Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Toussaints #5: Florence

Florence: Where we met the nicest girl on the planet, I learned what a selfie stick was and immediately decided it represented everything wrong in society, and cried with joy

I have to start the Florence post with our covoiturage there from Venice: it was amazing. We were in a car with an Italian pro-soccer player (recently retired) and an Italian girl from Florence a few years older than us who spoke flawless English. She basically planned the next day out for us (which was good since our wifi-less housing situation had prevented us from doing it the night before), and then she offered to show us around for a few hours the next day. She was fantastic, she even said she felt bad hadn't shown us around Venice. "What? You didn't even know we existed a few hours ago!" And she shared her crackers, so the kindergartner in me immediately liked her.

My notes for that day: "This is fantastic! But I'm so tired my eyes are going to fall out, sleep."

The hostel was weird, it was set up like a hotel but there were four people per room. The wifi didn't work very well and there was no place to cook. And here commenced our microwave-food dinners section of the trip.

The next day we walked around mostly. It was a nice city, especially near the river. It was quite touristy though, and there were a lot of selfie sticks to prove it. They're exactly what they sound like: sticks you put your phone on to take "that perfect selife." I already hate selfies as it is, I detested these sticks and the men that kept shoving them in my face. Honestly what is this world coming to that people pay 15 euros to take photos of themselves?

That evening we met up with the girl from the covoiturage and she bought us gelato. We wandered around for a couple hours with her and her friend before making our way to the Piazza Michelangelo, a square which gives you a fantastic panoramic view of the city. We took a wrong turn and went up the hill the long way and didn't get there until after it got dark, but I think that made it better. We visited the church and then we sat on a ledge and stared out into the city. After that we wandered over to a staircase where quite a few people were hanging out listening to some guy playing guitar and singing behind us. It was hands-down my favorite part of the city.

Touristy places tend to feel...plastic, and as a tourist you can't help but constantly feel like a target for exploitation; but being up there, in Chelsea's words, "felt more real." I couldn't agree more. "Finally away from all those stupid selfie sticks" I wrote that night. Once again my "climb up a hill and you'll see something cool" theory proved to be true. It was so nice up there it took a few tries before we actually managed to get up and go back to the hostel.

The next day we were going to take a trip to Sienna, but the idea of another two hours on a bus, another early morning, another day of rushing around...ugh. I talked to the lady at the front desk and she suggested Fiesole instead, a tiny little town in the mountains just 20 minutes out of Florence by public bus. I can't speak for Chelsea, but I was SO relieved we decided to do that instead (we got to sleep!).

I LOVED Fiesole. The main thing to see there is the Roman ruins and a monastery up on a hill. Besides that it's just a very nice, more outdoorsey, quite place (and not a single selfie stick in sight). Walking through a quiet forest? Definitely more my style. It was great.

And then: near tragedy. I almost lost my camera. I got off the bus once we got back into the city and looked in my bag. No camera. Pockets? No camera. No no no, not robbed again during Toussaints (if you know what happened last year you know what I'm talking about). Cue string of profanities. We went to some old guys selling bus tickets; they didn't speak English, but after some creative pantomiming combined with the tears forming in my eyes they finally got it. I got back on the bus to Fiesole with a vague idea of where I might have left it while Chelsea stayed behind to see if she could get them to call the bus driver in case it fell out of my pocket there.

Before we left we had sat on a ledge near some bushes, I thought I had left it there, but when I went to look I couldn't find it. I ran up and down the street asking all the store owners if anyone had brought in a camera, but they all said no. Finally, just as I had basically accepted that all my photos of the trip were gone forever, a man on the other side of the street called me over, and I saw him raising my camera above his head. He said something about it being in the grass near the ledge. I could have kissed him, but I settled for saying grazie about 50 million times and then I literally started crying with joy, which was a first for me.

And so, with camera securely in pocket, I made my way back to the hostel.

The famous church in the middle of the square
:( Rude

Tiniest. Coffee. Ever. 

some odd exposition in the middle of the city we accidentally found

The bride two pictures up? It's the most famous one in the city, and on it there are tons of really luxurious jewelry stores. That's it, tons and tons of jewelry.

My camera isn't too great at night, I suggest googling it yourself, but this is from the Piazza Michelangelo 

Inside the church


Roman ruins

The old Roman baths. You know you stank when your government tells you to bathe. 

Always trying to catch up on sleep

Forest :)

We passed by a cemetery where some of the graves were actually on the walls. I suppose they pulled out like a drawer, I had never seen a grave in a wall before. 

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