With these kinds of trips I find you always get a few days where things just aren’t going your way and this was one of those days. We awoke early, checked out of our hotel by 8am and caught our train to Florence. Milan to Florence took 2 hours and we were in first class, which was wonderful. Although I have to say I found all the long distance trains in Italy faultless.
Arriving in Florence was pretty mental. The train station seemed insanely busy, it was much smaller than Milan and everyone just seemed so tightly packed. It was overwhelming. We had a challenge ahead of us too. About a week before we departed I got stressed because our apartment in Florence hadn’t replied to us and so we had no clue how to collect the keys or anything. On top of that we had booked it with a ‘pay on arrival’ situation and I didn’t feel secure that our booking was confirmed. I decided to book a back up apartment. It was difficult because my neccessities included air conditioning, wifi and a washing machine. We couldn’t spend anymore money than we already had as it was only a week before and so our money for the month had been pretty much allocated. In the end I booked an apartment that fulfilled the criteria but I did have to compromise on the location. Sitting in England in the cool air I didn’t think 30 minutes would be that far a walk from the station but the reality was so different.
Coming out the station we faced the hardest 30 minutes of our lives. We transported 45kg of luggage across Florence, dragging because of the cobblestones, in temperatures of 40 degrees, with what seemed like a million tourists around us. We couldn’t even speak to one another because we knew how irritable we were and we knew it was best to just keep our focus on the task in hand. When we arrived at the apartment my face was so red Adam thought I’d been severely sunburnt on the journey and Adam said he was so soaked in sweat even his trainers were wet.
Arriving at the apartment was pure joy. We stayed at ‘The house of the painter in Florence’ which we booked through booking.com. The lady who owned the apartment was very friendly and gave us some postcards and a little wooden duomo as a little welcome gift. The apartment was amazing, we had a mezzanine bedroom, a modern kitchen, a lovely bathroom leading onto the terrace and the whole area was covered in paintings, it was fantastic. We had a skylight above the bed too.
We had showers to refresh ourselves and headed back out again, hoping the heat would be more manageable without our luggage…it wasn’t. I thought a walk into town alongside the river would be nice but it turned out there was a freak tornado in Florence just a few days before our arrival and the area by the river was hit quite hard. There were fallen trees, roof files and rubbish everywhere so it was actually quite difficult to pass through.
We eventually got to town and we headed to Obica, a mozzarella bar. The atmosphere was really nice, we ate inside but there was a lovely outside courtyard. I loved my lunch, I had a large glass of wine, smoked mozzarella, parma ham and fried pizza dough. Adam wasn’t too keen though, he had a mozzarella calzone and the mozzarella was watery and made his dough soggy. I don’t quite think he had recovered from the heat either and didn’t feel great.
Despite our exhaustion at the heat we had prebooked tickets for the duomo, the campanile and the baptistery so continued onto them. However even though we had prebooked tickets though we had to join the queue with everyone else, the queue time…3 hours. Well there was nothing in the world I wanted to see that I would wait 3 hours in the blazing sun for. The campanile was also a 2 hour queue. The baptistery actually had no queue and we walked straight in but it may be because its covered in scaffolding and maybe people didn’t think it was open. The baptistery was beautiful but we didn’t really feel we got our moneys worth.
After getting lost briefly on the way back we struggled back to the apartment. We were pretty exhausted and not in the greatest of moods so we decided to have a night in. We googled the closest supermarket which was a mile down the road and went and picked up a few items. It may have been a bad start to the Florence adventure but as I ended the day sitting on the roof terrace, sipping wine whilst Adam cooked dinner, things were certainly looking up!