So, we went to Italy. It was beautiful and very Italian. We stayed in Viarregio, on the Tuscany coast, which is kind of an Italian version of Bournemouth. Lots of faded grandeur and elderly residents mixing with holidaying families from Pisa and Florence.
Like a fool I forgot the Gatwick Express tickets and my camera (we had to leave home in a bit of a hurry to let our American house-sitters get settled). Luckily Charlie had her camera, so we borrowed that.
We spent most of our time on the beach in the baking heat. We did manage to force a smidgen of culture down Charlie’s protesting gullet when we went to Pisa for a day. She wasn’t happy. The next day, Martin and I left her on the beach with Nanny and headed off to Florence. I haven’t seen Florence for many years, and Martin had never been there.
We did lots of walking about, and getting cricks in our necks from all the gorgeous architecture. We visited Dante’s house, but it isn’t really his house: it’s a house in his street that he may have visited. A medieval house that has been turned into a decidedly dry historical exhibition of the pre-Renaissance feuds that dogged this part of Italy. As far as I could tell, Dante was a Guelph, and that wasn’t necessarily a good thing. There was also a multimedia presentation of Purgatorio comprising somebody intoning lines in English, then Italian, while we had Victorian engravings of various purgatorial scenes. It helped me remember why I never got past Inferno.
The best way to see the medieval city is to wander aimlessly, I think. We discovered a few markets and came away with a couple of leather bargains (suitable for a 9th wedding anniversary, apparently).
On the way back to Viarregio, I got the chance to have a good look around Firenze station, which is a lovely modernist masterpiece. Look at that font!
We also found the queen of all snowdomes to add to Charlie’s tacky snowdome collection:
That, and a fridge magnet/bottle opener, plus a multipack of Hello Kitty crisps made my holiday (and Charlie’s).
The food was…meh. Well-cooked, nicely presented and not particularly imaginative. Tourist food: but still nice, if a bit pricey. The coffee, even from railway station buffets, was universally fantastic, and the ice-cream was pure ambrosia. In fact, Charlie lived on ice cream and sea air for most of the visit.
We got a bit fed up with having to pay for the beach, but in return we did get a nice, clean, uncrowded spot, cafe and showers. I mean…what more do you want from a holiday? Apart from lots of books. Oh yes, we had those too.