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Published: December 10th 2007
Largest Gothic Cathedral in the world
An interesting journey
While Mick had to stay behind and go to work, I got organised and flew to Amsterdam, only to find that, due to a delay in my flight from Cardiff, I’d missed my connecting flight. I ended up spending the night at a hotel outside Amsterdam without my luggage before an early flight to Milan. I was really looking forward to getting my stuff and changing my clothes but, alas, my bag did not make it! I spent a few hours in Milan checking out the very glamorous locals, and the amazing Cathedral, before catching the train to meet up with Jen in Florence.
I met up with Jen and it was great to catch up with her. She lent me a fresh singlet and after a shower I felt a lot better. We had a quick tour around the city and the beautiful Duomo before searching out a drink. We found a nice bar with a snack buffet and then a local restaurant where we enjoyed a nice meal and some more wine. We decided to check out a bar recommended by the waiter, got lost, and then luckily
he rode by on his scooter and showed us the way. The next morning we were feeling very sorry for ourselves after our late night and missed our tour of the Uffizi museum. My bag had still not arrived so we did some quick shopping for some essentials and wandered around town before catching a bus to Siena.
We were both exhausted and hungry when we arrived and after finding our accommodation we grabbed a massive slice of pizza each at a local hole-in-the-wall place. We then spent the afternoon in the Il Campo, home of the in/famous Il Palio horse race, where the locals race horses at breakneck speed around the piazza. It’s also a great place to chill out for an afternoon and watch the crowds roll by. Siena was quieter at night with fewer tourists and we had a nice dinner after a sunset drink on the piazza.
The next day we met for a coffee and pastry breakfast at a little café before some more emergency shopping as my bag was still MIA. We caught the bus later to the classic Tuscan village of San Gimignano with huge towers built
Jen chilling out in the hillside village
by competing families to showcase their wealth. We had lunch at a restaurant with great views and checked out the Duomo with amazing paintings all over the interior. While we were in there an Italian couple had a “disagreement” with the security people cause they kept taking photos which was banned. There was lots of close talking! We indulged ourselves with pistachio and vino ice-cream and local wine tasting before heading back to Siena.
We had another Italian breakfast the next morning, complete with an espresso, explored a bit more of Siena and did some more shopping. In the afternoon we had a tour of the famous Chianti wine region. We visited some hilltop towns, including one that has only 11 or so permanent residents, before visiting a winery where we had a tour of the cellar before trying some wine and grappa. I think we both still prefer Australian wines though! We had a great meal that night before checking out a bar where the very cool locals spilled out onto the street.
I heard from the airline to say my bag was on the way to Siena right as we were heading
out the door to catch the bus to Arezzo for our train to Rome. After arranging for them to send it on to Rome we headed off for an uneventful journey. We found our hostel then began exploring. We walked past amazing buildings, a great view of the Vatican at sunset, the fantastic Trevi fountain, churches, and numerous ruins on our way to the Trevestere district where we followed the locals to a trattoria for a great meal.
On the next day we got up early and caught the tourist bus down Via Nationale and got off at the massive Palazzo Venezia and walked down to the Colosseum. It was amazing to be standing next to such an iconic landmark. We then walked through the Roman Forum, the ruins of the ancient centre of Roman life, including the spot where Julius Caesar was cremated. Our next stop was the ancient Pantheon which didn’t look like much from the outside but is an impressive feat of architecture on the inside. We got back on the bus and we were glad for a rest as we drove across the river and into the Vatican City where we got a great view
of St Peters Basilica. Our next stop off the bus was back on the other side of the river and we walked up to the city gate then fought through the crowds on the Spanish Steps. By now we were exhausted and stopped off for some tiramisu and truffle in a little café before finding the bus again. Later in the evening we did a whirl around on the bus to see all the sights lit up at night and threw a coin in the Trevi to ensure our return to Rome. We then grabbed some dinner at a very friendly local restaurant where the waiter was very intent on keeping us there for the local band that came on at 11pm.
Jen was up early the next morning for a trip to the Vatican but I decided to wait until Mick and I come back to Rome and instead spent the morning shopping up big as my bag had still not managed to find it's way. I met Jen for coffee then we found some lunch and did some last sightseeing before Jen caught her train to Sorrento. I had a quiet night that night and didn't do
much before my flight to Amsterdam. I had plenty of time to check out the airport and it's museum as my plane was very delayed. I was very glad to finally arrive and see Mick, although the cold weather was quite a shock.
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