We went on our first family vacation to Italy last summer with our 8 month old Max, so I started the trip with a pretty limited agenda. Somehow we are lucky enough to have the world’s happiest baby who was completely content that first day being pushed over the bumpy cobblestones in the Florentine streets, observing hustle and bustle of the tourists, vendors and mopeds zipping about the streets, and listening to so many new sounds.
I briefly studied abroad while in law school in Florence, but I had not been back for years. My husband had never been to Florence with me, so not knowing if Max’s demeanor would change (it didn’t), I wanted to take advantage of Max’s generous mood that first day and attempted to hit all of my “must do” items in the city. Anyone who has ever been to Florence knows that is impossible, but I was determined to try.
Late in the afternoon I decided that my husband Matt had to try what has been dubbed by many as the BEST gelato in Florence at Vivoli. Vivoli is pretty close the general area where the Ponte Vecchio is located, and I had vague memories of where to find it, so we wandered the nooks and crannies of the tiny streets behind the Piazza Signorina for a bit for it before I finally pulled out my iPhone to help me find the rest of the way there.
When we finally arrived, I ordered up my layers of limon and fraggola goodness, and I was correct in remembering that the gelato at this place was out of this world! Unfortunately because I got lost and we took forever to get there, Max fell asleep and missed his first authentic Italian gelato experience.
As we wandered back toward the crowds of the Ufizzi gallery down yet another narrow path, I was intent on capturing the light on the buildings with the afternoon sun peeking through just right. A ray of light caught my eye and I noticed a small dove on one street sign and what appeared to be an elephant on the other. I thought they were so unique and snapped a quick shot before running to catch up with my husband who was graciously pushing our baby over yet another bumpy cobblestone street.
Because I take what seems like a million photos a day, and in fact took well over 2000 photos during that trip, sometimes they get lost in the shuffle. Last night I was showing my trip photos (yes, all 2000 of them) to my mom and I came across that photo of the signs. I couldn’t believe I had forgotten about it and immediately grabbed it to share on Instagram last night. I tried doing a quick internet search for things like “dove art street sign”, but nothing popped up so I uploaded my photo anyway and went to bed.
I woke up this morning to see that someone recognized this street art and tagged the artist, Clet Abraham. After some early morning online searches, and some articles on the Daily Mail and the Guardian, I learned that this French born classically trained artist lives in Florence and has been sneaking around cities across Europe altering street signs in the middle of the night, in the hopes of both entertaining those around him and discover the signs reflect on how people can blindly obey orders.
I’m so glad that by accident I stumbled upon this artist, and only wish I had known more about him before I went back to Florence this summer. What a fun it would have been to go on a scavenger hunt for his work while wandering the streets of the birthplace of the renaissance. It’s like the more sophisticated version of searching for hidden Mickey’s at Walt Disney World! If you would like to see more of his art, search for #Clet on Instagram and you will see a whole host of his work. Next trip to Florence, I’m adding one more activity to my agenda!
So your family won’t have to wander like we did, here is a list of the Top 10 Gelato Shops in Florence! And don’t worry, Max finally got that gelato in Lake Como 🙂