Adventures In Italy – Part 2 – Florence
After spending several days riding and filming around Lake Como with our good friends Jean-Pierre and Gian Luca, Dave and I jumped on a train back to Milan where we made the connection to Florence.
I adore travelling by train, and as the only seats available were business class, we enjoyed roomy, comfortable seats and free snacks as we sped through the countryside. Once in Florence, we hauled our bags and bikes a couple of kilometres through the narrow city streets to our hotel for the next couple of nights.
Hotel Benvenuti was horrid; our room smelled of sewage and the walls were covered in water stains. To make matters worse, the night porter was a total asshole, and Dave and him spent over an hour arguing about the crappy internet connection – Mr. Night Porter simply refused to give us a new access code after the first one didn’t work. The day time staff were lovely, but still, what a dump.
To make up for fact our room smelled of actual poo, we spent a lot of time exploring Florence and even more time eating really lovely focaccia, pizza, paninis and cake. I’m a carb addict and was more than happy to indulge my habit and Florence is a dream to walk around – everything is very close. Although I’d planned to, I didn’t make it to the Uffizi or any of the other museums on my list as the queues were horrendous at all times of the day (even weekdays) but a stroll around Florence is pretty much like a stroll around a museum anyway – the buildings and piazzas are stunning in their own right.
The next day, we assembled our bikes and headed off for a ride. We entirely randomly picked a direction then just rode wherever we felt like going, one of my favourite things to do. After crossing the river Arno, we climbed a hill and were rewarded with an incredible view of the entire city – what luck!
After taking some snaps, we headed out of the city and into the hills of Chianti wine country. The scenery in Tuscany is so familiar to me from books, films and photographs yet I’d never actually ridden there. There was something about it that seems almost unreal – it’s so damn perfect and so ‘Italian’ that it almost feels like a stage set.
Despite my tattooed exterior I’m actually quite soppy and the beauty of the ride brought tears to my eyes – I could barely believe our fortune at pedaling our way through this exquisite golden hued landscape, past vineyards, castles, rivers and forests.
Not everyone’s heart was soaring like mine: we saw so many cyclists out enjoying the brilliant weather and made a point of waving at them all but none of them wanted to wave back. What a grumpy bunch! In the end we got two waves backs in the entire ride!
Somehow, we managed to sniff out a really enjoyable circular route with a few climbs and some fantastic descents. And we re entered Florence at Porta Romana right by the best ice-cream shop ever which we’d also visited the day before. I had another rice pudding flavoured ice cream. D E L I C I O U S!