Published: August 7th 2012June 26th 2012
Florence via Orvietto with busabout
I felt like today was the beginning of my next big adventure, not that the previous three months haven't been an incredible adventure, but the original reason for coming to Europe was to do a fashion design course in Florence, and today, I am finally on my way there! I can hardly wait! I am super excited but also nervous, are my expectaions too high? Am I hoping for too much? Are we there yet?!
Luckily I had the beautiful Haley as my busabout guide, she seems to pop up frequently on my loops and she is so much fun, I am glad to be sharing it with someone I have gotten to know a little. Our first stop was Orvietto, a bonus stop on the trip to Florence, I didn't even remember it being on the trip until Kyle raved about it in Barcelona. A tiny part of me just wanted to get to Florence already but I managed to kick that in the butt when I saw we had to catch a venicular up to the town which was on top of a mountain! Cute! Something about veniculars pulls me in...I am
not sure if it is the word or the monorail like experience. Secret random fact, I like monorails. The view of the valley was so beautiful, olives, wines, farms...I am also a farm girl at heart so getting back to the grass roots and seeing quaint small towns is my kind of fun (not all the time, beaches are also a hot spot since living so close in Townsville). We all treked up the steep hill to the top to see an incredibly huge black and white striped church. It should have been out of place compared with the size of the town but perhaps the feeling that it had been there for eons allowed it to 'fit'.
I was feeling hungry so I scoped out with Haley the best place to get breakie and ended up crashing her party of one to chat and catch up. Only an hour left to explore so I headed out to follow my nose (or spidy senses according to the muskateers Anna and Jen), found the top of the hill the town was built on, then a funky art gallery and the world's cutest woodworking and toy shop. I am fairly certain
my photos wont do this place justice, I could have sat inside with the wonderful works of art, had a cup of tea and read my book for hours, it just felt homely. So then I realised I was late...whoops, I raced back down the hill but a local bakery called to me and I stopped very quickly for biscuits before continuing down the hill to the venicular. I was just in time and the biccies complemented my reading on the bus just perfectly!
A quick stop in Sienna to drop off / pick up busabouters and we were finally on the home stretch to Florence! I had decided to be a tourist until I got my apartment 3 nights later, whereupon I would instantaneously become a local. Haha...yep crazy expectations already. Florence started with a great walking tour that pointed out all the main sights of the city and gave us a good orientation of where to explore further. We then had a leather demonstration and checked out the leather works before heading to 'The Red Baron' for dinner and kareoke. Dinner was delicious, dessert was amazing, singing from the contiki, top deck and various other Australians....entertaining?! Haha My new gang of Toby, Emma, Manuel and Jana decided we would see what the locals were up to instead. We headed to Piazale Signoria to see the art works in finer details as Jana was studying art history and was a most excellent guide. There was a busker or two in the square so we sat and listened, chilled out and chatted for a few hours before making the trek back to our hostels.
The following day we all met at the Duomo (where I ran into Rachael from San Sebastian) before grabbing groceries for a delightful picnic lunch in the local park. Soon enough the pigeons descended and we watched as the much more clever sparrows managed to get everything the pigeons failed to notice. Our next stop was the church of Santa Croce. Art guide, Jana, again outshone herself with interesting anecdotes that made the visit much more interesting. We also found another leatherworks out the back so Jana and I bought matching bracelets. My favourite room was completly empty, save for some astronomy details and a few frescos, but it had excellent echos. We all sat inside to make weird and wonderful noises for a while before wandering back out to the streets of Florence to see the Ponte Vechio and eat cheap pizza sitting on the steps overlooking the river.
We continued exploring out to Santo Spirito and then onto Santa Maria Novella via some amazing street art, markets and a spot of shopping as my SD card had run out again. The evening was spent back in the hostel playing card gamea and in typically Italian style, eating pizza and watching the soccer. The following day I had to move hostels and luckily had managed to snag the same one as Rachael, her cousin Anna and partner Matt. We spent the morning at the Duomo seeing the inside of the church and then wandering the streets exploring the nooks and cranies left unexplored from the previous day and checking out the shops. In the evening we all found a local watering hole and sat on the cobble stones to watch the Italy vs someone else soccer game (come on, I was at least paying attention to Italy!). It was definately a great experience as they truely get riled up when they score a goal or the ref makes an 'unsatisfactory' judgement. I can confirm even the locals put their t-shirts over their heads and run around!
The following day I had my orientation at fashion design school (but I will leave all fashiony news for a seperate blog as I know not everyone will want to read that one). However I did meet Davina and Agne! We hung out that night as busabouters and Rachael, Anna and Matt had moved on. Davina, Agne and I went out for gelato, found a free music concert and then had a cocktail back at the kareoke bar. I also managed to get into my unit! My new home for a whole month! It doesn't seem very long until you don't stay in once place longer than 3 nights in 3 months. I revelled in home cooked spagetti bolognese, bruchetta, eggs on toast, vegemite on toast, fresh cold milk, drinking tea, caprese salads and banana pancakes every weekend. Heaven is sometimes in the tiniest of details.
My first weekend was spent out having a crazy night with Davina, Agne and her new friend Crystabell. We had cocktails at one bar, caught a taxi up to piazalle Michelangelo to check out a local bar called Flo. The lines were huge but Crystabel ended up knowing a guy at the entrance who got us in to an exclusive area and proceeded to buy us 3 bottles of wine (there was 6 of us). Only catch? The guys were definately over 40, rotund, and definately not interested in our intellect. Agne, Rana and I felt decidedly uncomfortable dancing near these guys as they attempted to make passes at us so we left early and went home in a taxi after seeing the beautiful view of Florence at night from this spectacular spot.
My last night before my parents arrived was spent meeting the amazing Kyle, Liam, Melanie and Matt Hemmett! A family who's amazing boys I used to teach back in Townsville. I was super excited to see friends from home and we met at the beautiful Duomo before I took them on a mini tour of my favourite spots in town. We had dinner at the base of the Pitti Palace and caught up on travel and school news while exchanging various adventures from Europe experiences to news from the Ville. I shared my knowledge of best and cheapest gelato shop before we went wandering to Piazale Signoria to hear the buskers before heading off to bed. It was so amazing to see folks from home. I have most definately missed my students but it was amazing to break my journey by seeing them and their beautiful parents so far from home.