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I'm an Aussie who likes wandering all over the world but keeps coming back home to paradise and my family. If you are reading this on one of my travel blogs, I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed creating them. If you are reading the Diabetes and weight loss blog - I hope it helps in your battle with the beast. Cheers, Alan

Friday, October 27, 2006


We spent four nights in Florence, two in 2003 and two more in 2006. I found it a fascinating place. As I mentioned earlier we didn't go to the galleries - we meant to the first time and found that we had arrived on a holiday when everything was closed - and the second time I preferred wandering around the Old City and soaking up the atmosphere and looking at the incredible buildings in the piazzas.

Back in 2003 we arrived late in the afternoon without a booking, ate in a trattoria, then walked around looking for accommodation. It was an interesting lesson in "what not to do" in the top tourist cities of Italy. Pre-booking was essential. The prices being quoted looked like blowing our budget for the week. It was also our first experience of that odd European custom of hotels with reception several floors above the ground floor, sometimes without lifts/elevators. We finally found a hotel that charged only €75 - basic, old, lumpy bed and no lift, no breakfast, and then discovered parking was another €21. When we left and I went to pick up the car we found it had to be pushed out of it's position in the garage by hand, parked so close to the cars beside it that both mirrors had to be pushed back. Three cars had to be moved first. No wasted space in that garage.

On cars - I would love to have one of these to go to the shops in. Later we came across the "Smart Car"; these made those look big.

On the second visit we had learnt our lesson and pre-booked at a B&B
http://www.gigliobianco.it/en-index.htm. The people were lovely, so was the room, breakfast and atmosphere. However, while I'm giving them a plug note that parking isn't free and you need to turn up in daylight to get the nearby carpark or go for a moderately long walk to the alternative, and the room is up the equivalent of two storeys of stairs. No problem if you don't have difficulties with stairs - but a bit of a struggle for Lorraine.

Of course, despite the directions we couldn't find the place - so eventually we parked outside this gate and went to exactly the same Trattoria "Sabatino" that we found the first time around. The food was cheap and delicious (you ordered each item separately - meat, veges etc so I was able to tailor the meal exactly to my needs), the atmosphere friendly and the waiter marked the B&B on our map with directions.

The B&B location was perfect, in the Old City, so we spent the day just wandering.

This street is actually one of the bridges, full of shops for the tourists - and patrolled by these special "Tourist Police". There were lots of them in attendance, all as alert and active as these.
Luckily, we had no need for their services. The second river view shows the covered bridge in the distance.

The one museum I did go into was a very small one displaying models built following the sketches and sometimes detailed instructions of Leonardo da Vinci. What a mind, so far ahead of his time.

This had to be one of the best seafood meals I had on the trip; I know it was in Florence but I'm darned if I can remember the restaurant - just the meal.

As we left in '06, we stopped to have a picnic lunch and soak up the scenery just before we left the hills to descend to the Po delta en-route to Venice. Then this scene unfolded, as though we had stepped back in time to past centuries. A magic moment.

Cheers, Alan

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