Thursday, 7 March 2013

European Road Trip Day 7 - Florence & Pisa (Tuesday 5th June)

I was a bit worried that everyone would be tired after last night's bed-bug escapades and evacuation, but everyone seemed fine, and we quite liked our new apartment, because it had a balcony overlooking a reasonably busy Florence street, and the sun shone on us while we ate our breakfast there.
We left our stuff in the apartment, and walked back to the centre of Florence, and first of all went up the Campanile of the Duomo. There was no queue, and Tom and Harry were let in for free (6 Euros each for the rest of us). I got pretty tired climbing up the first bit, but luckily it was divided into stages, so we could stop and look at the view along the way.
It was gorgeous weather, and the views were superb - the dome of the Duomo, the tiled rooves stretching out for miles, and the surrounding hills with fantastic villas on them - wonderful. I loved soaking it all in. Very happy to just be there.
The kids looking out from one of the lowers stages.
Long way down!
View from the top.
This photo gives some idea of just how high we climbed!
Looking down!
Afterwards we bought some souvenirs from a kiosk at the bottom, then sat in front of the Campanile for a while watching the world go by. We then walked a similar route as the night before, back to our new apartment. It was nice wandering through the less busy back streets and seeing little shops and glimpses of life there.
We were met at the apartment by the girl who had greeted us the day before, and she was really apologetic, and very nice (and we subsequently got fully refunded for our stay in Florence.)
We then took all our stuff to the car park place, and waited while they bought our car for us. Loaded up, and then while Scott was driving through the crazy streets again, the kids and I put up the bunting I had made to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. (60 years on the throne, today!)
We then headed to Pisa. Towers on hills were a common sight, on the drive.
In Pisa, we parked in a supermarket car park, and walked a short way to within the town walls, where suddenly there is a load of open green space, and there are the three buildings - the round one, the church, then the Leaning Tower of Pisa. (Are you impressed with my vast amount of historical knowledge, and descriptive powers?!)
We very quickly got down to the serious business of taking cheesy pictures!
We then went to the base of the Tower, where you can really appreciate just how much it leans!!
This is the last photo I took, before I DROPPED MY CAMERA and broke it!!!
We sat on the grass in the sun for a bit, while Harry and Tom ran around and did forward rolls like a pair of loonies, and I examined my camera. It could still take pictures - but very blurry, with high exposure, and unable to move the lens. (Like the one below). I was a bit gutted! (But surprisingly more calm than I would have imagined!)
LUCKILY, before the holiday I had been sorting out camera stuff, and come across my old little Sony point and shoot camera which had broken a couple of years ago. I'd tried it, and it started working again. (I think some grass had got stuck in the lens part and jammed it, but over time the grass must have dried up, and then fallen out when I tried it again.) I'd given Lucy the camera to bring on holiday, so she very kindly gave it back to me to use for the rest of the trip. The rest of the pictures are taken with that.
After walking back past all the tourist stalls, and the boys very seriously deciding which souvenirs to buy, we went back to the car park, and Lucy and I nipped in the supermarket to get the next day's lunch. We then drove a few miles to our next hotel. It was a villa in the commune of Lucca, nestled in the Tuscan hills... Oh my goodness... I fell in love with it!!! There were flowers everywhere, and I loved the steps leading up to the doors, with the stone balustrade. Inside was wonderful too - cool marble floors, and a beautiful grey marble staircase going up two flights. We had the top floor to ourselves, with two bedrooms and bathroom. I loved how the whole place had an elegant 1930-40's feel about it, with a beautifully dressed dressing table on the first floor landing, and a hat stand by the door covered with old fashioned hats, and the walls intricately painted etc. The owner greeted us, and said to feel at home, which the kids completely did - they just ran in and out, up and down the stairs, and in the gardens... no one else seemed to be about. I stayed inside just soaking up the atmosphere with a grey cat for company, while Scott settled in a sun lounger in the garden. I felt like I was in a novel - an Agatha Christie or something. It was glorious weather too.

The kids loved the couple of cats who lived there.
After a while we decided to head to the coast (Pisa marina) to get tea.
We parked easily and walked along the sea front for a bit, got seats outside a Pizzeria (along with a some German bikers!), and ordered a pizza each. Harry and I went inside and watched the guy make our pizzas in a proper old fashioned pizza oven, with a little stick fire inside it - cool!
It was lovely sitting on the front in the hot evening sun, looking out at the Mediterranean.
After that we went to a little protected beach bit, and played. The kids got totally soaked.
Harry and Tom had twin beds in one room, with Lucy in another bed in their room, and Jack had a bed in Scott's and my room. The villa had Wifi, so I had fun in the evening sorting through pictures on my laptop, and putting some on Facebook.

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