A Travellerspoint blog

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Day 3 - May 30th 2009

sunny 20 °C

Booking. After mastering the train system in France, we practically had to start all over again in Italy. Off to the train station to get our Tuscany tickets sorted. Brilliant, the lines here are bigger than in France and queue jumpers are in great numbers. I was asked a number of times if I minded someone jumping ahead of me. “No, not at all mate but I think the hundreds of people behind me might. Back of the line!”

Lunch. Best Carbonara we have tasted. No cream in Italy just oil and egg. Yum. Much more to look forward to, as apparently the Carbonara in Rome is to die for. Our third pasta in a number of meals. Watch those kilos start making their way back.

Shopping. Much more accommodating to the males in Milan, that is if you are looking to spend less that a week’s wage per garment. This frustrated Vic. I got some business shirts, a jacket and a few Tees for an absolute steal. Vicki bought a nice outfit and a few bits and pieces but had to pay a bit more. The stuff she bought is pretty cool though and brands we have not seen in Oz. That temporarily satisfied her hunger… the beast will rise again.


Dinner. We ate at the same place. We liked the godfather and his tomatoes so much that we had to eat there again. Not to mention it was very convenient and close to the hotel. We went for Gnocchi and a bean and pasta dish (forget the name) and of course the salad. The godfather embraced me like his son as we were leaving. I had a few wines the night before and was toying with him a little using the Italian pocket book Shaun gave us (Thanks Shauny)… I think he liked my cheeky ways. I certainly liked him. Mr Cool.


Late Night. The guy at the hotel, Fulvio was the same guy that originally checked us in and he was working the night shift. Really nice guy. We enjoyed his company so much that we stayed up until 0330 talking and laughing. He had a great sense of humour and we got along really well. We drank some wine and some Grappa before finally pulling the plug close to 0400 despite having to get up at 0800 that very morning. Thanks for helping us with the Tuscany research, Fulvio and for a very enjoyable night/morning. Great way to end our stay in Milano.


Posted by samandvic 08:22 Archived in Italy Comments (0)


Day 1 - May 31st 2009

rain 18 °C

Train. We caught the train from Milano to Firenza (Florence) at about 1100 and arrived just after lunchtime. We met a Milanese Lawyer who was travelling to Rome on the same train. Very jovial guy and like most Italians, animated with his speech. We got to talking about our trip, where we had been and what we enjoyed. We couldn’t help but mention the attitude of the Parisians. He loved that and had many of his own stories to share. He closed off the discussion by apologising on behalf of the European community for the behaviour of the French! Really quite hilarious. After exhausting travel talk, we moved on to food. A topic close to our hearts and obviously rather close to his. His wife even gave him a silent lecture about his excitable state. I recognised the body language. Vicki does the same thing to me! She spoke very little English but her warm smile contributed to the flow of discussion. Soon enough we were writing down all of his favourite dishes and where in Italy to eat them. Great advice and thanks for the tips, Andrea.


Blow out. Shortly after disembarking the train, I realised our luggage felt heavy. The suitcase was dragging on the floor. One of the wheels had buckled. Great, just what we needed. It was raining in Florence which helped the suitcase glide along the footpath but it made hard work of what should have been a simple exercise.

Florence. Another beautiful city. Similar to Avignon in character and charm but again full of designer shops in the city centre. We were exhausted from the late night and a nice hearty meal was just what we needed.


Ferrari. Florence has a Ferrari store in the main strip. Geez the Italians are proud of Ferrari. Why wouldn’t they be? There was a real F1 car in the shop window, the 2003 Championship car to be precise and they sold everything from underwear to remote control replicas. Impressive. I’m sure they are rallying for one in Lygon St.


Dinner. Trattoria please. The food in Trattorias is wholesome and they have a real homely feel as opposed to a restaurant which is really just a Restaurant. Normally family run with one of the elders assigned the head chef duties. Again we weren’t disappointed. The tomatoes weren’t as good as Milan but we should really try to get past that now. The pasta was great. We’ll try to eat something other than Pasta soon but no guarantees. It’s just so bloody good!


Exhausted. After that long last night in Milan, we were buggered. Back to the hotel for some blogging time and some long overdue rest. Vicki was up until 0230 sorting and uploading the photos (not sure how) and it was lights out for me at about 2100.


Posted by samandvic 09:47 Archived in Italy Comments (1)


Day 2 - June 1st 2009

rain 17 °C

Bum day. After a good sleep, we awoke to the sound of rain. The breakfast buffet had all the eggs, meats, cereals, fruits and cheeses you could ask for so we gorged and went back to the room. We decided that a recovery day was the appropriate remedy for our weary heads and spent most of the afternoon on the net (we’re finally up to date with our blog!!) and other general organisational stuff including an essential trip to the Laundromat.


Dinner. We again headed to a local Trattoria. This one was full of locals and came highly recommended by pedestrians occupying the sidewalk outside. Two courses of tasty, home style, Italian food. No surprises. We ate pasta but only for entrée! Swordfish and chicken for mains, I think Dr Atkins was a little happier with our secondary choice. There is no denying, the food in Italy is superb.


