11 – 12 July, 2015
After spending most of the day in the bus travelling from Engelberg in the Swiss Alps, and then fleetingly visiting Pisa for forty minutes, we finally entered the beautiful city of Florence. Seeing as it was already dinner time, we had about an hour to settle in, shower and change before we were whisked away to our dinner date.
I was so glad to be in Italy once again! After such a long time spent in the country, it felt like returning home after my brief experiences in Spain, France and Switzerland. All of a sudden I was surrounded by architecture I knew, chatter I understood, accents I recognised. I was back on my own turf, in a sense, which also felt really strange – I was an exchange student, Italo-Australian, I’d been living in Italy for months and now I was travelling with Australians. I was clearly an Aussie, but somehow I belonged to Italy too. Regardless of the odd duality, I was so content to be back and to be showing off my Italian heritage to my fellow Australians (and to have Internet connected to my Italian SIM card once more!).
After dinner, we headed to the Red Garter, an awesome karaoke bar in which our tour leader and driver engaged in some pretty cool singing battles. Check out the bar below:
The next morning, we were treated to a walking tour of Florence. According to law, only official guides based in Florence are allowed to conduct tours of the city, so we left Kaz, our tour leader, behind and headed off for the morning. The heart of Italian art, culture, literature and the Italian language itself, Florence is an impressionable city to say the least. Absolutely stunning, beautiful, captivating, mesmerising and unforgettable would also be appropriate descriptions. This was made all the more evident during our tour. Due to time constraints, we were treated to the ‘highlight package’ of the city, ticking off the major monuments and sites: the gold shops Ponte Vecchio, the Uffizi Gallery, the Duomo, Dante’s House. Despite the blistering heat, it was wonderful to gain a sense of the vast history and culture contained within the city.
After a quick stop at a traditional leather workshop and store, Leonardo’s, and an informative leather demonstration by staff, we had enough time to grab lunch before heading off to our next destination. It was back on the bus once again!
From the heart of culture and art, we were now directed towards the heart of the Empire: Rome!