I was supposed to post this quite a while ago. It’s been almost two weeks since I returned and what a whirlwind it has been…but more about that later!
I have to begin with saying that it was such an amazing trip and a fantastic experience to end with before I start adult working life (that still hasn’t sunk in and I start tomorrow!).
We were based in Florence and stayed in a rented apartment. I had no idea how nice it would be because there was a mix up with addresses and I wasn’t sure that the one we booked was the one we’d get. Sure it enough, it wasn’t…it was much better. We couldn’t believe our luck when we saw how good the location was (literally one road from the Duomo!), how clean it was, how BIG it was and how it was furnished with pretty much everything we could possibly need. It was great having a space to ourselves where we could be slobs together and do whatever the hell we wanted. The only downside about the flat was that it was on the third floor and there was no lift. My legs got a good workout climbing all those bloody steps.
The weather was hot, just as we expected it to be. When we stepped off the plane, the heat washed over us in waves. However it was dry heat so it was far more tolerable; humid heat is the worst. Eurgh! Despite the generous use of sun cream, I still came back tanned. This would normally be celebrated but brown people have this notion that fair is beautiful. Personally I think the tan looks pretty good but my mum was like ehhh. What do you expect when we’re out for 12 hours every day?!
The food was really really good. We had a few concerns about whether Meeti’s dietary requirements would be easily met (vegan plus no eggs, onions or garlic) but it turns out Italians use few ingredients and what they say is what you get. A margherita pizza is literally just dough, tomato sauce and mozzerella but my god it tastes good. One of the best places we ate at was called the ‘OK- bar’ which is quite a self-deprecating name. It ought to be called the ‘Mighty fine- bar’ or ‘A lot better than OK- bar’. I had pasta or pizza every single day. So good!
It’s always hard to describe an atmosphere but Florence had a really good one. Obviously there were lots of tourists but it still felt calm and all the people we met were super friendly. The evenings were particularly special because Florence simply lights up, both literally and metaphorically. The cool air is so inviting that it brings everyone out and you can easily chat the night away. In contrast to the intimate town feel of Florence, Rome strongly felt like a city in the sense that it was buzzing with people and was so big. However it also didn’t feel as safe. Case in point- Meeti felt someone tug on her bag as she walked off the metro. We were on high alert for the rest of the day as we simply couldn’t afford to lose our bags. Pisa also didn’t compare to Florence. Despite its beauty and being the home of the leaning tower, it didn’t charm me in the same way. Every road you walk down in Florence has something that catches your eye and steals your attention. It is so much more than just the sights.
But speaking of sights, Florence is of course famous for its art and culture and for being the setting of Dan Brown’s book which excited Meeti to no end. Being a Maths/Science orientated person I am really not the most cultured person. I don’t appreciate Art in the way other people do; I don’t know what makes one painting better than another; I can’t talk about brush strokes and historical background for more than five minutes. But even I knew that some of the stuff I saw was really special.
The level of detail of some of the paintings and sculptures was exemplary and subtle things like facial expressions and soft eyes captured emotion in a way that I had never seen before. But being us, we weren’t serious for long and very soon we started adding our own silly captions to the paintings and copying the some of the really bizarre stances of the sculptures to great comical effect.
I have to say, back in the day the artists were seriously obsessed with the human body is all its naked glory. Boobs and pee-pees everywhere. It was quite disconcerting initially. I found it curious that all the men seemed to have abs of steel whilst the women were curvy, fat rolls in abundance, cleavage hanging out. Given the realism of the paintings I thought it was strange how everyone was hairless, even the guys (except for the mandatory man bush). I know it’s effort to add shadow but if they had time to include cellulite and butt dimples I figure it would have been a walk in the park.
I couldn’t possibly list all the things I saw so instead I will talk about the highlights. The best part of the holiday by far was our evening on the steps at the top of Piazzale Michelangelo. It was one of those moments you read about in books. The sun was going down; the air was cool; there was a man playing classic songs on an acoustic guitar to an enraptured crowd; the view was spectacular. It felt magical to be there with some of my favourite people in the whole world, munching on our cheese and tomato baguettes from home. It’s definitely up there in the top five best evenings of my life.
Climbing nearly five hundred mismatched awkward steps up narrow paths and in dark conditions doesn’t sound great but the view at the top of the Duomo more than made up for it. You could see for miles around, even mountains in the distance and it was so bright up there that it was hard not to squint in all the pictures. The Boboli gardens also provided picturesque views with its fountains and paths roofed by trees. The sheer scale of the gardens was impressive and its famous path lined with sculptures and plants definitely lived up to expectations.
Here are some more pics from our trip!
Over and Out!