Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Florence - A Day of Misadventure.
For us Florence was not a great experience, it was just an interlude of a few hours while doing other things. Firstly our leased Citroen C3 required servicing after 2000 kms of travelling and secondly we were taking our son Andrew to Florence to catch a plane to Moscow. We drove over to Chiusi where we had booked the car in a few days previous but as usual, we got lost. As we were looking for the Citroen Dealer we were confronted by a road block, by the Carabinieri, you know, those guys with automatic rifles over their shoulders. Sue said, "you stay in the car while I ask these nice gentlemen for directions."
After much hand gesturing a smile came over their faces which then broke into laughter. Sue came back to the car as the Carbonieri were pulling up their road block. Wondering what went on, Sue just said to follow them as they were giving us an escort to the Citroen Dealer. It seemed one of them had a relative in Australia which then made us their friends - how good is that?

Despite being initially lost, we were still early (we factor in getting lost time) for the train to Florence so we decided to have coffee and a snack at a local cafe near the station. The lady behind the counter was talking with the local patrons and of course our Italian was basically non-existent. I tried to order coffee and all of a sudden this Aussie accent flowed out from the lady. She just happen to be from Sydney and was married to a local bloke from Chiusi. They'd lived in Sydney for several years but decided to settle back here. I think she enjoyed communicating in her native language and we promised to call back on our way home after picking up the car.

Taking time out to watch the waters of the river Arno flowing beneath the Ponte Vecchio.

The train trip to Florence was uneventful and we arrived ready to explore in what little time we had available before Andrew left in a bus for the airport.
Not much time really and as a consequence, we didn't appreciate the true treasures of Florence. Certainly Ponte Vecchio was on the must see list and we did spend some relaxing time looking out over the river.
Certainly when entering from the Pizza de San Giovanni the Duomo was a highlight and entering inside of the Duomo will always be an experience to be remembered, much the same as the Sistine Chapel in Rome.

We would have needed a few days, not a few hours to have brought home great memories of Florence. The tacky souvenir sellers, the poverty and beggars tend to take the shine from such an historic and cultural rich city. Is it any wonder we love returning to rural flow Italy and France more than the populated cities.

Looking down narrow side streets can offer some amazing sights.

Was the statue on the right offering us directions?

The Duomo and the Baptistery in the forefront were amazing. The Duomo is the fourth largest church in Europe and when you enter it you actually feel minuscule in the huge open area. Even though there were heaps of tourist inside, it still felt uncrowded. The tower, Campanile was designed by Giotto and completed 20 years after his death.
Had we had more time, we could have explored the church for longer.

Time was moving on and we needed to get Andrew to the bus stop to take him to the airport. Our attempts to make contact with Alitalia to confirm Andrew's second leg of his flight from Florence to Moscow were unsuccessful but we guessed all would be OK.
It was not to be - as we were back on the train to Chiusi we received a call from Andrew to say that Alitalia would not honour his flight because he had not taken the first leg of the journey. This was infact (always read the small print) the case but due to a change of travel plans he decided to relinquish the cost of the first leg and make his way to Rome to meet us. I was furious that an airline would leave a 20 year old stranded in an airport possibly endangering his safety. This was more of an issue rather than the cost to me.
It was fortunate that Andrew called us for help and so we suggested that he purchase another ticket and I would deal with the matter when we returned to Australia. And I did. It took me three months of badgering but I did get a refund but not the apology I would have preferred. I now refer to them as the genitalia airline.

I guess this did leave a sour taste in our mouth from the Florence experience but our son eventually was safely on a flight to Moscow and we were back in Chiusi picking up our car. We did honour our promise to return the little bar with our new found Sydney friend and washed down that bad taste with a Vino.

Maybe we should return to Florence another time.


  1. It is just amazing where these Ozzies and S.Africans turn up - very small world.

    Glad you got your refund, but an apology would have been nice!

    Great photos. Diane
    Sorry about the first comment, my fingers cannot spell and the eyes did not see!!

  2. The whole world has become small, hasn't it? When we can talk to people on the other side of the world with today's technology.
    Our Florence experience sounds a bit sad but of course with time, it has become a tale to tell and laugh about now. Not long now before our story heads off from Tuscany to Venice and back to Paris.

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