To be honest, I didn't love Florence. There may be cities that manage to cram in more tourists per square centimetre but I've not experienced them. And, I swear, Florence has more katakana than I've seen anywhere in the world... and I lived in Japan!
After being in Naples and then Rome, the first thing I noticed when I arrived in Florence was all these people standing around at intersections. It made me wonder what the hell was going on, then it dawned on me that they were waiting for the pedestrian lights to change! You don't get that in Naples, that's for sure.
And wow, Florence is a rich city. I walked from the station to my apartment and the most of the way was through streets lined with designer stores. And the city is so clean!
My apartment was in Oltrarno which is Italian for across the Arno where all the annoying tourists aren't. I am so glad I stayed in this area because otherwise I'd probably be rotting in an Italian jail on murder charges.
Again with the AirBnB, this apartment cost a bit more than my normal budget (I think it was around $60 a night) but so worth it. The absolute best thing about the apartment, apart from being away from tourists was that the host's parents ran a trattoria next door and it had the best food -- and even better desserts. I had dinner there one night then called in just for dessert the next night.
OMG, I have no idea what this Florentine dessert is called but it is so good. Actually, thinking about the super delicious dessert, Florence wasn't that bad. In fact, it was kinda awesome.
This is a lousy photo but this guy had walls of sponge cake with some kind of liqueur soaked into the edges. The inside is a layer of custardy stuff and one of dark, bitter chocolate. Trust me, it was so good. Most of the sweetness seemed to come from the liqueur rather than the chocolate or custard so it wasn't sickly sweet, more an artful arrangement of incredible flavours.
This guy is a similar thing but with different flavours. It was super good but the first one was better -- mainly because I love dark chocolate.
Anyway, I did other stuff in Florence. First up, I cross the Ponte Vecchio which is a bridge full of tourists and jewellry stores. I'm not a fan of jewellery especially gold jewellery so pretty much the whole bridge thing annoyed me, especially since I was just trying to get to the other side and not be tourist.
I probably whinge a lot about tourists, and I know that I was one, but it's not so much the tourist factor, it's that they are so freaken oblivious. How do some of these people even survive? I assume they are like it in their everyday lives as well. Just simple things, like if you are walking down a crowded street and you need to check your map, move off to one side out of the way instead of coming to a halt on the footpath.
After dealing with the crush, I made it to the Uffizi. I had a skip the line voucher, which meant I had to go line up to get it exchanged to a ticket. So much for skip the line. I finally got to the counter and the girl manually, with handwriting, copied the details from voucher into a docket book with carbon paper. OMG! I am not kidding. I felt like I was back in Japan. I mean, this has to be the busiest art gallery in Italy, maybe one of the busiest in the world and they have a system like this? Nice work, Florence.
Then only two more lines and a metal detector and I was in the gallery. Okay, this is where I nearly got into a punch up with some American tourists because I decided, after their fourth attempt at a selfie in front of one of the paintings, I'd just barge through. Fuck you, American tourists. If you are going to try to take a selfie in a super busy art gallery, you don't get multiple attempts. Other people in this world want to see The Birth of Venus, you knobs.
The whole gallery pretty much gave me the shits. I don't know why people think their need to take a photo takes precedence of someone just wanting to look at the art with their eyes. I don't know why you would even want to take shitty photos of great art. Do people need some proof that they have seen a painting even when they don't actually look at it, just photograph it?
So, just to amuse myself, I only took photos of paintings of breast feeding Jesus. After a few rooms of art, I needed the cafe. You'd think it'd be bad for the art having the building so inadequately air conditioned but it did make me appreciate my beer more.
That was enough art for me. I realised that I don't really like seeing art in galleries. It's weird.
So, I went to a wine bar and confirmed my opinion that cheeses>jesus. I can't remember the name of the wine bar but that cheese plate had some of the best cheese I'd ever tasted in my life. If you could legally marry cheese, we'd have been wed that night.
The next day, I wandered around the city, checking out the Duomo - I didn't go in because the line was ridiculously long, then I went to the library. Florence has one of the greatest libraries in the world. I'm not sure what their books are like but you can sit around on the covered terraces with a coffee or a wine, smoking a cigarette and reading your book. If I was a student in Florence, I'd be so motivated to study there.
Somewhere along the way, I popped into a shoe shop and got to watch nuns buy shoes. I don't know that seemed so strange to me. I mean, nuns need shoes like everyone else but you just don't think of them doing everyday things like that. I also got to try lots of gelato - including one shop where the girl was making up the cones herself.
Next up, in Kathryn's fun holiday adventures, I went to the laundrymat. That involved wacky times with the guy in the shop next door where I needed to buy tokens for the machine but didn't know or understand the Italian word for token. Fun times. Since I had no partner to make laundry fun, I went for a walk around the neighbourhood then headed across the street to a little bar and had a beer in the leafy courtyard out the back. Man, I drank a lot of beer in Italy for someone who rarely drinks beer. I think it was the heat.
That night, I went to a snotty little bar for aperitivo then a place with an old dude singing Johnny Cash songs. And more of that awesome dessert cake.
The next day, I went on a tour of Tuscany but I'll post that later.