It turns out that a week in Florence in the middle of summer is probably a few days too long…
The day before we flew back to London I texted one of my friends and said, “We’re heading back to London tomorrow. Thank God. It’s too hot, there’s too much pasta, I’m drinking too much. I think a week in Florence is too long.”
Needless to say, her response wasn’t particularly sympathetic. “Girl, are you complaining about too much time eating pasta and drinking wine in one of the most beautiful towns in Italy?”
Yeah, fair point.
So, Nick and I flew out with Nick’s parents on the day of the Brexit referendum, which was excellent timing as it turned out as we were spared the blanket media coverage on the results. Actually, that’s not quite true: the Italian media was in hysterics and all our friends in Florence were either in shock or congratulating us on leaving the EU. So there was a lot of interest in the results, and every time we went out we were all downloading the latest news headlines. But at least I could tune out of the news, since it was in a language I struggle to understand at the best of times- not that you needed a comprehensive knowledge of Italian to understand the large illustration in the background of a row of dominos, each with a different EU flag, being slowly toppled one by one. A very popular image, that one!
However, we drowned our sorrows with plenty of wine, beer, prosecco and limoncello. That seemed to help.
Nick’s father is originally from Florence, and Nick has been visiting Florence since he was a child. So we’re pretty familiar with this charming corner of Italy. We wandered around, soaking in the sights, elbowing the hoards of tourists out the way and trying to keep out of the baking hot sun. We visited the famous leather market and the adjoining food market, strolled through Piazza della Signoria, admired the copy of David (the real David requires several hours standing in a line, which… no), and squeezed our way through the crowds on the Ponte Vecchio. Most evenings we retired to a bar on the riverbank for an Aperol spritz or a beer, before heading out to stuff our faces with pasta and pizza. We learned early on that there was no real need to have a three course for lunch and dinner so we took to eating a salad at home during the day, and dining out in the evening.
However, much of our time was spent rotating through the four restaurants owned by friends of Gwen and Marco, one of which is handily situated only 50 metres away from our front door. There were also relatives and friends to catch up with and most nights were spent socialising.
We got up early one morning and caught the train to Bologna, a beautiful city which I instantly fell in love with. It was very different from Florence, which is full of narrow streets where cars, buses, motorbikes, cyclists and pedestrians are all forced to use the same space, and very little shade. Bologna’s streets are lined with wide footpaths covered with porticos, a very sensible arrangement which made the city a pleasure to stroll around. The lack of busloads of tourists was also welcome.
Travel vs Sailing
Travelling by more traditional means is still a novelty after a year of sailing everywhere at a speed of 5 knots. However, there’s no pleasure in flying, apart from its convenience, and we remain convinced that our future is on Ruby Rose sailing across oceans rather than travelling by land. However, this time with Nick’s family is also special, and later in the year we’ll get to spend some time with my family as well, which we simply cannot do on the boat. As much as we love having visitors, it’s just not practical to have anyone on board for more than 10-14 days so the hurricane season is an excellent excuse to have some quality family time.
I’ll leave you with some photos of the incredible statues located in the Piazza della Signoria, most of which date back to the Renaissance.