Meaning Of Loaf

       Taking the easy road through life

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Return of the Tourist

I'm back. Back from the warm beautiful streets Florence, back to the cold, wet streets of England.

Travelling aside, it was a great holiday; the weather was cloudy but warm enough to walk the streets with light clothing, the food and wine was perfect, the sights were wonderful and the people were friendly. Really can't ask for more.

There were only a few problems in getting there, the first being entirely my fault. I'm a pretty good morning person, but given a 6am flight, which means getting up at 2am to get ready, drive to the airport and get checked in, things just can't go well. True to form, I set of for the airport after a brief look at the map of where my pre-booked off-airport parking was, and thought I would be able to memorise it. I also left the GPS, as I didn't want to leave it in the car or drag it on holiday with me. So after an hour of driving round and having to resort to paying extra for Heathrow long stay parking, I really only had myself to blame.

Despite the set back, I made the flight to Rome, followed by the transfer to Piza, arriving at around 2 in the afternoon, leaving just the final train journey from Piza to Florence. And here was the next problem. I'd assumed that if you buy a ticket, that's it, you've paid, you get on the train. Nobody mentioned stamping the ticket in the little machine next to the platform, as I found out when they came round to check the tickets:

Conductor: "This ticket has not been stamped."

Me: "Stamped?"

Conductor: "I can stamp it for you now, but you have to pay a fine."


Conductor: "That will be 5 euros."

Me: "Oh? Ok, sure!"

5 euros? You'd be looking at close to 30 euros in the UK! And since the ticket itself was only just over 5 euros, I could hardly be upset!

With these minor problems out of the way, I had arrived. The hotel was very nice, within a reasonable walking distance of the city centre, and was small but had everything I needed. It's the small details that make me happy, and after many hours of travelling, a hot and powerful shower was just the best thing in the world! Refreshed, I took a walk around some of the town and went in search of somewhere to eat.

One thing I was very grateful of was the amount of English speaking people around, I mean I had tried to learn some of the language and pick up a few basic phrases, but would still have been lost and starving if it wasn't for them. However, it's a testament to the Italian lifestyle, that the phrasebook I bought has a whole section on chatting up people:

You have such beautiful eyes
I tuoi occhi sono bellissimi

I love you
Ti amo

I don't feel as strongly about you
I miei sentimenti verso di te non sono cosi intensi

Take your hands off me
Non toccarmi

I'd like to go to bed with you
Vorrei andare a letto con te

Do you have a condom?
Hai un preservativo?

That's what they all say
Questo lo dicono tutti

Really, do you need to know any more than that?

So over the days I was there, I found many great places to eat, although I stuck mainly with pizzas and pastas (18 hours in a foreign hospital on a past trip was enough to kerb my enthusiasm for being too adventurous). Every meal was just perfect, and even the house wines that I had with the meal were far better than any I've had back home. If I'd stayed here any longer than four days, I would have exceeded the weight limit coming home.

Then there were the sights, and at this point, I have to admit that I didn't get that many photos as it was pretty cloudy, and I didn't want to stand around looking like a tourist waving my camera too much, so instead I'll treat you to these other pictures by people with far more talent than myself.

I spent most of my time over there just wandering around the streets and taking in the sights and sounds, from the markets where locals were selling locally crafted goods, to the churches and museums which were still packed with tourists even at this time of year. I have to admit I didn't go to the Uffizi, which is the one gallery everyone said I should visit in Florence, but my appreciation of art was outweighed by the queue that stretched round the building and didn't appear to be moving. I decided I'd rather spend time on the move and seeing everything else the city had to offer, and have no regret that I did.

Of course, no holiday would be complete without the handful of tourists that are just an embarrassment to the countries they come from, like the American couple I overhead while stood outside the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore:

"Hey, is that the Vatican?"

And just in case you think I'm picking on the Americans; an English couple I overhead at breakfast:

"You'd think they'd at least offer a full English breakfast alternative!"

Really, take away these peoples passports.

Still, a fantastic holiday, made all the better by hearing how awful the weather has been over here while I was away. With a bit more time, it would have been good to have a look around Piza and Rome as well, but I guess that will just have to wait for the next holiday. Italy, I'll be back!


  • I love that part of Italy, it's unbelievably laid back. Did you get to Sienna by the way, I love it there.

    By Blogger Six Years Late, at 1:47 pm  

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you for the Italian chatting up phrases. I will begin to use them post haste.

    As for the inevitable weight gain, I am right there with you! Italian food is very dangerous, and if I had access to real Italian food I believe the only way I would be able to move is if you rolled me down in a barrel.

    By Blogger classyandfancy, at 5:06 pm  

  • Didn't get a change to see Sienna, it was a bit of a short trip really. But there's a good chance I'll go back again, so I'll pay it a visit.

    Classy, use these phrases wisely, and they will serve you well! I'm also now on a mission to find anywhere in the UK that does calzone as good as the ones I had over there!

    By Blogger Matt, at 7:53 pm  

  • Wait, you mean The Vatican is not in Florence? I thought it was in Italy, and isn't that, like, a state in Florence?

    By Blogger Cherry Ride, at 8:03 pm  

  • Italy looks and sounds amazing. Glad you had an almost stress free vacation.

    By Blogger Julie_Gong, at 7:43 pm  

  • Quick, remove Cherry's passport, he's not allowed to travel!!

    Thanks Julie, just counting down to the next vacation now!

    By Blogger Matt, at 10:55 pm  

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