Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Before leaving Florence I inquired about shuttle service at the Tuscany Campground. Only 1 a day and it's at 8:45. Well I won't make that, "how much for a taxi?" 8 euros. Seems kind of steep, I wonder how far it is. Got online and noted it was less than 2km from the train station. Where they get the gaul to charge 8 euros for a 1 mile cab ride I'll never know!! I can walk that distance quicker than the time it would take to order a taxi!I arrived in the afternoon and was asking two pretty teenagers directions to the road I needed. One gives directions, the other translates for me. Alright, Grazie. I was just about to head off when the shuttle from the camp pulls up. Originally the driver wanted to charge me the 8 euros because I didn't actually make a reservation, but after a bit he agreed to take me for nothing. Which was great because although it was far, it was all uphill. So it's $12.50 to use my tent or $15 for a little mobile home with its own shower/toilet. Tough choice! It's a really beutiful place. Lush Tuscan mountains and not much else to ruin the view. Enjoy the sunset with a bottle of Tuscany Red. Listening to the tunes coming from the bar and chat with Darren (England) who is there with his wife and kid looking for a home. But first he has to spend some time getting in good with the locals or else he'll wind up paying twice as much! A little later I met Rose & Lisa (Cape town) who were in the middle of Tour guide boot camp and just jumped ship after deciding it wasn't their thing. Lisa and I wind up playing Italian 8 ball (ya gotta sink the 8 ball in the last pocket you sunk) with a couple of locals. A student and a restaurant owner who is a big jolly guy and kindly buys us a couple of drinks. They are pretty bad pool players, so I miss a few on purpose just to keep things going and amicable. All the while taking in the scene of the mostly locals (the town is so small that they come up to the campsite for entertainment!!) dancing and singing Kareoke. Normally I hate Kareoke, but their was some talent there so it was alright.Next morning got up and swam some laps in the pool after breakfast. Then went for a walk around the hills towards the horse stables. Passed a babbling brook, some abandoned villas, vineyards and farm animals. Pigs, deer, goats, ostriches, a horse and salamander darting every which way. Chilled again on the terrace with Lisa keeping me company.Next morning is a repeat of yesterday. Only today I nearly break my neck coming out the shower in my slaps. It was worse than walking on ice!! Another lazy day out at the pool and a nice pizza dinner with Lisa in a suprislingly nice restaurant for a camp ground. Later met some guys working at the campground. Three English blokes and an Auzzie. I may run into them again since they're based at the Venice Campsite. Next morning woke up, paid the bill and had a cup of coffee with Lisa sharing my last moments in lovely Tuscany. Just missed the 11:30 train so I got on the 1:30, but it was the wrong one!!! Apparently they switched tracks on me at the last moment. No biggy, it just cost me another 2 hours. Eventually made it Rome, but that's another chapter......Ciao.

Firenze (Florence)

Nice views on the train from La Spezia to Florence. Snow topped mountains in the distance, farmlands in close and hills of marble and limestone in between. Had to switch trains in Pisa. I had about 10 seconds to hop on the connecting train. In fact the train doors closed on my backpack. Tug, Tug,whew.. made it, barely. Nearly fell over in the process. An Aussie couple and I chuckle over it and together hope we are on the correct train. It was.Arrived in Florence and head to the tourist office. Closed?? Huh. (Later I find out there is a new office across the street) While I have a puzzled look on my face and nice old man asks if I need accomadations? Well, by this time I've learned my lesson and don't want to waste time and energy looking around so I get the price/location and say "Let's go". Drop my stuff off and go wandering around. Stumble on the Duomo Cathedral which is huge in size and draw.Next morning I check out and check into Camping Michealangelo. Killer uphill walk with the pack, but it affords an awesome view of Florence. Good facilities, clean, bar, restaurant, open all year and they have 2 person framed tents which are very convenient. Enjoyed the view of Florence just down the road from Piazzle Michaelangelo. Florence just on the other side of the Arno River which is incredibly muddy and not attractive at all. They must photoshop the postcards of the river. There is a historical Monastery further up the road with monks singing beautifully. Back at the camp ground I sat down on the terrace and started easedropping on the conversation 3 girls were having. I chuckle at a comment and they realize I speak english. I fess up and introduce myself, they invite me to join them. Ineke (Oz), Kate and Amy (sisters hailing from the windy city) and I hit it off. We enjoyed a few brews and laughs and then I showed them a spot for some good cheap pizza. The next morning I wanted to check out the museums so I crossed the Vecchio bridge which is jewelers row. I got on line for the main museum, Museum Uffizi, but the line was a 4-5 wait!! Three Canadians and I decide it's a lost cause and walk to the Museum Academia to take a look at Michael. Upon entering we realized that they don't allow any pictures. Bullocks!! It's marble for crying out loud. And skylights right above the thing. Some people just like to break balls I guess. Afterwards I walked around for a while hoping to find a nice park, but couldn't find any. Found myself in the Jewish section of town and got a picture of a nice synagogue which they were cleaning the oxidation off of the copper dome. Back at the campgrounds it's a lot livelier because of the 3 day weekend. Talk the night away with Kate/Amy and they were gracious enough to pass along Dan Brown's Angels & Demons. It's a great blend of Science/Religion/philosophy. Highly recommend it. I spent one more day just wandering the streets and on the way back it started to drizzel. Italians apparently don't leave home without their umbrellas. Not 3 drops fell before a sea of umbrellas appeared. It's crowded enough in Florence, but after you add the umbrellas it gets a little trying. And I'm amazed no one poked my eye out:)