Gladys and I left Rome on a train bound for Florence while Yuanting and Kenny had arrived in San Francisco. Our hostel wasn’t too far from the train station and we were impressed with the room. Owned by brothers Vito and Carlo, Casa Dolce Casa was well kept, comfy and in a good location.
In parts of Florence, you still get a sense of the old days with cobble stone streets and stone architecture. One wouldn’t use modern to describe the city, but rather antiquated yet charming. Video gamers who play Assassin’s Creed would totally understand. We took it easy that evening, strolling around the town center and looking for a quiet restaurant for dinner. We had roasted potatoes (cut like fries but fresh and lightly fried with olive oil) and linguine with calamari.
The next day, without really having an idea of what we wanted to see, we again walked where our feet would take us. First, we went to check out the bus schedule to The Mall, a factory outlet about an hour away, so we could plan a shopping trip for the following day. That done, we walked in the central area, passing the cathedral, also known as the Duomo.
The queue to get in was long and the Italian summer was proving to be quite the test of our endurance. Along the way we were tempted by gelaterias. The heat and gelato won, and we gave up trying to get into the cathedral. We also found our way to the shopping streets where Gladys wanted to check out handbags. So we didn’t stay out in the heat for too long, eventually calling it a day and staying indoors watching TV.
The Mall Outlet Centre
So we took an hour-long bus ride to the Tuscan countryside to get to The Mall, a factory outlet shopping center. Gladys’ colleagues had recommended the place to her and we were going to check out what we could find. In the end, I actually bought more stuff than Gladys because I came across pretty good deals for Gucci leather shoes and a Tod’s wallet. Eventually, Gladys decided to buy her handbag from the boutique in Florence.
Back in Florence, we planned to visit the Uffizi. But another long queue for it really dampened my spirits. It was way too warm, this summer and yet another gallery wasn’t what I wanted to view. Watching TV online was way too tempting. Instead, we walked with less of an aim, looking at more sights around town. The list of sights we had drafted on the first day was quickly ignored. We did stroll along the River Arno though and of course, we took in the charming Ponte Vecchio, which was swamped with jewellers and tourists.
The day before, I strangely had a craving for chicken wings and we managed to find some at a German pub. Always trust a pub for great fare to accompany their beer! For our final meal in Florence, naturally, we had Italian, which was amazing as well – pasta with porcini mushrooms and a side of asparagus drizzled with olive oil. And of course, a bottle of Chianti red wine.