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gapvic

Italy Trip, Part 3 Of 4

8 posts in this topic

gapvic   

Dear all,

Today, our last one in Florence, we had a stunning hail storm of what dad described as "biblical proportions". Which was probably quite apt given mum and I were stuck in a crypt at the

time.

The day started like every other day of our trip so far - sunny. Dad opted to hopefully get lost walking the streets while mum and I went to visit the Villa Medici at Castello. Not featured in any of the guide books, it was a lovely garden and completely and utterly empty save for the gardeners tending the plants. About half of it was terraced and full of citrus trees in massive pots, while the rest was parkland.

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After a lovely time walking around it we visited the Basillica di San Lorenzo. As we made our way there we noticed that the gypsy vendors had stopped selling their fake pictures and were instead selling umbrellas.

Observation no. 16 - the items the gypsies are selling are a fair indication of the weather to come.

We were down in the crypt when the storm hit and the sound, even that far under the ground, was incredible. The attendants shut the doors to prevent the hail coming down the steps and we were stuck there in the vaulted rooms until it passed. When we were finally allowed out we were greeted with a fabulous scene - thick hail everywhere! Piled up under cars, across the streets, it looked like snow and everyone was having a fine time playing in it. The street vendors around the market didn't fare so well and a lot of their canvas tents had collapsed under the deluge.

Suddenly it occurred to mum that we had left our windows wide open. Oh dear. Thankfully dad had managed to find his way back to the apartment just as the storm hit and while our carpet and couches are now sodden, he managed to save the washing we had drying on a stand.

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Our time here has flown past and as each day ends we like the city a little more. None of us love it here but our days have been interesting and enjoyable.

Yesterday, keen to get out into the countryside, we traveled on a double decker train to the unremarkable town of Emboli and then by bus to Vinci, a small hilltop town best known for being where Leonardo di Vinci was born and raised. There were two reasons we had come to Vinci:

1. It was in the county and 2. It didn't rate a feature in the Lonely Planet which we hoped also meant that it would be relatively tourist free.

It turned out we were correct and we had the sweet little town pretty much to ourselves. After a wander around we walked just over 5kms through rolling hills covered in olive groves and vineyards till we reached the next town, Cerrato Guidi. There we sat in the shade and waited, and waited, and waited until finally a bus came along to take us back to Emboli and our train Florence. It was another beautiful sunny day (as every day here has been, minus the storm) and we returned home happy and content after a day out of the city.

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That night for dinner we had THE BEST PIZZA EVER. Just in case you missed that, it was THE BEST PIZZA EVER. Mere words can't describe the utter deliciousness of the pizza. The attached photo will have to suffice.

Observation no. 17 - Judith's doppelganger lives in Florence; we saw her one evening being dragged down the street by her weimarana. And unlike the monster in Lake Como over which there remains some doubt as to whether I actually saw or simply imagined, this sighting is 100% true. I have witnesses.

Earlier in the week we took a tram ride to the Mercato Delle Cascine, a market that runs for 1.5kms along side the Arno river. The stalls were mostly clothing but the highlight was, without a doubt, the pet stall at which you could buy chinchillas, baby squirrels and something called Piccolo Orsetti which looked like fat little mice with no tails. All utterly adorable.

Observation no. 18 - It's fortunate that you can't buy chinchillas, baby squirrels and Piccolo Orsetti in Australia.

Observation no. 18a - Although I rather wish you could.

We parted ways on Wednesday with mum and dad going to the Unesco classified town of San Gimignano. Apparently half the other tourists in Florence had the same idea and followed them there. I instead chose to go shopping. First, the market to get fresh pasta for dinner and to listen to a stallholder singing as he arranged his vegetables. Then I visited what I'm pretty sure was every one of the 2000 or so shoe stores in Florence. To recover I sat in a crowded piazza for a while and daydreamed in the sunshine. Afternoon tea was gelato (peanut butter and toffee - yum!). It was all very nice. Wednesday, it turned out, was also the day for which I had booked tickets for the Uffizi. Stupidly for some reason we had all thought they were for Thursday. Having been somewhat daunted by the kilometer long queue we had noticed when walking past at times I have to admit that I wasn't overly disappointed at our mistake. The Uffizi can wait for another time.

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Tomorrow we head to La Spezzia, our base for exploring the Cinque Terre. We hope to spend two days walking the entire no. 2 path. Dad will do it on his ear. Mum will struggle with her hips and me, well most of you know I'm allergic to exercise. I'm hoping our training up and down our Stairway of Hell will put us in good stead and we won't expire along the way.

Love to all,

Larissa, Christine & Michaelxoxo

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gapvic   

Re the piccolo orsetti, my sister has since told me they are also known as Russian Hampsters. So so cute!!

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I bet a lot of tourists make the mistake of touching all those lovely fresh fruit & vegies, amazing colours!

looking forward to catching up on your other photos as I get a chance

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Re the piccolo orsetti, my sister has since told me they are also known as Russian Hampsters. So so cute!!

Before I scrolled down I wondered if they might be Dormice with this description "fat little mice with no tails" :)

Gorgeous photos again, love the pink flowers (Meadowsweet?) and the amount of hail is amazing!!

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Taliecat   

I keep finding myself popping back into the photos thread just to see if part 4 is out yet.

Your photos and the accompanying story of your Italian trip are wonderful

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teekay   

Not sure how I managed to miss this when it was first posted.

First, a complaint. I wanted to see the attached pizza photo :mad :D

That fruit stall is amazing. What are the long pink things at the front? Love how the signs "Please don't touch" are in English :laugh:

And wow for the hail. It's funny to see people in short sleeves with, what appears to be, snow on the ground :laugh:

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gapvic   

Sorry guys, think I've finished the photos so will try to get it up tonight :).

Teekay, I took the photo of the pizza on my iphone, sorry! Those long pink things are beans. At Italian markets you just point to what you want and they will get it for you - the stallholders apparently don't like you handling the fruit and vegies :)

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Ozstar   

Simple stunning and that fruit OMG it all looks so good (insert drool here)

Leanne

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