Friends and family never expect us to go on vacation! For some reason, they think that running a 22 acre olive farm, growing your own food and running 3 businesses is a walk in the park. After all (they say), you don’t drive to the office, work 10 hours, then drive home anymore.
Well, that’s true. Our office is just outside the door, and our days are often longer than 10 hours, but we do work pretty hard, and it’s nice to sometimes have a change from all that.
So, anyway, back to our vacation – in Florence for 4 days, then Milan for 2. I love Italy, always have – we used to go on vacation there once or twice a year, staying at a converted mill about an hour from Pisa. In fact, when we were thinking of leaving the rat race, Italy was first on the list – until we tried to buy there! Houses? Easy to buy. Land? No one in Tuscany sells their land.
While in Florence, we stayed at a flat about 10 minutes from the Duomo (see http://www.rentopflorence.com/en_SAP_home.htm, we stayed in flat “Lily”). The flat was gorgeous, convenient, and homey, all we could ever want!
We did loads of walking (and eating!) while in Florence. The food there is the best outside Thailand, in my opinion, and I think I ate pasta every day of our stay! The walking kept most of the food from hitting our waistlines, and was very enjoyable. The Uffizi, the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio – all fabulous. We also enjoyed sitting in a cafe and people watching- one of my favorite vacation pastimes (and one I remember my father enjoying, too).
Florence has a reputation for being very expensive, and we found that to be quite true.
There is such a contrast between the wealth of many of the visitors, and some of the hard-pressed citizens, especially the elderly. You could often see them begging on the streets, while women in full-length mink coats walked by, unseeing.
It was nice to spend time together, just the two of us, with nothing better to do than walk, drink a tiny cup of potent Italian coffee, or maybe a glass of wine. Just mosey along, as my father would say. Lovely.
Before we left, we spoke to the charming owner of the flat we stayed in – Roberto. He took a few minutes to talk about the city he loved so much. His family owns a few flats in Florence, all of which they rent to tourists. “Everyone does that”, he said. Residents of the city can no longer afford to live there, and if they have property, they rent it, they don’t live in it. “Florence is becoming a rather charming version of Disneyland”, he said. Statues, museums, cafes and restaurants all for the tourists, with no one actually living there. Nothing can be done, he said, it is already happening.
So on that somber note, we left Florence, still one of the friendliest, most charming and historic cities in the world. One that is in danger of becoming a caricature of itself. On that note, if you haven’t yet seen enough of Florence, take a quick look at my video.