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A day of food and fashion

posted Apr 5, 2013, 4:43 PM by Jen Hayes
With time only for a quick breakfast before making our way to Prato, somehow we all stumbled into the restaurant with plenty of time for our pastries and coffee - much needed after our late concert night in Pistoia.

The textile museum in Prato was enthralling. The city is known for its textile manufacture and we got to see centuries-old dresses, vestments  and swatch books alongside modern fashions, including a dress worn by Liza Minnelli. The museum also featured a hands-on exhibit on the various materials, dyes, and production processes used today and through the ages. Particularly fascinating were examples of fabrics made from such non-traditional materials as crab shells, plastic bottles, and even milk proteins!

And with that perfect segue, we finished our tour and made our way to Scandicci, just outside of Florence, for a delicious introduction to the Slow Food movement at the Castello dell’Acciaiolo. We wandered the beautiful park for a bit as lunch was being prepared, enjoying the sunny day as much as the lizards basking on the walls and the dogs playing in the field (or lying on their backs waiting for a tummy rub, like one particularly adorable basset hound).

But soon our lovely host Francesca called us over and we sat down for an amazing meal showcasing locally grown and raised vegetables, meats, cheeses, and wines while Francesca explained the main tenets of Slow Food: that it’s good, that it’s clean, and that it’s fair. Her enthusiasm was contagious as she told us about previous slow food gatherings, her history with the group, and even a few of her favorite spots in Florence as the meal wound down and we began planning the rest of our afternoon. The only problem is there are too many great things to see!

As close as we were to Florence, we hopped on the Tramvia, the Florentine light rail system new since our last trip, for an easy ride into town. Having successfully not made any decision on a particular activity or destination - we’re an awfully easy-going bunch - William took us on a quick tour of the city and pointed out the Ponte Vecchio, a couple of his favorite tucked away churches, the Piazza della Repubblica, and the Piazza della Signoria. At this point about half of us stepped into the new Gucci Museum to continue our day of fashion by admiring gowns worn by the stars at recent awards ceremonies, while others grabbed a
drink, did some exploring of their own, or brought the fashion world a little closer to home with some shopping of their own (Jen finished her quest for boots). With a little more space in our bellies after our stroll through Florence, we made our way to Perche No, a gelateria recommended by Francesca and the Slow Food movement. Delizioso! Finally, we stopped at the Duomo and Baptistery to admire the beautiful architecture and Ghiberti’s doors, and continued on our way to the San Lorenzo street market where scarves and belts were our group’s choice purchases.

We arrived for dinner at Il Porco Spino - The Porcupine - where a friend of a friend of the group’s is head chef. Even after our amazing lunch and gelato pit stop, we couldn’t help but try - and try and try - the delicious dishes that came out of the kitchen. Bruschetta, fried artichokes, calamari, pesto gnocchi, pasta in a wild boar sauce, and ravioli in truffle sauce... and somehow we still had room for cheesecake, tiramisu, and a touch of limoncello for dessert. I’m not sure we’ve ever been happier to have our vans pull up so close to the restaurant to whisk us away to our beds after a day full of such wonderful experiences and much delicious food.