Lucca (e Roma)

More visits in Tuscany...

We'll start with Rome which of course isn't in Tuscany but Lazio.
I got to go on an extra special fancy train and arrived to meet a very dear friend of mine and her family early last Thursday.
We spent the day at the Colosseum and mooching around ancient roman forums and climbing hills. Then the heavens opened...
I'm from manchester so the rain tends to have very little effect on my dress, mood or anything really, it's in the blood. This rain however was the biggest, baddest, wettest rain i have ever encountered.
So terrifying it was it caused me not to get back onto my cute fancy train to Firenze but, the equivalent of a local stopping train instead!! Three hours and 50 minutes later i arrived back in Florence!
Crazy i know.

This write up is rather short as i forgot my camera! Silly old me.
I did take a few photos on my phone though which shall be revealed at a later date.

Now onto Lucca.
A small city enclosed by red brick walls just north of Pisa this 'city' was such an incredible visit.
I arrived to a myriad of market stalls which sold everything from brass knobs to jewellery to crowns and furniture. I swear you could have asked for anything and someone would have sold it somewhere!

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I spent the day munching on dried mango and sugared almonds (with an obligatory gelato thrown in of course). I ate lunch in the shadows of Saint Michele church and rented a bike to ride around the back streets and explore the walls.

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 The highlight was not only the dried mango, but a brisk walk up the Torre Guinigi (Guinigi Tower!). From here you could not only see every inch of the city but the foothills of the central Apennines!

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If there are any market magpies out there like me or just a lone traveller seeking a day in the shade to mooch around cool streets and eat too much ice cream this is a must visit!

My dad is coming over this weekend. It just so happens that this weekend i'm going to a wedding but i have urged him to visit on the Sunday whilst i'm away. A hard man to please, i'll let you know his review!!

xx

Pisa

Next stop last weekend was a Sunday in Pisa
Let's get one thing straight, Italy is basically closed on a Sunday; so, finding somewhere to go can always be abit of a challenge. Using my incredible intellect and spy powers (i watch too much spy tv!!) i realised Pisa's main attractions are outdoors ergo a winning Sunday out.

Getting of the train in Pisa you assume the station to be somewhat central. Never assume, i bought a map thinking it would come in useful but it turns out maps are only useful if you know where you started!! I spent a good 45 mins to an hour wondering round the back streets and residential areas of possibly the worst sign posted city in the world, ever.

Worth it though as stumbling across a sight like the leaning tower by accident is pretty an absolute delight.
Much larger and impressive than i thought, the tower really does lean! 'Errr yes Kate of course it leans' I hear you cry but no, really, its full on falling over! Apparently its lean is only about 4 degrees but when you're stood under it it certainly feels like more!!

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Dog in a back pack was also a highlight of the day!

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After getting a few hopeless strangers to take just one decent photo of me (i kid you not, one person missed my whole head off!) i went into full tourist mode and boarded a big red pisa tourist bus! My feet were aching from my morning walking and honestly i have no shame in being a mega tourist at times.
We rode around and i learnt far more about Pisa in 45 minutes than i would have in a life time if i hadn't have got the bus.

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Once i disembarked i found a delightful market that stretched miles and miles. Here is picked up my ultimate bargain purchase. A vintage Prada handbag for just 45 euro!! At the time i only had 20 on me so raced around the streets to find a 'banko-mat' or cash machine to those who don't speak half hearted Italian though far that some young fashionista would appear from nowhere and steal my perfect handbag. Alas they did not and so far it has proven to be worth every penny!

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Overall Pisa was worth the day trip. The comfy lofer to Florences dazzling heels i'd say.
On my way home i popped into the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo in Firenze as i'd heard there was a Marilyn Monroe exhibition showing there. If you are in Florence before the end of January you must go and see it. For just 5 euro there is not only the shoe exhibition but some fantastic photos and portraits of Marilyn, a beautiful show reel, all of her most famous dresses and a really interesting part on how her rise through popular culture relates to renaissance art. A must visit in my opinion.

xx

p.s. take a look at Pisa's train station, what did i say about ugly Italian train lines!!

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Firenze

Here i am, at last able to blog and show you a little of what i've been doing these last two weeks!

