So on Saturday 29th May (seems so long ago now!), we said goodbye to Castiglioncello and Hotel Miramare and jumped on the train back to Livorno, then Pisa, before arriving in Florence mid-afternoon. And again, we got lost. By this stage, it was just funny rather than frustrating as we expected it to happen. The address the hotel had given us was 80 via Cavour which turned out to be legal offices. In very stilted Italian, I asked a rather spunky bloke walking his doggies about where he thought the hotel was. He was very lovely and I was quite enamoured for about 30 seconds - I can look okay? I regained my composure after he couldn't help us and with a sense of verve and refreshment, I set about trying to work it out. It HAD to be on this street somewhere. Only problem was the street spanned a good part of central Florence! My dashing husband suddenly had the wonderful idea to ring the hotel. I knew I married him for a reason. His Italian was pretty much non existent but he managed to get '88' out of the manager. Woo hoo! I was a bit disheartened when I realised we were at about 160 but then suddenly it went from 140 to 90-something. Of course it did; this is Italy!
And then we entered the BEST hotel on the trip. So good it deserves a plug - www.hotelathenaeum.com If you stay in Florence and want a lovely, modern hotel with good breakfasts and fabbo bathrooms and a decent bed - STAY HERE! It's about a 15 minute walk from the Duomo.
We rested for about half an hour and then went out to explore! Unfortunately that didn't last very long. I don't know what I had eaten that day but I got to the point where I could barely walk, the stomach cramps were so bad. To cut a long story short, and try to reduce any embarrassment, all I can say is thank god for the little gelato cafe on the corner and the loo he had in the basement. Please, all of you, please have a laugh at my expense. It was rather amusing (the next day).
After feeling just a little bit crook - where was I? Italy or India?? - we ended up going back to the hotel.
The next day, we set forth to see Florence. One of our fave places was Piazza della Signoria - loads of places to eat (I cry a little when I remember how good the sweet treats were and how I just should have eaten more and bugger the weight gain!) and of course the statues! So much history - the equestrian statue of Cosimo, the copy of David of course, the Rape of the Sabine Women and my personal fave, Perseus chopping the head off Medusa.
I tell you what, coming back to Aus I realise we are such a nanny country. We are so politically correct here. I honestly can't see that it would be 'allowed' to show so many naked willies in one spot, even though they are on statues. I'm sure some group would cry foul. Bring on the massive, naked statues of men I say..... *shutting up now*
Going back to semi-nakedness just for a second - did you see the book? The big butt book? I swear it was published just for me. I should have bought it. Why didn't I buy it? Who cares if it was in Italian??
Back on track....
Oh the food, the markets, the leather bound journals (thank you Lauren!), the shopping, the art, the hot people. Italian women were pretty gorgeous everywhere we went, but especially hot in Florence. Wow I was humbled but also challenged at the same time. It made me want to dress nicer, wear heels and more make up. The longer I stayed in Florence, the sexier I felt! It was contagious! Husband was especially happy :)
ABOVE: Working it outside the Duomo. PHOTO CREDIT: Husband
I did love the Uffizi but probably not recommended for people not interested in looking at a thousand+ 'Madonna with Child' paintings. Both husband and Charlie fit into this category. One painting will stick with me forever. It was called 'Massacre of the Innocents' by Volterra - just loads of babies and toddlers being slaughtered in front of their parents. Lovely. And they worry about violent video games in today's society!! That was pretty full on. Along with the Caravaggio exhibition downstairs: lots of throat slicing going on. Noice. There was a great view of the Ponte Vecchio (pics above) from the Uffizi as well. I love this bridge - so much charm! It was the only bridge in Florence not destroyed by the retreating German army at the end of WWII.
Oh and we beat the queue to the Uffizi on Monday. We went straight to the desk, reserved tickets for an hour later (12pm), then went away to have some gelato and cake (as you do), wandered back at 11.50am and they let us straight in. I felt a bit bad for all the people who were waiting up to two and a half hours in a line. Why would you? It's not a secret! So if you do go to Florence and don't want to wait in a queue, either book ahead or just reserve your timeslot and come back a bit later!
More soon :) x