Florence

spotting the fakes

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Florence was a great spot to set up base for a few day to explore the surrounding areas. From Florence, we ventured to Pisa and Siena as day trips. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is in walking distance from the train station. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you otherwise. We met a couple on the way to Pisa who were bitterly disappointed that there was a bus strike in Pisa and that they would have to walk to see it. Because god-forbid anyone should ever have to use their legs for 10 minutes at a time!

Being in Pisa was surreal, to stand on flat ground and look at this building that looks to be toppling over. There were many brave tourists venturing in to tour the tower. No thanks, we are pretty comfortable staying on a flat and stable surface!

The Leaning Tower
The Leaning Tower

Around Italy, there are vendors selling fake everything. Any item from any designer brand that you can imagine, there is a fake being sold somewhere on the street: sunglasses, perfumes, handbags. One day in Florence, while we were enjoying a stroll through the streets, a piracy ring bust unravelled in front of our eyes (only metres away). First, we heard a “command” hollered from one of the vendors and within 10 seconds, all their temporary shop fronts were literally folded up. There were easily about 10 men carrying their makeshift stores and racing through the alleyways of Florence with undercover police in tow. Only remnants remained that there had been an illegal store nearby: nothing more that a few stray sunglasses lying on the footpath. One detective wearing a cream suit came racing around the corner and was visibly annoyed that the vendors had alluded him. He swore loudly and animatedly kicked and stomped on the scattered sunglasses. We stood in awe and for a split second, considered that this might have been a crime chase being shot in a movie and we would be in the midst of it!

Italy was certainly having its share of excitement for us – what would be next? After spending a week in Florence and eating the BIGGEST gelato known to mankind we are here in Rome.

bellissimo italia

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Correctly guessed, we are now in Italy! We’ve spent our last few days in Milan, Venice, Verona and Bologna. Now we know why we learnt Italian for 6 years in Primary School. For moments like these when you need to be able to count, say hello and thank people!

Pigeon pollution
Pigeon pollution

The sinking city of Venice was quite a sight and a little bit of a smell too. The streets are a weaving mess but we successfully didn’t get lost as many of our travel predecessors have warned us!  The sun was out and so were the pigeons.

One too many breadcrumbs
One too many breadcrumbs

Actually, the Piazza San Marco was polluted with pigeons who were being clearly overfed by tourists. Methinks this is erring on animal cruelty…

In Verona, it felt like every school was having an excursion to Juliet’s balcony. It was crowded, noisy and dare we say, not romantic at all. There were couples who clearly had devised that the “she” of the relationship would stand in the balcony to look down to the “he” of the relationship. Let’s just say, we cringed and quickly took our photos before dashing out of the courtyard!

Romeo, romeo wherefore art thou romeo...
Romeo, romeo wherefore art thou romeo…

Bologna was a surprise squeeze in for us. We hadn’t intended on going but thanks to our Eurail pass, we thought it was best to put it to good use. Bologna was completely different to what we expected; bigger and busier! Our greatest disappointment was that we couldn’t get spaghetti bolognese considering it was this city that gave the dish its name. Suppose it wouldn’t be called “spag bol” similarly to how  some clever person once raised that Chinese food isn’t known as Chinese in China?!

Onwards to Florence from here….