Day 7 and 8 - Florence
Starting point: Motrone
Driving distance: 100 km
Walking distance: ca 30 km
I woke up to the sound of people working on their farms. After the morning necessaries, I went to the kitchen. No one was home, so I went to the terrace, from where I saw my hosts watering their farm. I patiently waited till Rachel came and asked if I was ready for Breakfast. The food was simple, but good. I was able to try homemade marmalade, fresh fruits from the garden and a proper dose of morning coffee. Shay had finished his work, and joined the table. Last night gave us both time to think things through and have a fresh start for the next day. We talked about Toscana's picturesque scenery, hidden places in the town of Lucca, and the difficulties of rural life such as the limitations with water suppliers, the luck of prime necessity, and clear, but not always easy to accept, local rules. My host was clearly anxious about the outcome of the Brexit voting, because he talked about the topic a few times. He mentioned five young Brits who had visited him at the time when the results were published, and how emotional the situation became, and how, for them, the voting was a chance to question the status quo of the current Government's Economic and Immigration policies. And not to leave the union of European States, per se. Shay, a New Zealander, clearly took the voting personally.
I left Motrone after breakfast. The narrow windy forest road led me down the Via Lodovica street. 17 km later, I did a short stop at Ponte della Maddalena, also known as the Devil's bridge, one of Medieval Engineering's masterpieces that survived Second World War. One story about the bridge goes that the German officer loved and appreciated it so much that, despite his orders, he left it untouched. The second story says that the bridge was too narrow to let a tank drive through and destroy it. I took a flyer from a Tourist Information Point, read a legend and a real story about the bridge, and after about half an hour, I was back on the road to Signa. I arrived at the city early in the afternoon.
Despite good public transportation possibilities to Florence, Signa doesn't have much to offer for a traveling tourist. During my two-day stay, I met my host just once for 10 minutes. He gave me the keys with a short explanation of the rules and that was it. I never saw him again.
Before going to Florence, I refreshed myself, put on a summer dress and sandals, and instead of looking like a biker, for a change, I had an appearance of a typical touristic woman. I went to the nearest train station, bought a ticket for 2.6 Euros to get to Florence, and after 25 minutes I was ready to explore the city. In fact, that was the only city that I visited for more than a couple of hours. From Firenze P. Prato, I took random streets looking for a grocery store. I entered Caffè Curtatone to ask for a good cup of cappuccino. The place looked nice. Several gentlemen were standing by the bench, drinking espresso and chatting enthusiastically. I did not look like I was part of the group at all, no business clothes, my hair was not perfectly done, and my make up was almost invisible. I got pissed off when standing in the queue, a lady bartender served another man before me, and after me, somehow not even noticing that there is a woman in between. I expressed my thought loudly and left the place. A bit further away, I found a cafeteria "Piccioli", which improved my mood immediately. In this Pasticceria, I could forget about counting calories. I ordered my desired cappuccino, but when I saw the choice of pastries, I couldn't resist and ordered some of these heavenly sweets.
I left totally satisfied, making my way towards Cattedrale di Santa Maria del
Fiore, and watching masterpieces of art and architecture. The day was very hot (33 Degrees Celsius at least), the air sultry, and I was in a very good mood. Passing Pica Santa Trinita, a French man came to me, and started a conversation:
French: Hi. How are you?
Me: Thank you. I am fine, and you?
French: Where do you come from ?
(I saw him thinking a bit)
French: I like Polish people.
Me: Great! Me too. :)
(I saw him thinking a bit more)
French: Is Poland in Europe?
Me: Is France in Europe? (I tried to hide my amusement.)
Me: Do you know where Poland is located?
French: Yes, but I don't know, if Poland is in Europe... you know, for example Bulgaria is 50-50, partially in Europe, and partially not.
Me: (I was speechless, although I got that what he meant was the European Union, and not Europe - the continent. Still, I was puzzled by that 50-50)
French: Would you like to go for coffee?
Me: And what would you like to talk about? European geography?
French: (confusion and luck of understanding suddenly popped up on his face)
Me: Well, no. Thanks for the offer though.
I continued on via de Tuornabuoni, Via de' Cerratani till I stopped at Piaza del Duomo in front of Florence's main Cathedral. There I sat at Bottegone next to an Australian couple, who I met again three days later, on one of Rome's streets (What a coincidence!). We had a very pleasant conversation for over an hour. We talked about places we had visited, things that happened to us during our travels, the people we met, family, friends. Eating a pail of fresh cut fruits, I had a cheerful evening that day.
Sun was slowly getting low, so I walked along the Arno river towards main train station. With the last 6 Euros in my pocket, I went to the nearest Chinese, the only place that was still open at 11:00 pm. I felt consternation, when I saw the 2 kids of the saleswoman, one was gripping, the other was cleaning the floor. It was late, I was tired, so were the kids. I bought the last piece of Chinese made pizza, sat at a table upset and a bit annoyed by the situation I witnessed.
Last train to Siena was leaving at 11:35 pm. I reached the house in Siena around midnight.
The next day I spent entirely in Florence visiting all the well-known places which the city is known for. To enter each building I had to patiently wait in long queues. The Images of these places were disturbed by the presence of military with machine guns, who were supposed to take care of local safety. That reminded me of one of the many advises I received that I should stay away from the crowds and that the Law enforcement Organisations, such as the Police, nowadays, are not efficient anymore.