti and sweet wine - unbelievable 

Reting my large nog on my hands, that red thing is my wallet

One last shot of Perseus


  1. Digging the pics! The colors are incredibly vibrant. Awesome job

  2. Amazing photos, Justin. The colors are so vivid and it seems as though I am there with you!! The food looked awesome--as though I could just take a bite with you! Miss you and Kristin!

  3. The pictured r so vibrant, where did u jack that camera Justin?...

  4. Good bokeh in your pictures, makes everything look pretty cool.