“Every journey of a thousand miles
must start with a single step.”
The plan today was to go to Sienna. I left the apartment in plenty of time to get the train. But what do we say about the best laid plans?
I cleverly (I thought) managed to purchase the tickets from the self-service machine with some rather unnecessary assistance from a young woman who then asked me for money as she had helped me. Obviously, she was broke so I gave her some change.
At this time I had not had my macchiato and brioche so I purchased Coffee Americano (filtered coffee) and a brioche from the station bar. The station was so crowded that a woman bumped into me and I ended up with the coffee spilled on me. Oh woe is me!
Then the board showed that the train was delayed for 5 minutes. Then it showed it would depart from Platform 4. Well with a host of others I duly trudged along to Platform 4, validated my ticket and waited, and waited and waited and finally a train pulled into the Platform. But no doors opened and after about 7 or 8 minutes the train pulled away without having taken on any passengers. We then heard that there would be further delays and after another 15 minutes we saw that the train was cancelled. After speaking to a Scottish man who had some understanding of Italian he told me that the train drivers were on strike. Unfortunately for him he was booked into a hotel in Sienna that day and had only two days there. I wonder if he got there eventually.
So I thought blow this and took myself out of the stazione whereupon I espied the sightseeing bus. So I jumped on again –note here if you show your ticket from an earlier ride you get a 10% discount – and off I went.
One of the stops is quite close to the Uffizi Gallery and as I hadn’t yet made it to this Museum to end all Museums, I got off there. To my surprise and delight there were no queues and so I went in and spent the next few hours taking in some of the wonders of the artworks and the sculptures for some many centuries ago, housed in this wonderful museum. Unfortunately one cannot of course use cameras around the exhibits but here is the link to Wikipedia so you can see some of them. And there were windows at the end of the long gallery that gave different views along the Arno.
Oh and there was a solitary rower on the turgid water of the River Arno but I couldn’t get him in a photo.
By this time I was getting hungry so I looked around for someplace for a very late lunch. I discovered a little place called Tavernetta Della Signoria where I had the most delicious risotto ever – risotto e asparagi e gambei – risotto with asparagus and shrimp. Lovely, lovely.
After this I decided to jump on the sightseeing bus to get back to the stazione but on the way I saw some things to share with you.
Then just as this bus was pulling up to stop, the one going to Fiesole arrived. So I went back up to that lovely little village nestled in the hills above Florence. Unfortunately, the ticket office for the amphitheatre and the other museums was closed. The attractions close at 6 pm and apparently, the ticket office closes at 4.30. So I missed out on those.
I wandered around the square as I had an hour to wait for the bus to take me back to Florence. I found a little restaurant/bar and had a glass of not too rough red house wine and a brioche while I sat and contemplated how lucky I was to be here at this time in my life. It was 5.30 pm so rush hour everywhere but not in Fiesole. Three cars were the most I counted at any one time going through or around the square.
All too soon the bus arrived and it was time to go back to the hustle of the city. It was 7 pm when the bus arrived at the station and so it was going to be another fairly late night. I waited for my usual bus, and waited and waited without any bus appearing so I decided as it was getting late and dark, I would take a taxi from the station forecourt. That was a good idea. Usually there are rows of white cabs waiting at the station but not tonight. I stood in line for about 40 minutes before it as my turn to get a cab. Everybody was quite cheerful about the wait although nobody seemed to know what the hold up was.
My cab driver was a chatty little guy who had worked in London for a year and so was fairly fluent in English. He explained that the bus drivers had gone out in sympathy with the train drivers. So I eventually arrived back at the apartment at 8.30 pm so you will understand why there was no blog written yesterday.
After yesterday’s full on day I decided to have a quiet day around the apartment. I eventually went out around 1.30pm to have some brunch. I thought I might find a little bar/restaurant to have a glass of wine with some food locally. However, as I was passing the bus stop a bus came along so I then changed plans and decided to go into town for lunch.
Saturday and the place was full of people. I’m really glad I went to the Uffizi yesterday. I am sure there would have been long queues today.
I wandered around and found yet another little restaurant, this one called Little David. Here I had minestrone soup, Italian style. Not unlike my vegetable soup so beloved of my son David, but with the addition of lashings of Parmesan. I must try that when I get home again.
Then I decided to go back to the apartment but I managed to lose myself and walked round in circles passing Little David twice. I had to resort to asking a dashing young policeman the way. I have no idea what he said but he had the most beautiful smile. So I wandered on, bought a gelato and the young woman in the shop showed me with hand movements how to get to the station. I was almost there.
So I arrived at the station in time for the bus home. I got off at a stop near the supermercado to by some fruit for dinner then called in to the patisserie for an apricot brioche and a plan brioche to have with the fruit. On the way I passed the local flower shop. What a lovely display.
And so ended the thirteenth day in this fabulous city.