Oh my sweet goods guys, Italy is so beautiful!!!
Summer holiday season is upon us and, even though I don’t get set holidays at my current job, I took a week off to visit one of my oldest friends (as in I’ve known her for a long time, not that I’m pals with a granny) who recently moved to Florence. I can’t believe it’s taken me soooo long to visit Italy, but better late than never!
Ryan air flies Bordeaux-Bologna super on the cheap so I hopped a flight and was off, catching the fast train that would then get me to Florence in thirty mins.
It was a warm, beautiful evening when I arrived and the first thing we did was run off to the convent to unload my stuff. Yup, that’s right, during my two book-end nights in Florence I’d be staying in a convent, with nuns and stuff. Italian nuns even. They were super friendly and laughed with us as I tried to understand what they were saying, picking out Italian words that sounded like their French equivalents.
This was my room, not too shabby huh?
Since we would be off to Sienna the next day, we rushed out to do the ‘splores while we still had daylight left. And that’s when I first saw this stunning place! (The Florence Cathedral)
And this bridge thing:
And this “no fish allowed” sign:
And I guess the sunset wasn’t too gross either:
We had pasta for dinner (I got lasagna of course), and sat on one of the many bridges eating gelato in the gloom of the streetlights. As we were walking back to the convent, a little orchestra was playing a free concert in the square which was super cute, we joined the small crowed of tourists to watch their final piece before heading off to bed. It was kinda fun but also a bit spooky hearing the nuns’ prayers/chants wafting through the halls!
The next morning we got up bright and early and caught a bus to Siena. The ride was about an hour and a half and only cost €7.50… France can learn a thing or two on that front!
We weren’t due at our air bnb until 1pm, so we took some time to wander the streets, soaking in the atmosphere of the city that was apparently founded by the sons of Remus (of raised by wolves fame):
Our air bnb host recommended a place for us to get lunch. It’s called La Prosciutteria and does super tasty mixed platters of Italian cheeses and meat. Even though they’re unlicensed as a restaurant, this little sign is somehow enough for them to get around the legal stuff??
We also discovered that there is a church which contains the “venerated head of St Catherine of Siena”. Seriously? A head?? We had to go check it out… surely there wouldn’t be some church with an old head lying about??
GUYS, THERE WAS!
There is actually a little shrine thing all lit up with a window where you can see Catherine’s rather pale shriveled face! Though honestly, for someone who lived in the 13 hundreds, she wasn’t looking too bad. I think it came as a bit of a shock to my friend that we actually found it, so we hurried out as quickly as possible. (There were no photos allowed so I can’t show you, but really, I don’t think I would have felt right taking a photo of poor old Cathy anyway).
That night we gathered with everyone else in one of the squares, sitting on the cobbles and soaking in the last of the evening sun. It was also the night of my first Italian pizza! (sorry I didn’t take any photos, but just imagine some tasty tasty pizza).
The next morning we beat the crowds and went to explore the inside of the Duomo. The interior was absolutely stunning, with stars painted on the ceiling and mosaics on the floor telling the stories of saints and biblical figures. The entrance fee (€7 eeep!) also included the library with all its brightly painted walls and ancient manuscripts illuminated by monks.
The last city in Tuscany that we visited was Pisa. This was on the other end of our Italy adventure and we were pretty worn out by this stage. The blistering heat didn’t help so we were really just in the mindset to get in, see the leaning tower, and get out again. Which is exactly what we did.
This Tuscany part of our holiday was only a small portion of our adventure, and probably the least adventurous of the trip. But it was really great to see some of these famous cities and their iconic landmarks before hiking into the unknown.