“What did you like best about Italy so far,” I asked as we boarded the bus back to the hotel.
“Florence,” said my nine-year-old son, Aren, without hesitating.
“Why?” I wondered. “What about the Tuscan countryside? Orvieto? Rome? What made you pick Florence?”
“The gelato!” he said.
Our guides had pointed us to a small place a block away from the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower called Grom, where we’d received our ice cream fix, despite it being an unseasonably cool late summer day.
It was good. Really good.
It’s kind of funny how that goes. You take the kids all the way to Hawaii and what to they remember? Shave ice. You ski in Vail and all they can talk about is the crêperie where they annihilated sugary desserts after a day on the slopes.
I would like to say that Florence was not Rome, and that the farther north you go, the more organized things get. Not really. The birthplace of the Renaissance had the same long lines of American, German and Japanese tourists winding around the block at the Accademia Gallery, waiting to see Michelangelo’s David.
Outside the museums, in the narrow squares, the picture was much the same: too many tourists vying for the perfect shot of their girlfriend standing in front of the Fountain of Neptune.
As a bonus, there were fewer motorcycles. However, the pedestrian zones weren’t exclusively for us — we shared them with much larger but disturbingly quiet electric buses. Fortunately, no one in our group was hit.
The saving grace was that Florence was presented by Adventures by Disney, so everything from the tour local guide to the museum tickets to lunch was arranged by Signore Mickey. They seem to know exactly when everyone (especially the kids) have reached their limit and are ready to rest or have a snack. Or call it a day.
I’ll never forget Florence. Especially that cup of pistachio and peach gelato from Grom.