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Published: September 21st 2010
On arrival in Florence the afternoon sun was hot. Didn't have the best time because it took me a while to get my bearings and find out how to get to my hostel and on which side of the road to get the bus. When I finally got on the right bus, I hadn't purchased a ticket and....on comes the ticket inspector! I hadn't seen ONE inspector in Venice or Verona and was starting to think it was ridiculously easy to get away with not paying for italian public transport. Got my first fine in Florence (oh yes - there were 2 fines all in all) for 50 euros (would have been 45 if I had the cash on me there and then). Somewhat pissed off. Not a great first impression of Florence. But hey if I wasn't so arrogant and flounted the rules in this foreign country, I would have been OK.
Arrived at the hostel and was pleased with it. It's a converted convent and it has a lift, a large outdoor area and nice showers, and relatively nice dorms compared with what I had in Venice. The interior was spacious, and it was 12 euros for dinner
and breakfast. I made my first friends in Italy - two nice girls called Bean and Amy. Dinner was amazing! So generous - bruscetta starter, lasagne first course (primi), mixed grill second and tiramisu for desert! I was completely stuffed and slept well.
Woke the following day with a fair number of mosquito bites. Why didn't it occur to me that there might be mosquitos here? After breakfast of toast, me, Amy and Bean headed to the centre by train. I was crapping myself because of the fine I got yesterday and I didn't bother buying a ticket for the train because it was a one minute journey to the main station! Amy and Bean persuaded me that the ticket inspector wouldn't come round, and he didn't of course!
We had a wonderful day just meandering round Florence aimlessly, looking at the shops and sights such as Piazza della Signoria, the River Arno and the Ponte Vecchio etc. We were awestruck when the stunning Duomo emerged between a narrow street it almost didn't look real! Like a cardboard cutout, but stunning all the same. We were getting hungry and walked for what seemed like forever trying to find
somewhere, and we thankfully stumbled across a food market building in which a small restaurant full of locals (AND NO TOURISTS!) sat. It was a fantastically chaotic, busy and real Italian little place. The waiting staff and chefs were working happily and busily in true italian style. I had the lasagne, and we shared white wine, and were given free desert. It was so cheap! Off the tourist radar which was great. Plus we got there just in time before it closed for siesta. Really lucky as everywhere else seemed to have already closed which is why we carried on...and found this place. We went round various markets getting tempted by various items but we were all keeping the purse strings tied tightly to be honest. We went up to the Piazza Michaelangelo and OMG how beautiful were the views! It's like looking at a massive postcard! The sun was shining down on us through a bright blue sky and it was truly wonderful (see pics).
The following day I said goodbye to the girls and headed back into town. My original plan for today was to do a bike tour of the Chianti reason which would have been
bit expensive for me so I took a picture to remember it by
great, but the fine(s) put me off paying for it. This time I got a ticket for the bus! What could go wrong? Oh - not validating the fucker. On comes the ticket inspector and BAM another 45 euro fine. Not at all happy. First place I went was Piazza Michaelangelo and it was another gorgeous day. I wondered around by myself and went to see the most famous sculpture in the world: Michaelangelo's David at The Accademia Gallery. Scored a picture which I was happy about and then promptly got told off for taking the pic, but I got it and that's all that matters 😊 Also got in half price for being an EU citizen! Nice! Went into the Duomo too, and I felt so so tiny it was frickin huge!
I love the way Italians are so blunt. At a market I decided against buying something and the guy reacted angrily with 'I cannot believe you!' and in another guy's shop, I didn't buy anything (mainly because he annoyingly kept following me round) and he tried to give me his business card on leaving. As I was about to begrudgingly take it he said snootily 'no
maybe I keep this. Ciao.' Hehe.
Lessons learnt thus far: always buy and validate tickets for public transport, maybe not in Venice and Verona necessarily, but absolutely definitely in Florence!! Don't stick to the tried and tested routes - allow yourself to get lost in order to find places that are the most interesting and you will probably never find them again.
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