Our girls have grown up so much since we moved to London that when we took a recent trip to Florence, Michelangelo’s David was like, “Wow, they’re big in person!” Tell me about it, you giant, beautiful slab of stone. Tell me about it. As they’ve grown, this whole casual travel around Europe thing has gotten easier and more fun. Even so, most of what’s fun is that we’ve abandoned all expectations and learned to show up, take in what we take in, and get out.
Florence was an important — if tricky — place to practice that style of visit. With six bajillion “must-see” museums, you could spend weeks chasing guidebook affirmation. Or you could cross the Arno river to the more relaxed left bank, hike up to the Piazzale Michelangelo for a panoramic city view that also allows for some major run-around time, and settle in at Trattoria La Casalinga with a big, homey plate of spaghetti and totally decent house wine without the tourist prices. Just sayin’, it’s up to you.
Truth be told, we did our share of museum visits in Florence. Maybe more than our share, as evidenced by the girls’ casual observation on day four: “NO MORE MUSEUMS!” Yeah, we’re still tweaking the balance. I don’t know how I can have seen so many Caravaggio paintings and still know virtually nothing about him, but I shouldn’t be surprised. As well-traveled kids, my sister and I had a side business leading Non-Informational Tours. We couldn’t tell you anything you couldn’t have observed on your own, but we were damn fine at walking backwards with a closed Totes umbrella held above our heads. Plus ça change.