Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Honeymoon Part 4: Pisa, Lucca and the Jersey Shore?

The day after our cooking class we got a much later start to our day than we had planned. We still went ahead with our trip to Pisa and Lucca...but we were rather rushed in both locations because of it.

We went to Pisa strictly to see the leaning tower...because...that's why you go to Pisa. So we took the requisite "I'm holding up the tower pictures" and went on our merry way.

Then we went to Lucca. Sadly, Lucca was a little disappointingly boring BUT we did have the BEST lunch out of our entire two week stay in Italy!
Amazingly thin, crunchy pizza!
Foccacia...what Lucca is known for!
Very windy atop Tower Guinigi
Walking along the walled path of Lucca

Train Station
That night Chris and I were a little bit cranky and tired after dinner from our long day of traveling. As we headed back to our hotel, I noticed some very bright lights outside the corner of my eye. I turned my head to see a ton of video cameras and lights...and then I saw Pauly D's hair from the Jersey Shore. "OMG Chris!! It's them!!" to preface this story, my dad had emailed an article to me that very morning which mentioned that Snookie and J-Wow had been in a car accident in Florence while they were filming for the next season of the Jersey Shore. Florence isn't that big and we still had 3 more days there, so we were kind of on the look-out for them to begin with. Well, turns out they came right to us! Here the boys were, filming at a restaurant right outside our hotel!
Pauly D, Vinny, Ronnie

For the next hour and a half, we watched them order their food and eat while we basically hung out among the Crew and security guards for the show. They travel with QUITE a pack...altogether there were at least 20 people on crew and security duty while they were filming. We weren't allowed to use any flash, so our pictures came out pretty blurry, but they're still pretty good. Chris talked to an Italian Security Guard for most of the time...we were hoping that if we made friends with him he'd let us take a picture with the guys, but they are under contract while filming not to pose for any photos while on location. Bummer.
The most entertaining part of the meal was when Ronnie kept burping extremely loudly and pretty much had the entire restaurant, staff and their crew laughing so hard because it was completely obnoxious and happened every few minutes.
At one point, two young (drunk) girls from America came up to the crew and immediately started signing waivers so they could be on the show. They wanted to be seated right next to their table...well they took so long talking to the crew and signing their waivers, that the guys started to get up to leave as soon as the girls started to sit down. No bother to them though..they just proceeded to follow them down the street. Well...that didn't go so well for them. The boys told them numerous times to leave them alone and that they were terrible the girls eventually backed off, rambling on about how rude the guys are and that they were never watching the show again. Right.
We witnessed a lot of different things during our time watching them. Some people from Florence came up and had no idea who they were, or what they were filming. I tried explaining it to an older Florentine couple who came up and asked me who they were and I became more and more uncomfortable as I was trying to explain/partly justify them.
"See...they're Italian, and they usually hang out at the Jersey Shore. And...they're obnoxious...but now they're famous, America. They mostly party a lot...and they're filming here now! These are just the boys...the girls are somewhere too, two of them already got in a car accident yesterday..."

They literally were staring at me blankly like..."Is this for real?" They asked me what station this show appeared on. I said "MTV" and she looked at her husband and said "Oh! You like MTV" and he said "Yea...but I only watch the music videos, I usually don't enjoy any of the shows I've seen on their station" so I said " won't like this show either."

They thanked me and went on with their night probably to listen to a live musician on the Ponte Vecchio bridge, as I ashamedly stayed behind to soak in more of the culturally brilliant MTV film crew...I'm not proud...
A few minutes later, some drunk Italian men walked by shouting Italian Curse words and saying things like "Go Back to America!" When a crew member followed them to make sure they were leaving their general vicinity, they threw a glass at him. It was pretty incredible: the general feeling I got from the local Italians there was that they were NOT happy the Jersey Shore was filming in Florence.
At one point, Mike the Situation was smoking a cigarette pretty close to us....he and Chris exchanged a manly head-nod, and that was the extent of our interaction with them.
The two girls on the left are the drunk girls chasing them down the street
We followed them for a few minutes before we realized we were officially stalkers, and decided we should probably go up to bed for the night. Altogether, it was QUITE the successful day!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Honeymoon Part 3: Florence TWO

