We’re now en route to Milan, dahling, Milan! So far so good. No slug trains for us this time. We accidentally got on the slow regional train instead of the fast one from Rome to Florence… 5 hours later and noi siamo arrivati!
Our arrival in Florence consisted of hauling our heavy suitcases across the cobbled streets in the afternoon heat and a bit of effing and blinding on my half, but again imagine our surprise when we opened our door to a direct view down the Ponte Veccio. Cha-ching! In the morning I feasted on the best scrambled eggs and bacon I’ve ever had (sorry Mark!) whilst gazing out over the orange city’s most infamous landmarks. The only rivalled view of Florence was from Michelangelo’s Piazza which is well worth the climb, but the hotel had cats…
We only stayed in Florence long enough to freshen up and peg it back to the station to take pictures of a rather significant tower. 45 minutes later we found ourselves in Pisa and with no map we ventured through the small centre in search of the most anticipated monument of the trip. Walking down a side street, we thought we were lost when suddenly my housemate’s stomach did a back flip and she pointed to a suitably wonky tower, poking out in front of a (naturally) scaffolded cathedral. You so often see the Leaning Tower of Pisa in pictures that seeing it in real life is like seeing a celebrity!
We stayed in the beautiful piazza for about an hour, taking the customary holding-up-the-tower photos and laughing at how ridiculous everyone looks on the forbidden grass, the signs of which everyone ignored (until a rather bored guard strolled across to move us all, alternating between blowing his whistle and taking a drag on his fag). If you don’t get chance to go up the tower (you have to book a time slot), then the surrounding buildings are just as impressive.
Back in Florence, we were certainly hangry (you know when you’re so hungry that you’re a little angry?). So much so that I committed the worst travelling sin: McDonald’s. I had an Italian special with parmesan and Italian beef – does that make it OK?! If not, I don’t care. It meant that we were sufficiently nourished to explore Florence that evening.
I was most excited to visit Florence and see the places mentioned in Dan Brown’s Inferno as I’d created such vivid pictures in my mind. It definitely exceeded my expectations. The city has such a charm due to its colours, history and size which appealed to my islander upbringing.
Unfortunately we didn’t have time to venture into the museums but I will certainly return to see the incredible works and tombs of people like Michelangelo, Galileo and… whoever else is mentioned in Inferno! We did however have time to climb the 414 steps of the Campanile de Giotto, do a spot of shopping and attack a Florentina steak. NOM! (it was here that I walked in on a man having a pee, and who also didn’t understand personal space as you can see)
See you en route to Venice in less than 24h!
Travel tip #2: pack a couple of thin sarongs or scarves to throw in your bag for any monuments that require a more conservative dress code.