I always said that I would spend my 30th birthday in Italy, and I did not let me down.. Tuscany was the setting and this is what happened.
We left on Thursday night flying into Pisa.. delayed!!!!! You know what is the most shallow of apologies - Airplane Apologies... you stare and stare at your boarding gate screen then some smarmy accent comes over the intercom "British Airways apologises for the delay, but..." blah blah.. You know what would make the waiting and apologising mean something?? if they sent a member of staff outside to be kicked in the shins and then you get a glass of champagne. That would make the extra waiting more palatable.
Anyway - finally arrive in Pisa.. train strike.. No trains going from the airport to the city. It is 10pm at night and we are stuck. Noone can figure out the bus time table and the taxi queue is easily 300 people long. soooooooo we'll be sleeping in the airport tonight??? Luckily we found an Italian guy to translate the bus schedule and we managed to score a free ride into town.
Went to bed early, so I could wake up bright eyed and fresh and 30!!!!!
Early morning arose into the Pisa humidity, for the first time in my life I was spending a birthday in the heat of summer!!! 35 degrees!! Pulled on my dress and sat down to a gigantic breakfast, I love those italian breakfasts that include Chocolate Cake! delicioso.
Spent the morning wandering around Pisa doing the obligatory Pisa things - Duomo/Leaning Tower.. have to say, the leaning tower is a lot smaller than I imagined, and lots of people doing their tower poses. Nice to see that 'posing like a moron' translates all over the globe.
Then we raced to the train station to catch an early train into Florence which was to be our main stay.. oooh yeah how about that train strike??? First of all there was noone working at the station to tell us there was a train strike, and the ticket machine wasn't giving out change, so we ended up with about €30 in 'credit receipts'.. what good are they?? "excuse me, do you take train italia credit receipts??" (luckily we cashed them in on our last day.. like a savings account) Then we waited and waited for the train that seemed like it would never come. This waiting on a stinkin hot train platform was not how I imagined my 30th birthday panning out... however as a collective group of train station refugees we figured out that there was one train coming that day and presto! it arrived. Florence here we come.
The train to Florence takes an hour. Easy. Our hotel we were staying at was in the Palazzo Santo Spirito in an old mansion house. Nice balcony. Nice View. Nice Chandelier to swing around from. This is more like it.
Now that we had arrived in Florence we had lots of things to do: gelato eating/photos of naked men statues. Luckily there is plenty of both, you cant walk 10 feet without walking into a gelato shop, or a giant marble penis.
First up we climbed the Giotti Tower.. 414 steps. Dying of a heart attack on my birthday in Florence seems like a bittersweet way to go! Perfect views though, although have to say in a city that gets to 38 degrees and 85% humidity.. not a rooftop pool in sight!!!!!!!!!! Someone needs to go to the town meeting to raise this issue.
There is so much art and buildings to see that you kinda wander around in a daze. We saw many a beautiful thing and tried to absorb as much as possible. I think Florence has the highest ratio of Madonna and Child paintings I have ever seen. Once our brains were full to capacity of Renaissance Art we looked for the one thing we hadn't managed to find all day.. Italian Happy Hour. We had stumbled across this in Milan last year - where you buy a cocktail and the giant platter of antipasto/pasta/pizza/fruit is yours for the taking.. so we got into Happy Hour detective mode and sniffed out the Happy Hour area (Santa Croce). Pina Colada time!!!!!! So happy. Went to bed thoroughly satisfied. Best Birthday Ever.
Day 2: more art. Went to another church. Got in trouble for dressing too revealing and had to wear the punishment shroud around. Spent 2 hours in the line to see David.. after 2 hours of waiting in line, I was beyond over it. David Shmavid, there are like a billion fake David's all around the place, I couldn't stand one second longer standing in a line that goes nowhere so we said fuck it! and went to stand in another line for 2 hours at a different museum.. productive!
There is one interesting thing about standing in lines for hours and that is listening to the people around you, and if you happen to be standing near some travelling american art students and their teacher - I advise you to just gouge your eardrums out now. The art students and their dumbass teacher did not stop talking for one second about the most inane crap for hours on end. Finally before I could strangle one of them we were into the Uffizi Gallery. Lots to see: Leonardo/Michaelangelo/Rafaello/Donatello. It was a teenage mutant ninja turtle name fest.
Loved it so much. Italy is just a place you want to move to when you are there. Italian people are so friendly and helpful, and even though I don't speak italian, I can kinda understand them and I think they can understand me too. I want to move there.
Florence is a great setting to be if you want to pretend you are in lots of movies - you can pretend to the be the murderer from 'Perfume' on the Ponte Vecchio, or you can pretend to be Hannibal Lector looking at the 'Duomo seen from the Belvedere' in Silence of the Lambs, or pretty much all the Florence scenes from Hannibal can be created around the Palazzo Vecchio. You can then have some carpaccio eaten off someones face and a drink of Chianti. realism.
I wanted my birthday to be hot and by god!!!!!!!! It was so hot that you dont even have to move and you are sweating. I was sweating so much that my skin was covered in salt crystals, I was a walking pretzel stick. You could have licked my neck as a savoury snack before having a cool glass of Duff Beer (which they sell over there?? but they wont give you the bottle?? whats the point then??) On the last day there it was soooooo hot that it was too hot for bras. Noone wears a bra in Florence. Which would explain a lot of the arty nudity around the place.
I always notice this in every Italian city we go to, but the locals are just too good looking. All the men in Florence looked like Adrian Brody to me. Loves it. Next we are going to Naples and the Amalfi Coast, I wonder who they will look like down there??
30 and loving it.