My last post may have made it sound like I just didn’t leave the hotel for a week (apart from for food). That’s not really that far off but it’s not entirely true. We had a whole two day trips. Okay, perhaps they were more like afternoon trips – we needed a minimum daily quota of pool time after all.
13th – 19th August 2016 The next week of my Tuscan trip passed way too quick, in a blur of outings to nearby towns, tasty meals and a whole lotta pool time at the Grotta Giusti. I had planned to swim everyday and use the hotel gym but in reality I didn’t enter the gym (obviously) and only managed to swim three times. My sunlounger was just so comfy. I did make it into the pool on more occasions but only really to cool down in breaks from sunbathing. My dedication to lying in the sun did pay off however as, very unusually for me, I managed to actually get a proper tan – and it was almost completely real (full disclosure: my aftersun has a bit of fake tan in it).
12th August Friday brought with it my last morning in Florence. Since my to do list was still no where near done I was up and out before the rest of my family were awake. I had a quick breakfast on my hotel’s terrace (stocking up on as much of that smoked bacon and scrambled eggs as I could) and headed over to the Bargello museum – close to the Palazzo Vecchio – so I arrived just after it had opened at 8.15am. This was very early for me but it turned out to be an excellent time for sightseeing. The city was relatively free of tourists and the museum only had a few other visitors.
11th August 2016 My second morning in Florence began a little slower. Instead of splitting up first thing, the five of us were all going to head to the Duomo – Florence’s elaborate cathedral. You had to get tickets to go up to the top (which I would have done if I hadn’t already found excellent views from the Palazzo Vecchio) or into the museum or the Baptistery of St John but we just wanted to head into the church itself, which was free. We aimed to get there when it opened at 10am but we arrived after a lovely breakfast on our hotel’s roof terrace (smokey bacon and scrambled eggs, pastries and fruit – yum) to find queues upon queues stretched out before us. A nearby tour guide told us it would be hours before we got in. Admittedly, he probably just wanted us to sign up for his tour but having seen the amount of people waiting, he can’t have been far off.
10th August 2016 Having been desperate to go to Florence for years and since I only had three days to see everything (actually only two and half days to be more precise), I needed to use my time efficiently. So I drew up a list of all the artworks I wanted to see and where I could find them but, when the realisation came that there was no way I could see them all, I narrowed them down.
9th August 2016 This year my family decided to go on our first family holiday altogether in seven years. When the idea of Italy came up I – probably not so subtly – suggested Florence. I’ve wanted to go since then age of about 17 when I studied art history at school and the majority of stuff we looked at seemed to be there. I’m now 24 (or at least I was when I was there – hello quarter of a century) and I can now say that I finally made it, having spent the first three days of our trip there before moving onto a town in the Tuscan hills.
I have to admit that I am pretty lucky to live in Europe, the continent has so many interesting and beautiful cities that are just a stone’s throw away from good old Blighty. Even if you do live a bit further out, however, there are many that are worth the trip:
Towards the end of last year, I wrote about the 5 places that I’d love to revisit. Although I love exploring new countries, I also love going back to places that I enjoyed the first time around. I mean, if you have a favourite flavour of Ben & Jerry’s (Half Baked, of course), you don’t only have it once and then continuously just try other flavours- you go back to what you love. Besides, just because you’ve been to one place in a country, doesn’t mean you’ve done it- the culture of one town can be wildly different from another.
A wise man- J. R. R. Tolkien, to be precise- once said, “not all those who wander are lost.” He had a point, however sometimes those who wander are just plain lost. Getting lost is not always a bad thing. If you fall off the beaten track, you might get to see the real city, find places which you never thought you’d see or stumbled across hidden gems. Yes, it can be a nightmare, I’ve had horror film scenes flashing through my mind and you can lose valuable time if you’re in a city for a limited amount of time but I’ve found that it usually turns out for the best. At the end of the day, you’ll probably at least get a decent story out of it.
This post is part of my series of city guides, designed to give you a bit of an introduction into the city in question: activities, accommodation, transport, restaurants, food and nightlife. It’ll also basically act as a contents page for everything I’ve ever written about the place. On my third trip to Italy, I finally made it to Venice. I was looking for somewhere to go over the Easter Bank Holiday, with one my Berlin travel buddy and, after flicking through the Ryanair website, we settled on Venice. I was there for three nights and three full days and we packed a lot in. Although there were a couple of things I would like to go back and see, I don’t feel like I missed too much.