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A Night at the Opera

June 17, 2010

Last night was, quite simply, a night fit for a prostitute.  Ryan met me in our hotel room and presented me with a diamond necklace.  Awestruck, I reached in to touch the diamonds and he snapped the lid of the jewelry box and I laughed and laughed.  Then, he whisked me away to the opera.

Okay, so only that last part is true.  Sigh.  No diamond necklace.  Guess I don’t turn enough tricks.

But—we did go to the opera!

But, backing up, there was a lot of fun to be had before the opera as well.  Yesterday morning, we headed to Florence’s central market first thing, eager to explore.  We’ve gone to a lot of different markets on our trip, and we were both talking about how distinct each one has been.  Every market had its own specific goods and a unique vibe.  The Florence central market was definitely selling more specialty and “foodie” goods…everything from 200 euro balsamic vinegar (!) to truffle salt to fresh tripe.  We had a great time exploring all the stalls and picking up a few prizes to take home.

Here are some central market highlights:

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From there, we headed to the Boboli gardens which were beautiful and, surprisingly, almost empty! It was raining off and on yesterday, so I guess that was deterring people from an outdoor activity.  Fine with us…we practically had the entire gardens to ourselves!  Not only was it fun, but it will serve as good practice for when we own our own Italian villa.  Right Ryan?

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After a bit more walking around, we picked up some lunch:

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…and did a little more sight-seeing:

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And then we headed back to the hotel to rest up, because we had a big night ahead of us! 

A few days ago, we found a flyer for Italian opera in a local church.  It wasn’t an entire opera, but rather a “greatest hits” of arias from La Boheme, Madame Butterfly, Tosca, and many others.  We’ve never been to an opera, but we figured—why not?  We’re in Italy…might as well see some opera!

Before the opera, we headed out for our last supper in Florence at Osteria del Porcellino.  This restaurant is relatively close to the Uffitzi, and we’d passed it several times during our time in Florence, always noting how great the food looked.  We decided that we’d give it a go.

I’m glad we did, because this meal was SO good!

We started off with a bottle of chianti:

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and then shared an order of panzanella, a Tuscan bread salad.  Our waiter tried to deter us from the panzanella—I guess in the past, Americans have ordered it and gotten something different from what they were expecting?  I told Ryan, our waiter must not have known the frequency with which I watch Everyday Italian, because I knew what to expect, and it was exactly what I wanted!  We insisted that we still wanted it, and I’m glad we did:

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It was delicious!  And, I might add, exactly what we expected!

For his entree, Ryan ordered a cow:

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Okay, it might not have been the WHOLE cow…but it came pretty close!  This is a traditional Florentine dish—Bistecca Florentina.  It’s basically a huge T-bone steak that has been seared on a grill for about five minutes and then served very rare with a generous drizzle of olive oil overtop.  Not my cup of tea, but Ryan seemed to really enjoy it.  Although I think he really only ordered it in the hopes that I would call him T-bone for the rest of the night.

As for my own entree, I went slightly lighter: gnocchi with pesto and pistachios:

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Okay, so there isn’t actually anything light about that dish.  But it was damn tasty.

After our lovely meal, we headed out to find the church where the opera singing was going to take place.

When we found the church, we were pleasantly surprised—it was very small!  The church had a piano at the front, and about thirty folding chairs set up in front of the piano—it was a very intimate setting!

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Right at 9:15, the opera singer and the accompanying pianist emerged.  It was actually a very simple affair—the male would announce the aria, and the female would sing.  Then, they’d move on to the next song.  They took a few breaks in between songs—I’m guessing her voice needed a rest!  She was hitting some REALLY high notes! 

I liked it that they chose the “greatest hits” from several operas, because you could enjoy the music without trying to follow a storyline or figure out exactly what was happening.

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At one point, the singer came out into the audience and used the male audience members as props in her aria about unrequited love:

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….including Ryan!! Haha…he turned about twenty shades of red!  Too funny.

All in all, it was a really great night—the perfect end to our Italian vacation!

No, wait…this was the perfect end:

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Oh gelato.  I wish I could quit you. 

We’re packing up and heading to Venice today—our flight leaves tomorrow around 11:00.  Not sure when my next post will be, but it probably won’t include gelato. Sigh. Boo to going back to the real world.

See you in America!  

37 Comments leave one →
  1. ginger permalink
    June 17, 2010 11:42 am

    What a wonderful last night to a fabulous trip! Safe travels!

  2. June 17, 2010 2:06 pm

    So cool! But now all I want is gelato and a t-bone

  3. June 17, 2010 2:06 pm

    I love Pretty Woman…. Absolutely gorgeous pictures. I’m so glad you’ve had such a fantastic vacation and have taken the time to blog the journey!

  4. Madeline - Greens and Jeans permalink
    June 17, 2010 2:40 pm

    I have loved reading all about your trip (and drooling over your food!). Have you ever Read Bel Canto? Hearing about your opera adventure made me think of that.

  5. thehungryscholar permalink
    June 17, 2010 2:41 pm

    I love these pictures of your trip and especially the one of a blushing Ryan. Safe travels!

  6. June 17, 2010 2:42 pm

    The landscape photos are seriously amazing. And man, what I wouldn’t do for that gnocchi! Yum. You totally had me going with the diamond necklace bit, lol. Did you know that (apparently) that part of the movie was unscripted (the snapping part, at least)? I am glad they kept it in 🙂

  7. June 17, 2010 2:43 pm

    Awww!! That sounds like an amazing night!! Ryan looks so embarrassed in that picture haha!
    Have a safe trip home!

