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Florence, Italy: Dave and I left hot and sweaty Rome for pretty dang warm and breezy Florence this afternoon. We took a taxi to Rome Termini (even though it is within walking distance, but the wheel on my case is severely delaminating and it feels like I am dragging a ton of rocks in my little 21-inch carry-on... can you believe I am on this trip with only a little teeny suitcase? Such a smart traveler!) and boarded for the 100-minute ride north to Florence. We had business-class reservations and were seated across from each other with a little table between us. The views of the countryside were beautiful at 160mph - acres and acres of sunflowers and we also saw several RV parks! (The largest RV we saw was about 24-feet long.)

We both just love Florence and feel it is one of Italy's greatest and most romantic cities. We also find the restaurants are some of the best in the country. Florence is so compact, it will be difficult to get my 10,000 step minimum, but the art and the restaurants in this city make it a must-see for anyone visiting Italy.

We checked into our hotel and headed out for lunch - it was 2p and we were starving. Florence, though a tourist town to be sure, closes up mid-afternoon and only the most touristy restaurants remain open between lunch and dinner, so we settled for a place on the Piazza d. Repubblica (with a carousel) for our usual pizza & caprese luncheon.

DT at lunch in Florence

Caprese Salad - it is on every menu in Italy

Cheese pizza

After lunch, we had a long stroll around town to see if all our favorite places were still there/had not changed.

Nothing had changed in the Piazza d. Signoria.

The "fake" Statue of David is still there. The "real" statue used to be here,
but is now safe from the elements in a museum a few blocks away.

Il David Ristorante is still here. You can
choose to think the restaurant is named
after a certain nearby statue, but I know better.

The view from our hotel room

After a very long nap, we again hit the streets and found ourselves at the very new and hip and popular Obika Mozzarella Bar - yep, a restaurant devoted to fresh mozzarella. (Though Obika sounds Japanese, it means Here It Is in the Italian dialect around Naples.) With outlets all over the world (even in Los Angeles) this restaurant makes their cheese on-site and offers fresh mozzarella in four varieties - plus a full menu of Italian foods and pizza.

Top: We tried the Volturno (classic, with a strong taste) and the Affumicata (naturally smoked) mozzarella with three dipping sauces - basil pesto, olive tapenade and sundried tomato tapenade. Bottom: We shared a salad of greens, caper berries, sundried tomatoes, black olives and tuna - and Trofie pasta with green beans and potatoes and pesto. (All Obika photos were taken with my iPhone.)

The restaurant is very modern and sits in a pretty open-air building. We sat at a massive communal table - and we were the only foreigners at the table. Such a fun night and we returned to our hotel to see Ducks on the cover of the International Herald Tribune:

So happy for this lovely couple!

Pedometer: Oh, oh! Travel days don't count, right? 9,064 steps.

Until my next update, I remain, your cheesy correspondent.

About our hotel in Florence