Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Monday, 23rd October – Venice to Florence

We said a sad goodbye to Venice this morning, but not before a little shopping expedition. There is so much to buy here its quite overwhelming. Actually being on a tight budget makes it so much easier – if I had more money to spend I don’t know how I would decide what to spend it on! But we had picked out a couple of not-too expensive souvenirs on our wanderings, and succeeded in finding our way straight to the same shops again to buy them. Getting lost in Venice was one of our aims, and we managed it quite well a couple of times, but actually finding the same place twice is a challenge.

So, our last Vaporetto ride to the railway station, then a train to Florence. A very painless journey (made even more so by both of us sleeping most of the way – sightseeing is very exhausting). We walked a few blocks from the station to our hotel – past narrow alleyways of medieval streets full of very, very expensive shops (designer boutiques, mostly – gorgeous stuff). One shop had a price list (in Italian of course) in each window display, and we entertained ourselves trying to work out which item in the window was worth the top price (in the thousands of Euros).

Our hotel is tiny, only 8 rooms, on the second floor of an old building, but the room is quite nice (we have a view of the light well, but there is a mirror outside the window so we can see the sky!) and the hosts, Alessio & Asumi are lovely people, who gave us lots of helpful advice when we arrived. The location is great – very close to the Ponte Vecchio, no more than 10 minutes walk from the main sights, and on a bus route if we want to venture further afield.

On Alessio’s recommendation, we took a stroll on the less touristy, south side of the river. Lots of lovely little shops and galleries with antiques, pottery, painting etc, and we also passed a number of artisan’s workshops – not open to the public, but on street level so we peeped through the open doorways. We chose one of the restaurants Alessio had recommended, and had a great meal – gargantuan servings, really tasty, sitting outside on the piazza – we even had an accordionist stroll by & play for us. The restaurant was packed, so we shared a table with an English couple and shared travel stories. I think we’re going to like Florence.