A long bus day with our tour group went by fairly quickly with a lot of naps, and a lot of laughs. We stopped by Pisa, and grabbed some gelato by the leaning tower. Out trip leader dared us to run along and “high five” all the people that were trying to get a photo in front of the leaning tower where it looks like they’re holding it up. The other person in our team had to take a photo / video of it as proof, which again gave us a great lot of laughs!
We made it into Florence and after check in / dinner and cheap shots and cocktail buckets (so much alcohol for so little money), we went out to a local karaoke bar called the red garter for a night on the town. My voice became hoarse from singing along in the crowd and we all had a messy but fun night. The hangovers were very real for many of us the next day.
After a short stint of sleep (4.5 hours) we were up and at it again for a walking tour of Florence. It was dreary and the woman was monotonous. Im not sure if it was partially due to the hangover and lack of sleep or if it was just her delivery. Never the less, I saw a lot of Florence, and a leather workshop. Afterwards I went exploring the city. A group of us tried to get back to the town square for lunch with everyone but we were a couple of blocks away and missed the group. Intsead we went into a local restaurant with terribly service, but nice food, and better wine! I then went into both cathedrals (one was the Duomo) and then went to see some beautiful artworks including the original statue of David.
A nap and a nice dinner out has rounded off the day. I’ve laughed so much I’ve cried and my stomach hurt.
Another bus day tomorrow as we head onwards to Rome!
We stopped to look over the city of Florence as we headed to Rome. We stopped off in a little medieval-esque town called Orvieto and had the most amazing gelato after lunch. Orvietto had a plethora of stray cats raoming around, especially at the lookout at the peak of the hill on which the town stood. There was a beautiful church (another one) and the people were friendly although their English was not so great. It had a real charm about it.
When we arrived in Rome, we headed straight to the Vatican (in Vatican City). We saw the Pope making his address for Ash Wednesday on the screens as he was inside St Peters. Apparently that is a fairly rare occasion so that was pretty col to experience, although it meant St Peters was closed to the public so we could not go in. Michaelangelos Sistine Chapel roof was amazing (no pics of that sorry, not allowed photos). We spent a while in there, and having just learned about what each stage of his paintings meant and the hidden sly portrayals of people he did or didnt like into the faces of the paintings it added so much more to it!
That night was a wild Toga party for our tour group at our hostel. It was about now that I started to feel a little run down but tried not to let it get the best of me, and went to bed semi-early (around midnight).
The following day we went on a walking tour of Rome and saw all the main sites including the Trevi fountain, Pantheon, the ruins of the Roman forum and the Colosseum to name but a few. By the Trevi fountain is the “virgin fountain”. Apparently if you drink from the natural spring water that flows here you are re-virginised. Obviously I drank from it, and now I am pure! Rome is beautiful. We grabbed some food (everyone had pizza while I found something GF) and more gelato in a shop that has over 150 flavours! By this time I was feeling quite ill and strugglig to continue on through town, but I pushed through to the Colosseum as my final stop. It was grand and glorious and poor Hannah fell ass up down the stairs! Its not something I would have liked to have done, they were large, and hard, but shes survived!I finished up my day early to head back and sleep off the illness.
On to Venice tomorrow!
We left the beautiful city of Rome and stopped off in the romantic town of Verona. I saw Juliettes window (from Romeo and Juliette), and wrote my name and my girlfriends name on the love wall outside it (apparently eternal love comes to those with their names there). I also ate strawberries and chocolate with gelato in it too. Amazing! There were Valentines day stalls sprouting the streets of Verona and being a city of love, they surely embraced it. We went into the shops in town and looked at the markets before heading off.
In Venice I saw the local sights, a church with a golden roof, went to a lace demonstration, a glass making demonstration, explored the town, visited a bookshop with a staircase of books overlooking the canals and of course went on a Gondola ride. The Gondola in front of ours with a handful of fellow Topdeckers had a Goldolier who sang to them and made up a song based on Kearneys name. We heard it from our boat. Our Gondolier however refused to sing. Unlucky for us!
Venice is smelly, old and a little bit dirty, but oh so charming and beautiful at the same time. The seagulls are big enough to eat the pigeons, and if you ask our trip leader, they apparently do! It is rustic, it is charming, it is romantic, it has a character that is unique to Venice.
There were a lot of homeless people here in Venice, and I gave a couple some of my left over food over the days I was there. They were very appreciative and looked surprised when i offered it to them. I wonder how many people just walk past them every day (its winter which is quiet for tourists but there are still people everywhere). Its sad to think that people privileged enough to holiday in Italy don’t have the care to offer any support to those less fortunate. A smile even goes a log way.
Also on the streets and something I haven’t written about yet but has been prominent since France is the street sellers. We hear “Selfie… Selfie… Selfie” all day as mostly tall African men but a mixture of races offers to sell you selfie sticks for ten euros. In Pisa they were the worst with using sneaky catch phrases to lure you in like “boom shakka lakka lady gaga” to get your attention. In France they have people like that but that also sell key chain type souvenirs of the Eiffel Tower etc which is actually illegal to purchase. The “string men” are Gypsie thieves who ask to show you a trick with string and actually just tie up your fingers until you give them money. Anyway, these people, I did ignore so that i was not pestered and/or robbed.
Back to Venice: we weren’t in town for the aqua vergo today, but when the tide is high, the central square of Venice goes under water as it seeps up through the ground. The shops are built to deal with it and life carries on, water or not. Some buildings are leaning as the town slowly sinks. It is sad to think that one day, Venice will not be what it is now.
Italy has been full of romance, and being the soppy romantic I am, I’ll definitely have to come back here. 💖
Let the adventures continue!