Arrived at noon, found our hotel without too much hassle—only one wrong turn, which isn't bad at all and parked in the garage around the corner from the Hotel Cellai,which cost €23 for 24 hours and €2.50 for each hour thereafter. The hotel's room is small, but adequate, though the shower leaves something to be desired. They recommended Trattoria Zanobi for lunch, which was around the corner and not frequented by tourists. Just good homemade food and a nice pleasant place. We shared a Cabrese salad, then Matthew had pesto pasta and I had risotto with zucchini.
After lunch, we went to the Duomo Museum since all other except the Accademia closed at 1:30 for the day. The Accademia had long lines and we didn't have a reservation, which we found online for €39, so skipped. The museum we did visit had mostly sculptures and the best was eavesdropping on a professor who was lecturing about some of the larger pieces. I asked one of the students later, and she said they're from Boston College on a semester abroad. Not a bad life for a college kid. He was a good teacher and didn't even mind when I took his picture with the Donatello work, then voted when he asked their opinion on something.
We walked to San Lorenzo Market and checked out the leather goods—saw a great purse for €75 which was 55 at another shop later.....too much either way. The gloves I bought for about $10 nine years ago are now selling for around €25! The € is ruining everything for both the sellers and the shoppers.
We returned to the hotel in the early evening and asked for a recommendation for dinner from the book we'd bought. They listed several, and the woman at the desk said one was the best she knew of but very expensive. They also have a cafe, so she made reservations for us there. It's an interesting place—they welcomed us, brought champagne (prosecco) and several appetizers that included tomato aspic, tripe, pickled zucchini in little dishes and on small plates for each of us, a piece of bread with chicken liver pate and some warm square of something souffle with Parmesan cheese. Then the owner, we presume, hauls a large chair over and sits at our table to tell us what's on the menu for the first 2 courses. We listened politely having no idea how this works, then he says to choose one from each if we want both courses and repeats them. I ordered polenta, which was rich and creamy with gobs of Parmesan, and Matthew ordered spicy fish soup, which he liked and pretty much guaranteed he'd get to eat without my spoon interrupting his meal. But when we were served this course, Joseph also brought over a bowl of the panzonella – thick tomato bread soup-- for us to also try. Our second course, or was this the 3rd, was a veal and pistachio meatloaf with carmelized red onion and homemade aioli on the side for Matthew and beef carpacc8io with something that looked like green goddess dressing on it along with shredded/sliced arugula and a beets and potato blend in a small bowl on the side for me. Then he also brought another full dish of the seabass carpaccio for us to try. We have no idea why we got 3 servings for each course, but since they were delicious, we didn't complain or even ask. We opted to share the dessert since we'd already pigged out plenty, plus it was €12 for dessert alone, and ordered the lightly coffee flavored mousse with dark chocolate sauce poured over the top. We had discussed the chocolate cake, but I preferred trying this other...so guess what also showed up? That damn cake was so moist and delicious! Nothing like the flourless cakes I've had in the past. The total for the dinner was €124—and would have been more, but they forgot Matthew's wine. It was just the house red, but when the bill came, we noted it was on there and was €14 for one glass, so we did tell Joseph we hadn't gotten it. Of course, we got 3 dishes extra instead, but he was very surprised and apologetic the wine never was served. He was quite impressive—does most of the serving and taking of orders himself, so he's on the move constantly in a full suit and tie and Italian shoes you hear clicking everywhere hurriedly. He's maybe in his 30's or early 40's, very handsome, and when the table next to us asked him to speak in English because they didn't understand Italian, he asked where they were from and then slipped easily into their native Spanish. I asked later how many languages he speaks since he's also spoken French earlier—he speaks 7 languages and also wants to learn Chinese.
We opted to walk back to the hotel after that meal,which was supposed to take about 25 min. We walked pretty steadily and it was a beautiful night, so it probably only took about 20 min. I might have walked off one of the smaller courses. Or maybe not.....