My favorite day in Florence was the day we took our "Wine and Cook" class with Accidental Tourist. Chris and I, along with 6 other people were picked up at a meeting point in Florence at 9:15am and then driven up the hills of Chianti to a winery.
View from the Winery

Wine Cellar
We got a whole tour of the winery, and were shown how Olive Oil and Wine are made. After that, we had a wine and olive oil tasting!!
We tasted several different wines, ate lots of bread drizzled in olive oil and salt and had a fantastic time mingling, and talking to the others in our group.

After that, it was time for the cooking part of our day! Only one other woman stayed on for the cooking as the others had only signed up for the wine tasting. Our tour guide drove us, and Pat (the sweetest woman EVER) even further up the hill in Chianti to a quaint house with the most spectacular view.

We then proceeded to make homemade pasta from scratch in the cellar of the house. 
Chopping the spinach for our ricotta/spinach ravioli
Pat was just about the sweetest woman I had ever met.
We had a great time with her that afternoon.
Our completed Ravioli!
Now making fettuccine!
Chris taking the ravioli up to the kitchen for cooking!
When we went upstairs, the woman who lived there, Christiana, had made us asparagus frittata, bread salad, and olive tapenade bruschetta! All of which was amaaazing (Except I'm allergic to olives so I didn't have the bruschetta)

Christiana's adorable! Hanging out with her, Pat, and Jesse!
Serving us our homemade fettuccine! she served it with oil,
cherry tomatoes and a bit of chili pepper
 Then she made us dessert of homemade whipping cream with fresh strawberries:

And hand-pressed coffee with whipping cream
 This was the view from where I sat at the table....can it get any better than that?

So relaxed, happy and FULL!

Me, Christiana, and Pat

I couldn't get enough of this view!
I was very sad that our day had come to an end, but before we knew it Jesse told us it was time for him to drive us back down to Florence. I would recommend this tour to anyone going to Florence, it was totally worth it!

Link to Accidental Tourist Website

Friday, June 24, 2011

Honeymoon Part 2: Florence

After 3 full days in Rome, we took a train to Florence on Thursday, May 26th.We stayed at Hotel Rosso 23 in Piazza Santa Maria Novella.

We even had a little balcony!

We saw little tiny cars...
We visited the Ponte Vecchio bridge:

There were locks all over the ponte vecchio. Here's what I found about all the locks we saw everywhere:

"According to local legend in Florence, if you and your lover attach a lock to the gate surrounding the bust of famed goldsmith and sculptor Benvenuto Cellini, and throw the key into the Arno river below, your love will be eternal. No one knows where the practice originated, but now there are several places all over the world where you can find lovers padlocks, including thousands at the Great Wall of China. It is suspected that the tradition in Florence was the brainchild of a locksmith, who had a shop on the Ponte Vecchio, not a bad idea if you think about it. In the past, the bridge was home to butchers and fishmongers, but today the only type of merchants allowed to have shops on the bridge are jewelers and goldsmiths. Much more appropriate for such a romantic setting, don’t you think?"

This was my favorite lock!

Then we went to the Duomo. I took horrible pictures of the Duomo
I lit a candle in the Duomo

We visited the Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens

I had the best cheesecake I've ever had in my life at a place called ZaZa

We saw a bride!

and a Bachelorette!
We drank LOTS of cappuccino

And ate lots of Pizza!

I had another of the greatest desserts I've EVER had in my LIFE. I can't tell if I liked this more or the same as that cheesecake above. 2 Belgium waffles with Vanilla gelato in between. I seriously dream about how good this was...

We watched the sun set over Florence from Piazzale Michaelangelo

This isn't even the half of it for Florence! My favorite day in Florence was our wine tasting and cooking class and my favorite night was...well...the night we saw the Jersey Shore cast filming right outside our hotel room! Stay tuned for much more Florence recaps on Monday!