Dear Pistachio Gelato, I miss you.
Sometimes it feels wrong to be posting about Florence without simultaneously talking about gelato. Gelato was an integral part of my Italian experience, as most days involved frozen delightfulness in one form or another. My plan for the future is to remember posts such as this one recounting gelato highlights whenever I find myself journeying back to Florence and its sentient statues. If you also do this, then none of us will ever forget that Florence can, for all its varied cultural and historical hotspots and adventures, be evoked simply by the sensation of sweetness melting on the lips.
I feel better about posting ice-cream-less glimpses of Italy now, because I know that you’re all imagining liquorice gelato and meringue semifreddo at this precise moment. Right? Right?
Once upon a time, I climbed to the top of Giotto’s Campanile, the tower adjacent to the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. Wikipedia says there are 414 steps involved in such a feat, but I’m certain there were 782 steps. It just. kept. going.
In addition, the staircase was not only unending (hyperbole alert) but incredibly narrow, which meant that there was much pressing close to strangers in the manner of Sardines (the children’s game*, not the omega-3-rich fish).
Once atop the Campanile, there was a lot of Florence to look at. These are the types of photos that are usually interesting only to the person who took them, aren’t they? I do apologise. But you see, there really were a lot of stairs, so I had to take enough photos to justify the entry price and my new-found calves of steel.
Oh no! Wilbur! Where’s the eight-legged friend who’ll save your bacon?! (Actually, perhaps the part of Charlotte’s Web most appropriate for a gelato-fuelled Florence trip is Templeton’s fairground song: “The faaaaair is a veeeeritable smorgasboard, orgasbord, orgasbord, aaaaafter the crowds have ceased... Melon rinds and bits of hot dogs, cookie crumbs and rotten cotton candy, melted ice cream, mustard drippings, mouldy goodies everywhere...” Except without the mould.
Rice *and* rice? Oh Florence, do stop! You’re spoiling me so. (I was almost going to proclaim these vegan, but alas! They contain eggs. Definitely dairy-free and gluten-free, though.)
There is something a bit odd about walking down a street and suddenly passing an entirely empty (read: unstaffed as well as un-customered) restaurant with nothing to spruik it except a huge slab of fresh meat on a wooden crate.
But there is something utterly irresistible about an open jar of Crema Novi, the chocolate hazelnut spread that is to Nutella what sun-ripened cherry tomatoes fresh off the bush are to mealy supermarket tomatoes fresh out of cold storage. I wish this grew on trees.
* Dear me, I haven’t thought about that game in years and years. Super fun times indeed. For those of you who don’t know it, Sardines is a reverse hide-and-seek. One person is “it” and has to hide while everyone else looks for him/her. As people find the hiding person, they have to cram into the hiding space too, until it becomes pretty darn obvious where the hiding space is**.
** I don’t think this game would work very well in my new Tiny Unit Of Smurf Kitchen. Someone would hide in the shower, then someone would hide in my wardrobe, and then we’d be out of options.