Friday, November 19, 2010

First Impressions of Firenze (Florence)

A long and delayed train trip has brought us safely to Firenze. The scenery out of Rome changed very much from old neglected buildings to beautiful green pastures and country sides with stunning farm houses. In Leon's own words, this is more the kind of scenery you see in the Tour de France coverage.

Immediately when we arrived in Firenze the atmosphere was more relaxed. The people aren't as aggressive or rude, still not that much friendlier, but already better. Cars aren't allowed to drive in many of the streets, so people stroll leisurely in the middle of the road making way for the odd bicycle, scooter or bus. It is also not as busy as Rome. So already I take back my previous words, maybe I'll give Rome a skip next time, and come straight here.

Our apartment is much smaller than the previous one we had, with barely space to unpack our clothes, but this is made up by the fact that it is decorated much better, and the owner has provided much more for travelers. The previous apartment we had to buy our own condiments - sugar, salt, oil for cooking - stuff you have to buy a full packet to only use a little bit of in the short space of time you are here, and I was the one to carry this heavy grocery bag on our 5km walk to the station! In Firenze however, everything you need and more is here. Salt, olive oil, vinegar, spices, tea, coffee, sugar. Even in the bathroom - shampoo, soap, body wash, shaving cream, plasters, cream, enough toilet paper for 3 weeks! The owner even took half an hour of her time drawing all the markets, supermarkets, good but less pricey restaurants, sightseeing recommendations, how to get there, suggested day trips. She was very kind and helpful, and if Leon wasn't in such a hurry to find food I am sure she would have spent a much longer time with us. They have even given us the password for their Wi-Fi connection.

We have done a little bit of exploring already, doing a lot of it in the rain. It seems many people own shops here where they do for a living what they have a passion for. We walked past a wooden furniture shop where you can see the owner busy building the furniture in the back, a guy who covers chairs, a clothing maker, a guy who makes fresh pasta - we'll stop there first!

So in my 5 hours in Firenze I already like it much more than Rome, and I'm guessing I'll be able to fall in love with this region of Italy.

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