Whalechaser's Musings

No Matter Where You Go...
There You Are
Make the Best of It

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Florence, Italy --- Tuscany at Last!

It started as a gentle longing and grew over time, my desire to see Italy. Originally it was simple. My mission was to eat my way through Italy. But time can affect many things and after dreaming about this trip for some years, it worked its magic on this as well. Yes, I still want to eat my way through Italy but I also want to drown my vision in the vinyards and countryside that can only be Tuscany. I want to hear the conversations in Italian and most of all I want to see the old, not quite elderly, couples walking down the street hand in hand proud to be sharing their life and love. 

This year I finally made that dream come true. I spent seventeen glorious days in and around Tuscany; some on my own and eleven with the Sierra Club hiking from village to village. While on my own I found an inexpensive room in Florence. It wasn't in the downtown tourist section, so I got lots of walking in, but it was where the Italians live and that was worth everything.

At first I felt a bit guilty, yes, I know, that is very unusual for me, but I had no desire to visit a museum nor art gallery nor churches. My senses were saturated by the streets, the shops, the doors, the balconies, the sky everything but those two indoor very touristy activities. Before long I settled in and began to enjoy whatever it was I wanted to do. And...I have to say, I was very happy with all my choices.

I did arrange a few tours before I left home through a website called Viator; it was a great way to fill my days and I highly recommend any of the four tours that I did while there. So, here you see I am all smiles and enjoying my first Gelato. It was the first tour I was to take and it was a 2.5 hour biking tour of Florence. I am quite experienced when it comes to biking and I thought this would be  a great way to see the 'sites' and generally get the lay of the land. It did all that but be warned, the foot traffic in Florence is dense along with the cars, taxies and buses. It took all of my biking skill not to hit anything or to be hit by something. If you want to do this, do so with caution.
In case you think I may be exaggerating, this is a shot of the Ponte Vecchio, the historical bridge over the Arno River, and yes it is this crowded and yes I actually did bike through the crowd.
In Tuscany the wild boar is held in high esteem; by that I mean folks really enjoy eating it.
After my adventurous bike tour, I went back to an area that we rode through to grab my first of many delicious Italian meals. It was an outside cafe in an area that pulsed with life and enjoyment. So I leisurely enjoyed my feast of prosciutto with tomatoes and string mozzarella, wine, bread and olives.
Then they brought grilled pork and oven roasted potatoes
I had the gelato before dinner, so I skipped dessert.
But for the eyes, I had to get a shot of a typical street in Florence...or anywhere in Tuscany actually.

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