  8. June 17, 2010 2:46 pm

    What a fabulous night! What is it with opera singers always being so large!!??
    Have a safe trip back 🙂

    • June 17, 2010 5:06 pm

      Lol…I was wondering the same thing! I’m sure there’s some reason…larger lung capacity, maybe?

  9. June 17, 2010 3:03 pm

    Oh no, our time in Italy is over! What a beautiful end to your trip! Have a safe flight home!

  10. June 17, 2010 5:15 pm

    What an incredible night and delicious food! That gnocchi looks soooo tasty!

  11. June 17, 2010 5:19 pm

    Just wow on the market pics and eats. The opera looks like a blast, I’d love to see one. Can’t wait to see more from Venice.

  12. June 17, 2010 7:02 pm

    I love all of your wonderful pictures…I can’t wait until I can visit Italy. One of these days!!!

    There is no reason to quit gelato…none at all. 🙂

    Have a safe trip home!

  13. June 17, 2010 7:06 pm

    how incredible! and that gnocchi made my mouth water soooo much. jealous!

  14. June 17, 2010 7:32 pm

    Oh my goodness, was that asparagus – so so long.

    I’ve never been to Italy but have really enjoyed aspects of it through your photographs. Thank you sincerely.

  15. June 17, 2010 7:51 pm

    wow!! your pictures are absolutely breathtaking!!!!!!!!

  16. June 17, 2010 8:58 pm

    That is a perfect night, everything that is great about Italy in one – good food, good wine, opera and ice cream. The singer looks great, how funny that she acosted Ryan! I hope you have enjoyed your European trip, it certainly looks like you have. Thanks for blogging about it whilst you were away.

  17. June 17, 2010 9:05 pm

    WOW! An opera in Italy was probably FABULOUS!!! I loved living your vacation through you! Thanks for sharing, Anna! Be safe coming home! 🙂

  18. June 17, 2010 9:41 pm

    I am lost for words – your photos are so stunning!!!!! Have fun in Venice – it is wonderful!!!!!

  19. June 17, 2010 11:07 pm

    You need to frame some of these pictures. They are so gorgeous.

  20. June 18, 2010 12:50 am

    I’m drooling at that cheese . . .

  21. June 18, 2010 4:22 am

    Gorgeous photos – what an amazing trip!

  22. June 18, 2010 4:33 am

    this has been a trip of a lifetime…omg for me at least 🙂 i can only imagine how much fun and how many memories you and ryan have had! so happy for you two!

    the comment you left me about unschooling, just wanted to sincerely thank you b/c as a teacher i know that many teachers get upset when people who arent “trained” as teachers want to teach their own kids. I had a commenter read me the riot act that I never mentioned. But anyway, thank you for supporting me and my choices. It means a whole lot 🙂

    And also for realizing that playing outside with skylar is more important than blogging. I read your comment this morning and it made me smile.

    So you brightened my day twice in less than 24 hrs w/ each of your comments!

  23. June 18, 2010 10:03 am

    Aw what a nice ending to a great vacation!

  24. June 18, 2010 11:41 am

    I just showed my Europe-loving mom all your pictures and she couldn’t stop ooh ing and ahhing…what a gorgeous end to your trip, I’ve loved every post!

  25. June 18, 2010 7:26 pm

    I am loving your blog! I’m a pretty new reader 🙂 I feel as if I’m vacationing right along with you! Have a safe trip home 🙂


  26. June 19, 2010 6:03 am

    wow, this post is filled with so much beauty! Looks like a wonderful time and of course gelato makes my world go round…that looks PERFECT! Have safe travels, Nora

  27. June 19, 2010 11:02 am

    Amazing pictures.
    I’ve never been to the opera, but always wanted to go. I’ve had many nights fit for a prostitute though.

  28. Kristi permalink
    June 19, 2010 12:36 pm

    My favorite is the “Brack Pepper” sign. Glad you’ve had a safe and enjoyable trip!

  29. actorsdiet permalink
    June 19, 2010 4:24 pm

    i love opera! my mom sang at the metropolitan opera house for 35 years and i have such fond memories.

  30. June 19, 2010 6:03 pm

    I LOVE these travel pictures! I’ve always wanted to go to Florence and these pictures pretty much cemented that. I wish I were travelling instead of sitting at work on a Saturday 🙂

  31. June 20, 2010 12:15 pm

    ohhhhh so jealous!! Those pictures are amazing, just amazing. I have to get a new camera before we do any traveling overseas, I feel like I am THERE!
    And, I say eat gelato EVERYDAY! YOu’ll never get it here, so take advantage 🙂

    Nice that Ryan doesn’t mind the opera, or at least will go with you. I’m wondering if Nick would?? haha, probably not!!

  32. healthulous permalink
    June 20, 2010 2:22 pm

    Hey, Anna! I’m an unlurking blog reader (and new blogger!) Your pictures look beautiful, this looks like you really had an amazing time! 🙂

  33. June 21, 2010 1:59 pm

    BEAUTIFUL pictures!!! And the food.. oh YUM!! I feel you on the gelato! Ice cream was EVERYWHERE in Ireland and it was so. good.


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