Yesterday, January 22, was a slow day. We left the apartment late in the day to do some walking and then came back to do some laundry and take it easy until dinner time. While we were out we purchased tickets to the Teatro Verdi to see the Orchestra della Toscana that night. On a student recommendation we went to eat at the Gatto e la Volpe restaurant which was down the street from the theater. It is a very popular place for the students – mostly American. The food was good and reasonably priced. The concert started at 9:00 (in Italy, it is always later) and was just a short walk from the restaurant. The guest soloist was an Armenian-born 24 year old cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan. He was awarded the Gold Medal at the 2011 XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition, as well as the Prize for the Best Performance of the Chamber Concerto, and the audience prize. Already hailed a “seasoned phenom” by the Washington Post following his Kennedy Center debut, Narek’s 2011-2012 season includes his debut with the Chicago Symphony, concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra and Mariinsky Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev, as his New York concerto debut at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall as part of the Young Concert Artists gala with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. He performed Schumann’s Concerto in A Minor for cello – and two more pieces since the crowd would not stop applauding and he did 2 encores. This young man was fantastic! I have to say that the Italians love these concerts. The place was packed – even with many young people. The Toscana Orchestra also performed a Martucci piece and a Mendelssohn. It was great. We walked home then with the streets pretty empty. You don’t see that in Florence very often. Today we did our favorite walk and planned to eat lunch at a place we have wanted to try for awhile. From our place we walked through the Porto Romana to the Machiavelli street which winds you up to the Galileo Piazzale then further up to the Michelangelo Piazzale which has the great views down into Florence. But, as we have found often here, they took a day off and closed their restaurant. They work when they want to – which is a good attitude for long life but I think not for capitalism. Hah! After reaching the lookout area we found some steps which takes you quickly down through the Porta San Miniato (old city gates and walls). Once through the gate we found this great restaurant that was serving a lunch buffet from 12 to 3 for 10 euros including water, wine, and coffee. A great deal for this city – and our meal for the day.