After leaving beautiful Nice, we departed for our next destination; Florence! On the way there we stopped in Pisa, home to the famous leaning tower. Pisa is a very strange place and is heavily reliant on its tourism. As soon as we stepped off the bus we were greeted by hoards of merchants trying to sell us their illegal designer knockoffs. This is not exactly what I would describe as a ‘cultural’ experience, but an interesting one nonetheless.
I was reluctant to take this photo, but kind of felt obliged to. Taking this certified my official tourist status, although let’s be honest, that became certified long ago!
The first of many gelato’s – I went for fruity flavours this time, lemon and mango I think? It was delicious and cheap!
After a few more hours on the bus, we arrived at our campsite in the Tuscan hills. When we were told we’d be staying at a campsite I was a little hesitant, but as it turns out, campsites in Italy are 5 stars. They’re certainly not like our caravan parks in ‘Straya. We stayed in cabins and our camp (I liked to call it a resort) had multiple swimming pools, 2 restaurants and a nightclub (fondly known as ‘The Discotheque’).
We ate dinner at one of the restaurants and started with this lovely bruschetta. Unfortunately, the rest of the meal was downhill from there, we assume they were attempting to appease our westernised appetites, but they did not succeed at all. Give me an authentic Italian meal any day.
Michelle and I
We had drinks with dinner and this particular cocktail was pretty deadly. I think I took about 2 hours to drink it, as I had already had lots of red wine with dinner. A few of us girls decided to do ‘drunk laundry’ so we took our cocktails to go. This was the first night we realised that Europeans like to free pour their spirits so needless to say, we took advantage of this!
My friend Brittany and I forged a strong friendship on this night, in a really beautiful way. It is rare to meet someone you click with so well and I will always remember this night as a groundbreaker for us. While we were doing our laundry we met some young girls staying at the campsite. They were about 10 or 12, and I think they were from Holland. They barely spoke English so we had a hilarious time trying to communicate with them! After what felt like hours of laundry we finally headed over to the Discotheque, where the bouncer almost didn’t let us in, saying we were underage. It was the oddest experience, but luckily we exchanged stern words with him and he let us in. We had a pretty big night and met lots of Europeans who, like our laundry friends, could not speak English very well. What I learnt about myself this night is that when I’m a little bit tipsy and talking to someone from another country, I like to put on a fake French accent and say my words very slowly… WHO AM I!?
The next day most of us were in pretty rough shape and a select few of us ended up missing the bus into Florence – we were staying at the campsite another night so we weren’t stranded – but I was pretty pissed off about missing our ride. Even though I was under-slept and very exhausted (NOT hungover..) I was fully intending on going. Unfortunately, somebody disabled our alarm, so I was very surprised when I woke up at 11am! Most of the group that stayed behind were quite happy to spend the day by the pool, but after a relaxing half day of swimming and eating, myself, Katie and Michelle decided to find our own way into Florence. We took a taxi to the train station and found our way there in about an hour on the train. There was no way I was missing out on Florence!
Florence is so beautiful that no pictures can do it justice – like most of the places we visited, really.
This bag salesman was very friendly, but not friendly enough to convince us to buy anything!
This artwork was so cool, I think I would’ve been very tempted if I didn’t have to pack it away in a suitcase.
We found a dingy little restaurant to eat it and were literally the only ones there. This tasting plate was pretty good, once I had a taste of real Italian bruschetta, it’s all I wanted!
Luckily we didn’t have to make our own way home, as our tour bus had arranged to pick us up at 9pm. We headed down to the water and watched the sunset while we waited.
Ah Florence, what a magical place.
For more of this series, click here.