“One doesn’t come to Italy for niceness…one comes for life. Buon giorno! Buon giorno!”
I was busting to get to Florence (years of Forster playing in my mind). It did not disappoint.
The Duomo and views from the Campanile – it’s nothing short of breathtaking. We didn’t get to see all the monuments included in the ticket however I’ll be the last person to grizzle about queues. Sure, the queues for things in Florence are long (can’t imagine what it’s like in summer – maybe I would grizzle then!) however, once inside, the experience is pleasant. I compare it to visits to other attractions (I’m looking at you, Louvre) where there are such crowds that it’s unbearable. We used our queueing time wisely – taking turns to explore the surrounds and eat gelato.
Soccer – I always love going to sports events when I’m somewhere foreign, so we headed to Empoli to watch a game of football (soccer). Told the kids to make sure they cheered whenever the people around them cheered – turns out we were sitting with the Inter Milan supporters (who won 1-0).
Gelato Day – my parents took me to Europe when I was twelve. We were in Italy for just a few days and the stand-out memory was ‘gelato day’, when my dad declared that only gelato would be eaten for an entire day and night. To the delight of my children, I continued the tradition. Highlights: mandarin gelato from Vivoli; pretty flower cones from Amorino; and the Nutella (with cream) from Don Nino.
Sunset over the Arno – have I even seen such a wide river so glassy and still? I don’t think so. We stood on the Ponte Vecchio watching the sunset and it was one of those holiday moments where you pinch yourself and think “How lucky am I? Very.”
Florence from afar – is there a prettier city skyline? Probably not.
The other bits that made me happy in Florence – a pizza and gelato making class; making sure I had bought enough fluoro David fridge magnets for friends; the calm of the Galleria dell’Accademia; the flashbacks to my urban planning history class when crossing the Piazza della Signoria; and the much-needed (post-gelato-day) protein hit from a delicious bistecca (tried a few but the best was at Mangiafuoco).
From Florence we drove through the Val d’Orcia region – Siena, Montalcino, glorious countryside and finishing in Montepulciano.
The countryside – green rolling hills that looked more like artfully draped velvet than the course grass that it actually was. And the obligatory stop at the picturesque Capella di Vitaleta.
Bagno Vignoni – if only we could swim at these hot springs *sigh*. Never mind, the history of the town’s water use and infrastructure was interesting (alas, despite extensive information about the water use at the site, there is little online).