We've been puttering around Italy for the duration of this week, taking everything in slowly and with relaxation. It's tropically hot (which was a bit of a surprise!) and, as we've spent so long doing “the tourist thing” this year, we've decided to just do as much as we feel, rather than rush around like headless chickens.
In Florence, we stayed in a lovely Airbnb apartment; however, as lovely as it was, I hadn't factored in how hot it would be (meaning all windows need to be open to be able to exist without sweat pouring from every part of your skin) nor how noisey the road outside would remain throughout the night. We had to move from the stunning front bedroom to the smaller back bedroom just to be able to sleep! It's the first Airbnb place I've reviewed with “would not recommend”…which is a bit of a shame! It's easy to forget that, in order to be close to the sights, you're essentially in the centre of town and so near all the bars etc! Something to always keep in mind.
We had a lovely time wandering around the city, taking in the sights at a leisurely pace, eating a lot, drinking lovely wine and generally relaxing! We went to an amazing restaurant/wine bar called Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina where there is a very small menu which is designed to complement the wines they offer. As you may have noticed, we love wine and we love trying new wines and learning (though, usually, by the end of a wine tasting session, we've forgotten all the info we've been given!) so we were in 7th heaven! The food was incredible and, although we'd ordered the Italian flight of wine, the table next to us recommended a white wine that tastes like a red…so of course we tried that too…and, because we were enthusiastic and interested, our waiter brought us a free sample of a new wine they'd only opened that day! It was delicious! As it should be: it had been maturing for 5 years and, on tasting it at the vineyard, the restaurant owners loved it so much they bought the whole supply! There are only 2500 bottles and they are all there! As you can imagine, we were there at the end, as the boys were trying to close up, and we all bid each other goodbye with cries of “ciao!” and kisses on the cheek for everyone!
As we've found during our time in Italy, the main sights are very sadly over run with tourists. I had so looked forward to showing Florence to Alex but my decade old memories misled me: I didn't remember 5 hour queues to get into the Uffizi or 3 hours to see David (which we didn't manage!). It does make me sad to think that we won't be able to give our children that first experience of the city that I had, when I loved it and was awed by it all! Both Alex and I have visited Rome before but neither of us have ever seen so many thousands of people that throng through every church and museum. Even to the point that, yesterday, there was an apocalyptic thunderstorm (even though I am an atheist, I can understand why people believe in gods when you see and hear natural spectacles like that!) and there was still a queue half way around St Peter's square to get into the basilica!
I love the basilica; it is such an impressive and emotive space and the sculptures there have the solidity and fluidity to both anchor the subjects in our world while also harnessing the huge muscle structures and angelic flowing drapery to envoke a “godly” reaction. Imagine yourself back in that basilica, hundreds of years ago, without any formal education: it would be impossible to believe man alone could create such majesty. Unlike the Sistine chapel which always leaves me a bit deflated (it may be the fact that it is SO well photographed and documented, or the hoards of people pushing past you and talking loudly despite the repeated instruction to remain quiet), the Pieta is something I could look at for hours. Hard to believe Michelangelo was only 23 when he carved it!
Tomorrow, we head down to Sorrento for the final few days of our year of travels! We hope to squeeze in a cooking class, a trip to Capri and (if the weather perks up!) a trip to the blue caves!!