Thursday, May 3, 2007

One Fleeting Day in Florence (Italy)

As our train came into Florence, the little Italian Nonna sitting across the aisle from us gestured that she needed some help getting her bags off the train. Simon was happy to help. Six bags and two cakes later, Karina was on the platform surrounded by luggage and Simon was being chucked under the chin by the immensely grateful old lady.

Yet again we decided to drag our bags from the station up to our accommodation, and instantly noticed the difference between Florence and Naples - both much cleaner and much safer. Our conversation with the lady at the B&B upon arriving went something like:
Karina: Do you speak English?
B&B Lady: No, do you speak Italian?
Karina: No, do you speak French?
B&B Lady: No, do you speak Spanish?
We decided to give up before getting to Japanese, but managed to get by with a lot of nodding and smiling, and the Lonely Planet's Language section.

From the our first taste of dinner that night, we knew we were going to love Florence, and that one day wasn't going to be nearly enough. Karina's rabbit and Simon's steak were both amazing and we had our first taste of the famous Chianti red wine.

The next morning we joined yet another queue, this time to look through the Uffizi Gallery to see such famous paintings as The Birth of Venus by Botticelli. We past the two hours of waiting talking to a friendly and very interesting American named Ed. The gallery was good, but didn't leave us much time to see the rest of Florence. We grabbed a quick bite for lunch, after crossing the Ponte Vecchio (a bridge filled with gold and silver smiths). After briefly poking around the quaint streets, we had just enough time to track down Florence's best gelati before heading off to pick up our car.

The drive out of Florence wasn't too bad - Simon's now used to driving on the wrong side of the road, and much to everyone's surprise, Karina can actually read a map! But the drive to the airport to pick up a GPS was an eye-opening introduction to Italian drivers. Still, it was less chaotic than Naples...

We were really disapointed to have had such little time in Florence. It really felt like we barely scratched the surface. Yet another place we'll have to come back to!

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