Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tuscany In A Flourish- Florence, Italy

Joining back up with BusAbout in Rome we had been away from the loops for so long that we had become oblivious to the increase in BusAbout travellers pushing there way through the South Loop on to the West Loop in time for the Spanish festival La Tomatina. Being the travellers we are we left it till the last minute to book a seat on the bus through to Sienna and Florence in Italy's gorgeous Tuscan region. Unfortunately the buses were completely booked up for weeks even though extra bus services had been added. Forcing us to skip Sienna and spend only one night in Florence. Which meant we had less than 24 hours to immerse ourselves in the best of Florentine life. 

Along the way we made a stop for a few hours in a little village Orvieto. Perched on top of the summit of a volcano, the views from above were astonishing. Wide stretched fields with, dramatic rocky mountainsides and volcanoes. One of Orvieto's famous specialties is wild Boar. Not my idea of a good time but James certainly didn't waste any time in finding a sandwich house making what is said to be the best Boar sandwiches in town. The little village itself was a delight to spend the day sifting through its festive markets throughout the square then taking the time to lie back and take a moment to enjoy its lush shady gardens.

Arriving into Florence we didn't want to waste anytime. Home to some of the greatest artists of all time, including Leonardo Di Vinci, Florence is Italy's centre of vibrant and expressive culture. Taking the time to lose ourselves amongst the endless leather market stalls we made our way to the famous bridge, Ponte Vecchio. In the 17th century merchants from butchers to gold smiths lined the bridge. It is said the term bankruptcy was originated here, when the merchant could not pay his bills the table where he sold his goods the 'banco' would be snapped in half by the lord mayors soldiers. Now days the bridge is lined with the finest jewellery shops of Florence. 

Signing up for a walking tour and dinner was a fantastic way to get the most out of our limited time. The tour took us through the main old town area where we learnt about the royal family that once ruled Florence. Not having the time to head into Galleria dell'Accademia where Michael Angelo's famous statue of David stands. We had to settle for a well made replica of the great David found in the near by square. For me the favourite part of the tour was heading to the Piazza del Duomo. One of the worlds largest cathedrals. Enormous is an understatement as we stood in front of the 1294 striking Gothic style church looking deeply into its intense red, green and white facade I suddenly felt as if I had shrunk to be just one inch tall. The giant dome at the exterior remained roofless for years and was only completed in 1436 after vast studies on the Pantheon in Rome. After St Peters Basilica in Rome I didn't think I would ever be so impressed by another church in my life. I am glad to say that Florence without a doubt proved me wrong.  

The tour took us to one of Florence's leather stores where we got to take part in a leather demonstration workshop. The presentation taught us the techniques of how leather is used to make products and taught us many useful tips on how to spot authentic leather and how to know if it is a fake. The tour ended at a near by restaurant where we received a massive four course meal with complimentary wine. Florence is well known for its chianti red wine which I didn't waste any time like always overindulging myself, from that point on it was all down hill. As we ended our night in a trashy karaoke bar where BusAbout spent the night battling Contiki, one tragically great 90's song at a time. 

Disappointed to be leaving so early the following morning I could have spent a lot more of my time getting lost in the magic of Florence and venturing out into its Tuscan countryside. Considering our short stay I did feel like we had accomplished and seen so much in just one night. Tuscany is definitely on the very long list of places to come back and explore.

The Wanderer's Daughter xx

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