When we caught the train from Venice to Florence, we remembered to book seat. We weren’t keen on replaying that uncomfortable train ride we first had into Italy! We arrived and went to our Airbnb accommodation. No one was there and we proceeded to press every possible button on the doorbell, hoping we would annoy someone enough so that they would help us find Maria’s place.
Eventually a Columbian man, who Maria our Airbnb host told to open for us when we arrived, looked out his window and saw the two lost looking South Africans he was meant to open up for. He couldn’t speak a word of English, and we couldn’t speak a word of Italian or Spanish. It was the most frustrating and yet entertaining thing trying to get what you wanted to say or know across. Somehow, with the use of Google translate on Kim’s Ipad, elaborate hand gestures and charades we managed to defuse a very awkward language barrier moment and discovered that Maria would be back later and that she spoke a little bit of English.
We put our bags down and set out to go find the Statue of David. We walked past this building which is covered in bank notes. I don’t know how many bills were printed and painstakingly glued onto the walls row for row…but whoever did that must have been pretty OCD!
We eventually found the Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze where the Statue of David is kept. We waited in an extremely long queue, paid our 11 Euro and went to see the masterpiece that Michaelangelo crafted out of one single piece of marble. And it truly was a masterpiece! I studied the statue in art history and have always been an admirer of Renaissance art and architecture. It is HUGE! So much bigger than I ever imagined, and the detail in the sculpting is just awe inspiring! Who would have thought that this beauty was lying within a piece of rock?! I must admit, I was an illegal eagle and took a sneaky photo of it before we left to venture further into the city.
It was blistering hot and the old feet were starting to become rather fat and swollen. Having bought an ice cold cool drink we looked for a spot of shade we could rest in. We then stumbled upon the square outside Palazzo Vecchio, that has a collection of really amazing statues and decided to perch ourselves here. No sooner had I sat down and taken a sip of my amazing refreshment when an Italian official told me I was not allowed to drink it. “ONLY water! WATER only!” (read this in an Italian accent it sounds more dramatic!) Disgruntled I put my cold ice tea down and took up drinking my warm water whilst resting my blistered feet on my shoes. The first gulp of luke warm water wasn’t even down my gullet when the lady returned and shouted at me again, saying: “NO Barefoot!” I clearly wasn’t going to win, so we pushed off to somewhere where we could drink our cool drinks in peace and rest my fat kankles!
Wherever we went we would see these caricature artists scribbling on their sketch pads…where some lacked in talent they made up with imagination!
Walking around in the streets of Florence we became acutely aware of the distinct classes. On one hand you have the very poor who try to scrape together a living by selling their art or by begging, and on the other you have the opulent rich, buying only the best designer wear and staying in the most indulgent hotels.
After walking around Florence the whole day, my kankles were starting to hurt excessively so we headed back to Maria’s place. I iced my feet, took strong pain killers and tried to sleep. Kim, whilst I was passed out like a narcoleptic rat, being the amazing and thoughtful humanoid that she is, went to find a grocery store to buy supper and some cool surprises for later that evening! I awoke to Maria and her friends getting ready for a party. It sounded so festive and fun with the latin music playing! I don’t know if I was still under the effect of the painkillers but I heard Kim speaking Spanish! She was in the kitchen with Maria and her friends, and what I assumed to be her new friend, Google translate.
We left the friendly Columbians to their party and walked across town, to the Michelangelo Plaza to watch the sunset over Florence. My adorable friend had made some yummy pasta with parmesan cheese and as a surprise got us some lemon sorbet- which unfortunately, due to the heat and a long time spent perusing leather stores, had melted. The wine was good though and the sunset incredible! We sat there for a really long time and talked absolute nonsense before heading back through the really busy streets of Firenze. That night we slept “kop and potjie”, because the double bed was well…a single.
The next morning we left for La Spetzia which would take us to Cinque Terre. (To view images of Cinque terre please click here.)
Travelling Tips for Florence:
1. If you need accommodation try using Airbnb.com. Hopefully you’ll also have friendly hosts like Maria and her friends! Make sure you are staying close to the places you are wanting to see- otherwise you are going to walk one heck of a long way!
2. I cannot stress this enough…wear comfy shoes! In other words….wear takkies or hush puppies or some sort of orthopedic shoe in order to avoid kankles.
3. Go up to the Michelangelo plaza and view the sunset from there- it is so beautiful, and definitely the best view of Florence! Good food, a bottle of wine and a best friend are sure to make this experience unforgettable!