Florence, Italy 10, 11 November, 2011

Firenze is wow!  We've played here before but never stayed, always leaving straight after the show, usually back to our Rome base.  

We arrived very early on the morning of the 10th and had that day off.  The Four Seasons hotel here is on the largest plot of privately owned land in Firenze (Florence) and is a monument to everything Italian, frescoed walls, marble and stone archways, cavernous lounges, polished marble floors and much more.  The outdoor gardens and walking pathways inviting and meticulously cared for, they occupy acres of land, the size of a park and boasts a beautiful outdoor Italian swimming pool and jacuzzi.  The gym is in it's own separate Italian stuccoed building, three stories with a cathedral ceiling with everything anyone could want for a great workout.  The service, the rooms and everything else about this hotel is top drawer... easily the best hotel of the tour.

After a late start and a visit to the fab gym, I stepped out of this walled enclave and took to the tiny, narrow streets.  I forgot about the thousands of scooters the Italians use to get around but soon became accustomed to them again as I made my way.  As I'd not had anything to eat since last night's bus ride, the first order of business was food.  The hardest decision is which cafe to fall into.  Hundreds of them as well as ristoranti, trattorias and tabac shops that serve snacks and espresso.  I opted for the first one I found, Michelangelo Cafe, had a ham and cheese baguette and two espresso, all delicious for a staggering sum of three and a half euro!  It was now late afternoon and the sun was going down, the day had been bright and 70 something degrees but was beginning to cool.  I came to a piazza with make shift stalls selling everything from old kitchen ware and books to used clothing, sort of a flea market.  Had a wander through and came across a stall selling records.  An incredible assortment of old jazz albums and 78s.  I could have spent a thousand there easily but opted for just a few great records for the princely sum of 15 euro.  I headed back to the hotel where we met in the lobby and went to a fabulous restaurant on the Arno river... Cammillo Trattoria.  Perfect, simple and staggeringly delicious.  I ordered a small pasta, tomato sauce with chilli starter and veal parmesan, the finest I've ever had. Several bottles of a soft Chianti accompanied our dinner.  If ever in Firenze, go to Cammillo located at Borgo S. Jacopo, 57 r.  

The morning of the 11th I got up and out again.  Having missed my original destination yesterday, I made my way to the Piazza del Duomo, the location of Cattedral di Santa Maria del Fiore.  I won't attempt to describe the size and opulence of this cathedral, only to say that I was overwhelmed.  I walked inside and sat quietly for a half hour and though there was the constant traffic of hundreds coming and going, the cathedral was so massive it hardly seemed anyone was there at all.  From there I stopped at an outdoor cafe for margarita pizza and draft Perroni bier followed by a couple of espresso, then back to the hotel to get ready for tonight's show.

A stand up gig at the Nelson Mandella Forum.  8,000+ fans crammed the floor shoulder to shoulder and gave us a thunderous welcome and response after each song.  A great gig then back to the sumptuous Four Seasons and a couple of night caps down in the lounge.

It has been a couple of days of luxury to the max, feeling very grateful and lucky enough to be along for the ride.  I hope to come back to Firenze and really explore it.  Tomorrow we train to Rome for a show.

So long,

Richard