Steph and I took the tube to Victoria and the the Gatwick Express to Gatwick Wednesday evening. We caught the plane to Florence, which left on time, then a quick cab ride to downtown Florence by midnight. It was about six hours of travel total, with almost 2 hours at the airport in a pretty nice lounge. Our AirBnB in Florence was right by the Ponte Vecchio, on the city side of the river. The wifi was down at the AirBnB and the thick stone building blocked cell signal, so it was an interesting week. Especially since I was still working Thursday and Friday evenings.

Thursday morning we went to the Uffizi Gallery. It was huge and had so many amazing works by well known artists. Steph and I got really tired of all the baby Jesus, but the rest of it was really amazing. I especially enjoyed the ceilings in the main hallway on the top floor. They seemed to be a feature many people just glanced at as they walked by, but each panel was unique and referenced a lot of the art in the galleries. I had my meetings along the river next to the Ponte Vecchio, which was really nice.

Friday we had a full day. Early in the morning we climbed up the Duomo and got a view from the roof, as well as from high up inside the dome. It was amazing, and the most definite must do thing while in Florence. We then stopped by the Academy to see the David, and made our way across the Rive to the Pitti Palace. The Palace was just as large as the Uffizi, but the names weren’t quite as impressive. The art there would still have been the prize of any US museum. The tables were especially amazing with the intricate stone inlays. We took a walk through the gardens behind the palace as well, which were extensive and well kept. We found all sorts of mushrooms in the gardens, including lions mane, chanterelles, coral mushrooms, and turkey tails. That evening we went to one of the places we saw on the Stanley Tucci series on Italy for it’s wine window. The window was so cute, and we met some Australians there, who we might show around London if they come in Feb.

Saturday we left the city and went to the Tuscan countryside, specifically in the Chianti region. We were there for the truffle hunting with three adorable dogs, but there was so much more. Walking through the countryside during the truffle hunt was so nice, and then we had the wine and olive oil from the property as well. They make their own truffle oil, which we bought. During the walk we (the dogs) managed to find twenty or so decently sized black truffles, with one tiny white truffle. I was amazed at how well they did. The people that we walked around with were also amazing. We got to hear about the architecture from a professor who comes to Florence each year for several weeks to teach a class on architecture. So amazing, and we have a great list if we are to ever go back to Florence. We also chatted with a Canadian investment banker turned ice cream maker, and someone who works for the same company as me. They served us an amazing multi-course meal and let us shave as much of the truffle onto our food as we wanted. When we got back to the AirBnB I accidentally locked us out, and Steph spent the next hour messaging people to get us back in. I know I should never keep the keys for an automatically locking door, that is one of the reasons I installed keypad entry on our house in Redwood City. We still managed to have a nice dinner, then called it a little early.

Sunday we went on a wine tour of the Chianti region which was nice, although the truffle experience the previous day made it a little paler in comparison. We still had a great time, and some really good food and wine. The people were also self selecting for the alcohol instead of the truffles. We still got to see some really pretty estates.

Monday morning we got up at 4:30 to catch the plane back to the UK, and I made it to work by 9:30.