Local Friends. The couple sitting next to us were just as impressed with the waiter’s multi-lingual prowess. He spoke in Italian, English and French to three successive groups of patrons. This paved the way for some small talk. The couple (Lorenzo and Domenica) were really lovely and resided in Florence. We were corrected when we referred to them as Italian. Firenzian if you don’t mind. Domenica gave us her address and requested that we send her a postcard from Melbourne. Consider it done, Domenica but it may be a few weeks away! Lorenzo handed us a business card for his son’s Indie-Rock band, what a proud fatherly gesture. Upon arriving back to the hotel we jumped on the band's website and had a listen to the promo clip... very cool!


All the best to your boy. Very nice meeting you both.

Posted by samandvic 14:31 Archived in Italy Comments (3)


Day 1 - June 2nd 2009

sunny 28 °C

Hop to it. A ‘big’ day planned to make up for the ‘bum’ day yesterday. The rain had finally stopped. There was no remaining evidence of anything falling from the sky. Dry and sunny with temperatures exceeding 30 degrees. A tummy full of food and we were ready to board our train at 0900.

Train. The rural trains are not as pretty nor anywhere near as comfortable as the Eurostar or French TGV but they got us where we needed to go. This one didn’t even have a First class cabin! We were really slumming. It didn’t seem to bother Vicki that much. Remember Vicki’s train related narcolepsy? Well, it is now so fine-tuned that she was off with the fairies four minutes PRIOR to departure. I get a little lonely now. Selfish bitch.

Nosey. We overheard a group of Americans discussing their intention to skip Pisa. Apparently, there wasn’t anything to see other than the tower so they didn’t deem it visit worthy. They also didn’t sound too bright so we ignored their indirect advice. Very glad we did.

Pisa. It is a small place and in recent times only famous for the obvious however it had a real something that we couldn’t quite put our finger on. As in most of Europe, the cobblestone was standard, the streets were lined with beautiful houses and old buildings and a river ran through the heart but it had something the others didn’t. Maybe it was just our connecting with humble little Pisa but whatever it was, we loved it.


Torre di Pisa. The first time our eyes hit it, they literally glazed over. Overwhelming. Maybe I watched a little too much tele as a boy because my first thought was ‘wow’ and my second was an image of Daffy Duck attempting to keep it upright through the night. Sad I know but I am still picturing it.



TAB. Not sure what they call it here but when I walked in, there was a little Italian Shaun in the corner giving an up and coming punter some advice. I didn’t get a chance to place a bet but it is on the agenda for Rome (and probably various other cities)

Pizza in Pisa. C’mon, what else would you eat?


Posted by samandvic 15:30 Archived in Italy Comments (0)


Day 3 - June 2nd 2009

sunny 30 °C

Florence. After spending the previous day indoors and the first part of today in Pisa, we finally had some time to explore Florence properly. The first stop on any Florence agenda is to visit probably the most famous sculpture in the western world…

Michelangelo’s David. Entering the museum, we were as were most people, excited to see the statue we’d heard so much about. Never for a moment did I think a statue could bring a tear to my eye unless I stubbed my toe on it. What a glorious sight. It was huge! We didn’t imagine it being this big and understood very quickly why David, carved out of a single piece of marble, was afforded such attention. It must have stood 20 foot tall (including stand). Within an instant of seeing it, I impulsively reached for my camera before having sufficient opportunity to bathe in appreciation (why are we programmed like that?). “No Photo!” “Piss off, lady. I’m having a moment here.” A few sneaky Paparazzi moves and the image I so wanted to capture was captured. Not bad either considering they were all shot from the hip.


Duomo. Florence, like most Italian cities had it’s own spectacular Duomo and again the Gothic styling dominated the architecture.

Sketch. Vicki convinced me to have a caricature done with one of the local artists. It looked nothing like me but Vic and the artist seemed to think it did.


Ponte Vecchio. Shaun had mentioned that it was one of his favourite European landmarks prior to our departure and we could now see why. It was an ordinary bridge in terms of getting you to the other side of the river but extraordinary in the way the length of it was lined with jewellery stores protruding over the water. These stores were originally butchers but that later changed when the cry of socialism expelled the smelly butchers and replaced them with goldsmiths. I guess the theme stuck.


Walk. The area surrounding Ponte Vecchio was peaceful and inviting. We thankfully just missed the influx of foreigners that flood into the area during the Spring and Summer. At times, we felt we were the only people around. Very strange considering the millions that visit each year. We soaked up some more of the main attractions and headed back to the hotel.


Dinner. I make no apologies for writing about our meals. A quick session at the gym before again targeting a local Trattoria. For the first time in Italy, we didn’t eat pasta. Vic had a huge pork chop (Jay, you would have inhaled it) and I went for one of Andrea’s recommendations, Ribollita. I can’t remember a time when I ate an entire bowl of soup with a fork! Glad I didn’t order too much else. I won’t need a fork when I hit Budapest either. Strap the Goulash to my head please waiter, I’ll manage with only my face.


Running water. For the second consecutive day I thought of keeping the water running overnight to make up for all the Italians back in Oz that still hose down their driveways! Two wrongs don’t make a right but enough is enough, amici.

Posted by samandvic 15:37 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

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