I moved over here to Au Pair for a family in Pontassieve a small town just out of Florence which just so happens to be a pretty central point in Tuscany so i've really managed to get around.
So we'll start closest to home, Firenze.

Florence is without a doubt one of the most beautiful cities i've ever visited. The streets twist and turn, with total disarray in some parts, but everywhere seems to lead back to the cental point of the Duomo.
This building has pretty much the most incredible facade i've ever seen on a building, religious or otherwise, anywhere in the world! I'd like to think i'm quite well travelled and have seen some real sights but, my jaw literally dropped when i saw The Florence Duomo for the first time!

I won't ramble on but be assured you must visit Florence, even just once in your lifetime.

Next on the Florence update, Food!!
Naturally the first thing i did on my first ever trip to Florence was find somewhere to eat. As a tourist it is easy to settle for the easiest thing. There are many many take away pizza joints or naff looking sandwich shops in the city. However for every tacky window is a secret street filled with hidden treasures. One such treasure is 'Ino (Via del Georgofili 3r) - you may pay a few euros more but from all accounts this place assembles one of the best sandwiches in Florence! Tucked on a tiny street behind the Uffizi it has a cool, sleek but rustic vibe with glass topped wine barrels for tables should you choose to eat in with a glass of wine. Ingredients are locally sources from Sienese salami to Tuscan pecorinos. Their bresaola, parmesan and tomato ciabatta is simply the most exquisite sandwich i've ever eaten!

Then naturally there is gelato! The italian specialty.
My first gelato experience was once to behold. A tub the size of my head and 6 euro later i was almost waist deep in gelato. I'd accidentally over gesticulated to the largest cup and even i couldn't finish the amount i was given. And boy did i try!

Since then i have found what i have been assured are two of Florence's best gelato establishments. The First is again a little further walk than your general on the corner gelateria, but totally worth it. Gelateria Santa Trinita (Lungarno Guicciardini) is one of the newest addition to the long long list of gelato makers in Florence. Just off the Ponte Santa Trinita (hence the name!) this place manages to achieve the perfect sweet and creamy balance. I tried their special of the day white peach and by god was it good! The flavours range from classics such as crema, pistacchio and fragola to the likes of liquorice and savoury gelatos, a real must visit!  Sadly i lost the napkin from the second shop i was going to recommend but with time it will return to me i'm certain, so please don't let me forget!!!

Here's a few snaps from my aimless rambling about town.


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The Duomo peeping round street corners

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Tower, baptistry and main dome in all their gawdy glory.

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Probably one of Florence's most famous views.

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Quite probably my favourite shop frontage ever!!

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For such a beautiful city, the train station of one of the ugliest i've ever seen! This stands true for nearly all italian towns and cities!!


Next some more news... i'm actually leaving! In two weeks.
One lovely month and it's over.

In all honesty it's for the best. The family don't really need an au pair, meaning i sit around for many many hours a day waiting to be useful. Both parents are self employed ergo at home most of the time! I'll save the details but will fill you in on more of the fun places i've visited on my days off over the next few days.

Ciao for now x

Uno

I know i promised Italy posts!! Sadly this internet here is not up to scratch and i can't upload any photos!!
Annoying i know.

When i have it all working i will do my best.
Tomorrow i'm hoping to go to Lucca by the coast for a mooch. Hopefully climb a tower or two and eat some splendid gelato as always.

xx

here it goes again

Here goes another month where i am neglectful to my blog.
I'm literally rubbish.

Everyday i put together a witty repartee of chirps and comments about my life (in my head of course, along with listening to music and pretending to be in a music video... too much i'm sorry) then i get round to writing a post and, nothing! Nada. I can't even come up with naff jokes or inspirational quotes just to post for post's sake.

Here i solemnly swear, a blog post every day for the next 5 days.
I promise to my best... (I was about to write out the brownie guide promise but that would have been a little sad and weird admittedly, even for me).
I promise i will take you to all the places i have been these past few weeks and let you know plans for the future.
You are back in my life my blogger buddies and i've said it before but i mean it now more than ever i will be back with a bang.

Especially 2 weeks from now.
With that, ciao x