On our 4th day in Italy, and our 3rd full day, we woke up, placed our bags outside our hotel room door for the porters to pick up and headed to breakfast one last time in Rome. Then we boarded the bus bound for Florence with a stop in Assisi.
We stopped once along the way to stretch our legs. Look at the posh espresso machines at the rest area!
When we made it to Assisi we walked through the beautiful city to the Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi (St. Francis). We enjoyed the scenery along the way.
Including this gorgeous view of the basilica with olive trees all along the slope.
While in the basilica we learned more about the life of St. Francis. We learned that it was he who created the first Nativity scene. He wanted Christians to remember that Christ was born. We also learned that before St. Francis, Jesus was depicted on the crucifix as happy and smiling. St. Francis believed that seeing Jesus as a God who did not suffer led to many Christians not feeling as close to Jesus and God and thus wanted to remind them that Jesus was born, lived and was crucified as a human. It was all so interesting to learn. Then we were able to go into the crypt where Franciscan monks were chanting. Such a beautiful moment.
Here's a trip regret...why oh why didn't I load up on truffle products?!?! I only just tried truffle oil for the first time in the last couple of months and this gorgeous window display totally grabbed my attention. There we were in the heart of truffle country and I didn't pick anything up...I WILL NEVER MAKE THAT MISTAKE AGAIN!!!
After the basilica we walked around Assisi buying some souvenirs and then grabbing lunch from a little cafe. We had amazing porchetta paninos...wild boar toasted sandwiches. They were so good I forgot to take a photo!!
After lunch we headed back to the bus and finished the drive to Florence. We stopped right outside the city to get some great photos...
And then checked-in at our hotel the Grand Hotel Adriatico.
Little Man had his own room at this hotel which he liked.
I loved the wall coverings and floors. The room was beautiful.
We met up as a group for a quick orientation walk and then we were free to go where we wanted. We had already talked with some other people in our group about a gelato place we wanted to try and two of them had heard about the same place and wanted to go too. So we all started walking towards the gelateria and decided to stop where the menu looked good along the way for dinner.
I ordered the fixed menu which had a Florentine steak and beans for the main course. A very Florence kind of meal. What I wasn't expecting at the end, and originally wasn't interested in because we were heading for gelato, was the biscotti with a little glass of Vin Santo at the end of the meal for dessert. OH MY GOODNESS HOW YUMMY! Changed my life! Vin Santo is a very sweet wine used for Communion in Italy and it's traditional to dip the biscotti into it and eat it that way. SO GOOD!
After dinner we headed to Vivoli, the oldest gelateria in Florence. Now, I need to first tell you that while I like ice cream, I am not someone who eats a lot of it. Really a few times a year and I'm good. So, while I figured I would like the gelato, and definitely wanted to try Vivoli, I didn't get a large cup because I thought I would have a hard time finishing it. That was a big mistake. Vivoli makes their gelato fresh everyday, and while the menu switches up daily there are some flavors I knew they were known for that sounded good to me. So I went with the cream flavor (I saw on a show a man actually drop a tear eating their cream gelato) and rice pudding gelato. Dude...the rice pudding gelato was life-changing. I could have stuck my tongue into the little cup and licked the sides to get every last morsel. I was sad when it was gone because, how do you go on in life knowing you had something that good but you can't get it again because it's like an ocean away....so lame. Little Man had tiramisu and something with chocolate.We all were blown away by the gelato...which is good because it was a hike to get back to the hotel! Super cool news...while I was looking for the link for Vivoli I learned that they have a shop in NYC and a new one in Disney World that just opened it June 2015! Rice pudding gelato is in the States!
Anyhoo...after filling up on Florentine food and gelato we headed back to the hotel and crashed...totally tuckered from the day!