Adventures in Tuscany

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It’s been a few weeks since I last wrote about what’s going on in my life at the moment, and I have to say that much has happened! Over the easter week, I managed to get back to the UK and see family and friends (despite my 8 hour delay at Bologna airport, but that’s not something I want to relive right now…), but before I knew it my time was up and I was touching back down on Italian soil for the final sprint of my year abroad!

I decided upon my return that I was going to try and get away and visit as many places as possible in my final weeks, and started in style – with an impromptu adventure under the Tuscan sun! It just so happens that my lovely friend Ellie has been working for the British Council in a school situated between Pisa and Florence, so I dropped her a message and asked if she wanted a visitor…

I left Mirandola on a lovely, sunny Friday afternoon after finishing my lessons, making my way to Bologna and then on to Florence. The train from Bologna to Florence was the Frecciarossa, and anyone in Italy who has used it will know what I mean when I say that the UK needs to take a leaf out of the Italian’s book when it comes to trains. The Frecciarossa is a high speed train which I can only describe as being really bloody luxurious! I was in Florence in a grand total of thirty five minutes. THIRTY FIVE MINUTES. It felt too good to be true, but surely, just over half an hour later, I stepped out of the station and opened up my trusty google maps app ready to find out which direction I was heading. I had decided to treat myself to a night in a lovely hotel down on the river, and eventually found it after wandering down one or two wrong streets and walking past the actual entrance twice… I popped in, dropped off my things, freshened up and went off to explore! The sun was just going down as I sat and looked up the river at the beautiful Ponte Vecchio for a while (what is my life) and then decided that it was time to find somewhere to get myself some wine and dinner…but mainly wine.

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The next morning, Ellie and I met up in a nearby Piazza and after some big hugs and excited chatting (we hadn’t seen each other since  we left Durham), I soon found out that I had a ready-made tour guide and we set off to see everything Florence has to offer. No wonderfully constructed, grammatically correct paragraph full of flowery adjectives could possibly describe just how breath-taking a city Florence is, so I won’t even try. I was given a whistle stop tour of everything worth seeing and even found the first ever coffee I actually like! The dream! I rubbed a bronze pig’s nose for good luck, had my picture taken with Dante, marvelled at how sassy the statue’s poses are, wandered over the Ponte Vecchio, saw one Palazzo after another and was genuinely speechless when I saw the Cathedral. It’s so fun and colourful that I can’t help but feel that maybe we should all pitch in and give Durham Cathedral a lick of paint?

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After a well-deserved carafe of wine and a pizza, we left Florence and went to the little town where Ellie is living with one of the English teachers from her school – one of the loveliest ladies I have met here in Italy! She showed such kindness and was so welcoming AND had the most adorable cats…(you can take the cat lady away from cats but…) I stayed Saturday night with Ellie and then we headed out on a GLORIOUS Sunday morning (I still can’t believe how lucky we were with the weather) to catch the train to Pisa!

I’ve always wanted to visit Pisa, but I don’t think I ever expected it to be how it is. If that makes sense. Which it doesn’t… It’s a lot smaller than I imagined, but just as lovely! There was a really fun flower festival happening when we arrived, which made the whole city much more vibrant and colourful! Our first stop was lunch (food first, culture later), and Ellie led the way to a gorgeous and tiny little restaurant which specialises in pasta and my GOSH did it specialise. I had the yummiest plate of pasta that I’ve had here in Italy. It was to die for, and we spent nearly two hours chatting and eating and drinking. It was exactly what I needed to round off such a lovely weekend! BUT, of course, we were not done! We had not yet visited the main event! That wonky tower everyone raves about…

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After about 20 attempts to get a picture with the leaning tower (I wish I was kidding), I resigned to the fact that there were just far too many people getting in the way. Have you ever stopped to wonder how many people’s pictures you’re in the background of? No? Well I have. I think that, that day it was about 100. The tower is glorious, and it needs to be seen in the flesh to be truly appreciated. After a few selfie attempts, we lay on the grass with the tower looming overhead and soaked up some rays. It was 23 degrees and there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky. Slightly disappointing since it meant I couldn’t find cloud shapes, but I got over it…

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I ended my weekend literally lying under the Tuscan sun going a bit pink. Year abroad problems am I right?!

A Presto!

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