21.08.2012 - 26.08.2012
After a great trip to Paris and a relaxing time there it was time to get my travelling boots back on and see some new sites. Having never been to Italy before I was very excited to see both Rome and Florence, two places that so many of my friends had loved and somehow before this trip Italy hadn't made it on my list to visit.
So I find myself in Rome and its BOILING. While I am happy to have escaped the cool climate of Melbourne most of my traveling has been met with very warm weather...almost too warm when you are trying to sightsee.
Even getting the shuttle bus in from the airport I was already getting so excited. Driving past the Colosseum on your way to downtown from the airport was a real trip. When I drive from the airport to the city at home I get to see the westgate bridge as a highlight! Haha.
I only had one full day in Rome so it was up early the next morning to try and beat the heat and the crowds. Unfortunately I wasn't able to do either...by 11am it was 39C and trying to get a photo without thousands of people in it was impossible.
So it was off to see all I could of Rome in a day. Unfortunately the public transport were striking (well the part that you get transport to the Vatican with) so I was unable to get across to see the Vatican. Will just have to do another trip to Italy...shouldn't have to twist my arm too hard.
So in Rome I was able to see the colosseum which was really spectacular in real life, to envisage that was a real stadium being used in the roman times was hard to get my head around. Its even harder to understand when Australia is such a young country in comparison.
After the colosseum I was able to visit the Trevi fountain, Spanish steps and the pantheon. Unfortunately most of Europe does refurbishing of their important monuments during August so many of them were half covered in scaffolding when I was there.
Not only did Rome offer great architecture I also had a fantastic gelato...my first but definitely not my last in Italy!!!
The next day it was off to Florence on the train where I would meet Sally. After weeks of just missing each other in places it was exciting to meet up with her and have a travel buddy for a while.
The trains in Italy run super efficiently, and I was in Florence on time. Florence was going to be the first time I used airbnb.com which is a website where people rent our rooms or whole apartments all over the world. We rented a room in an apartment in the old town in florence. The best thing about it is that you can come and go as you please, and it's the same price as if we both paid for a bed in a hostel.
The apartment was on the less touristy side of the river in Florence and our host gave us good suggestions for eating out and where we should definitely see in Florence.
Sal and I spent each day walking the streets of Florence, taking in the food and the sights. Each day continued in the same way temperature wise...HOT!
The first night after Sally arrived we went out to eat in a small square near where we were staying. It was the start of our very good luck with places to eat. The entire time in Florence we were lucky enough to only find very good food. We stuck almost exclusively to eating on our side of town rather than in the more touristy part where all the galleries and duomo are.
The second day we decided to go and walk up to the main lookout of Florence which gives you great views of the entire city. It's at Michelangelo square where they have all the ripoffs of his famous works. The view from there was fantastic, and it seemed like in the huge heat that a lot of the crowds were not out. There is also a monastery on the very top of the hill that was very tranquil. After descending down the hill and having a fantastic lunch of bruschetta and beer it was off to walk the town.
Unfortunately on this day we hadn't prepared ourselves to go inside the churches as we were both wearing singlets (something we hadn't thought about at the time when getting ready in the morning) but Florence is a beautiful town to walk around. That night we went exploring down some alleyways and came across a fantastic restaurant serving a specialty of the region which is a ravioli filled with Gorgonzola and pear in a cheese and asparagus sauce! It was something that we thought we must try and after an odd first bite we were soon sold on how delicious the dish was!!! Of course on the way home we made a mandatory gelato stop...
The next day was another day of exploring, but this time we actually were prepared to be covered up enough to go inside some of the churches. Like France, if it really took your fancy you could spend the entire week visiting churches. We went to a couple of them that took our interest, one in particular that had the tomb of Michelangelo.
As Sally had been previously to Florence I was on my own when adventuring to see 'David' at the Academy gallery. It was awesome to see the actual statue in real life.
It was another great day in Florence...but sal and I might have pushed ourselves a little bit too far walking wise, as we went to bed with sore ankles and waking up the next morning they still hadn't faded.
On our final full day in Italy we had booked into a day trip of Tuscany. We started the day in the rain (shock horror) in Siena. Siena was a beautiful town with the most amazing church. It is entirely marble, both the exterior and interior and we were lucky enough that the marble floor had been totally unveiled the week before so we could see the entire church in all it's glory. It really was quite breathtaking.
After Siena it was off to have lunch and wine tasting at a vineyard in the Tuscan hills. We had a great time there and the sun really started to shine. You can imagine how people fall in love with Tuscany and want to buy a house there and live the 'under the Tuscan sun' dream.
Once lunch was over it was onto another beautiful town in Tuscany that was completely walled. It had some beautiful views high on the hill of the entire Tuscany region and we got some great shots up there. Sal also dabbled in a little shopping picking up a new leather bag.
Our last stop for the day was at the leaning tower of Pisa! We did many of the must do shots using the tower. It was a great way to officially celebrate my seven week on the road mark, and it was so nice to share it with sal! Here is a little synopsis of the day in Tuscany:
The next morning it was off on the train to Milan to fly out to London.
I can't wait to come back another time to Italy and eat my way around other areas....it's definitely a TBC for Italy and I!
“When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” – William Least Heat Moon