Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Wednesday, 25th October – Florence

After being in galleries all day yesterday, we decided our brains, and our feet, needed a break. It was a beautiful warm sunny day (the first one for a while) so we hopped on the bus and went to Fiesole, a town just outside of Florence famous for Tuscan countryside and fantastic views of Florence. Fiesole was founded by the Etruscans, and was an important city rivaling Florence until 1125. Now it is a quiet town which is home to many villas and weekenders because of its milder climate. (Not that it was mild today – it might be nearly winter, but it was really hot)

It was certainly a pretty area, with the typical Tuscan countryside – ochre-coloured villas with red tile roofs, olive groves, vineyards and cypress trees, and blue, blue sky. We took a walk around the town, past Etruscan ruins, a Roman amphitheatre (which we were too mean to pay €9 to see), and a lovely park, up to a hill-top convent (closed for lunch) and then to the look-out – wow!! What a view – a huge panorama of the surrounding hills down to Florence spread out in the valley. The photos don’t do it justice at all. Then back down to the town past a shop full of gorgeous Tuscan pottery (well, to be truthful, we didn’t exactly go right past it), and to a terrace restaurant for lunch. This is what holidays are about!

The walk was rather steep in parts – it turns out the reason they call these Tuscan towns “Hill Towns” is because there are hills there!

We were having so much fun that we decided we’d walk to the next town and catch the return bus there. “1km easy downhill walk” the brochure said. Well, it would have been 1km and all downhill if we hadn’t taken the wrong path for the first 20 minutes, and it was easy in the sense of on a road and downhill, but parts of it were really steep! Very scenic though, and we got to peek through the gates of a few exclusive villas. We caught the bus back to Florence, but got off at the first stop because we spotted even better views out the bus window. Took more photos, and caught the next bus back. A very pleasant and relaxing day – hopefully now we’ll have the strength to tackle Florence tomorrow. Florence is the first place we have really struggled with the crowds, not to mention the motor-bikes!