December 3, 2012

Pisa Florence Rome

2.5 days in Florence and Pisa

Italy has always been on the top of my list to travel, Rome and the Colosseum, the amazing pasta and pizza, now I can cross another one off the must-must-visits list. To go to Florence by flying to Pisa is a great way to save money; flights to Pisa are usually way cheaper, then from Pisa you can just take the Terravision bus to Florence for about €10, it only takes about an hour.

Our flight to Pisa landed early afternoon, and we went for a quick tour into the city. Pisa was quite small, bus ride was only 5 minute into town. We walked towards the leaning tower because that was all I really needed from this town lol, my first impression was that this was just another one of your typical euro city anyway. When we got to the leaning tower, I was surprised by the large open space with the cathedral and the duomo, it was quite pretty. Tons of tourists were taking pictures with tower of course – pushing, leaning, pinching, you name it. We didn’t climbed up tower or go in church, instead we just chilled on the grassfield a bit and went back to train station for a ride to Florence. That was definitely worth my 3-4 hours in Pisa, and you probably won’t need much more.

Florence felt a bit like Venice. Old city look and feel, with heaps of churches and museums around, which I didn’t care much for ;p We got a very nice city view from Piazza Michangelo, and realized how mega the Duomo was. We did a free city tour with a guide that looked quite unenthusiastic lol, but he had to do 2 tours every other day so I won’t blame him. Ernie had some fun times in Chanel trying on this “little blue jacket” while I checked the price of the WOC bag for Annie, it was very very nice and only €3700. Uffizi gallery wasn’t as insane as the Louvre; we saw the famous “Illustrator lady” painting, and a few other paintings and statues that I think they were famous. Original statue of David in the Accademia was quite stunning actually, but for some odd reason there were people jogging in the museum. It took about 416 steps to climbed up the Duomo, and I totally got fear of height walking along the wall inside the cathedral roof. Other than that, the inside was a bit plain and anti-climatic compared to the roof itself. Climbing up the Giotto tower might be a better idea because then you’d get scenery with the Duomo.

Food Highlight

Had good antipasti and pizza at ZaZa – the restaurant was a bit odd because there was 2 of them next to each other, and they both tell you we are the same restaurant… So who knows. Stumbled upon a random sandwich store on the way back from lookout point and had a really nice prosciutto parmesan sandwich. Giant Florentine steak dinner at a restaurant called All’Antico Ristoro Di Cambi – it took a while to walk to from hostel (and used £2 on my data to find it), but it was all worth it. Friendly staff, cheap house chianti wine (€4 for half litre), tomato mozzarella, tasty porcini pasta, super awesome tasty florentine steak. The steak was a t-bone steak that’s sliced by the kg, cooked rare and then serve sliced for easy sharing. One of the best steaks I had I think (I think I’m becoming a fan of t-bone). Visited a market and found a few places to try tripe sandwiches. We picked one and lined up, and when it got to us, they ran out of both risotto and bread to make the sandwich, so ended up with pasta and plate of tripes, still very tasty though. All that plus some gelato tasting through the city completed Florence.

3.5 days in Rome

After 1.5 hour on express train from Florence we arrived in Rome (Highly recommend to book train tickets online if you travel on weekend, you can also book regular train that’s only €20, about half the cost but takes 3.5 hours). Met up with Germaine and Deb and we just grabbed dinner at a small pizzaria across from the hostel – a special deal of €3 for pasta and wine. The ladies went back to hostel to rest (they had to get up at like 4 something am to catch flight) while we adventured into the city to visit some of the sights they already saw. Trevi fountain was probably the prettiest, busiest, and richest fountains I’ve seen, apparently it makes about 3000 euros a day from all the people throwing coins in.

I was pretty lost the whole time in Rome since the girls were the navigators ;p All the streets looked a bit similar, and every couple of blocks I’d find some random amazing statues/fountains/columns/monuments/palaces etc. Almost had a private walking tour, and I didn’t remember much of what he said, totally distracted by the scenery and the policia (there was a protest going on). There was soooo much to see in this city – went around the roundabout at Piazza della Repubblica, climbed the Spanish Steps, saw the Altare della Patria which was like biggest monument thing ever, past the Roman forum, entered the Colosseum, saw the Marcus Aurealis and shewolf statues in the Capitoline museum… etc. Even a random market we went to was in a giant plaza with fancy fountain and monument thing, and it was probably one of many many “normal” plazas around. This city was like… Too much history, too epic.

Vatican City had major line up for everything – everything really meant the 2 things you could see, the Vatican Museum and St. Peters Basilica. Just so happened to be the free entry day for the museum, so we went around 945 am to line up, and it took about an hour to get in (ignore the tourist trap where these “guides” tell you it takes 2-3 hours to get in and they can get you in right away with a tour for €20, the wait wasn’t that bad at all). It was probably the busiest museum I’ve ever been, the small door ways didn’t really help going through with the crowd either, but the statues, the paintings, even the ceilings, not to mentioned the spectacular Sistine Chapel where they constant shush you… so much “wow”ness, that I became a bit numb to it. The line up for St. Peters Basilica could rival the Eiffel Tower, and I think it was probably one of the biggest, grandest (if that’s a word) cathedral I’ve even been in either. Germaine levelled up to old nuns stalking while Ernie photobombed young solo lonely asian tourists while me and Deb watched in the Vatican City, good times.

Food highlight 

It’s a bit blur to me now, but there was very delicious pizza at Baffetto Pizza, and I had more tripes somewhere but it wasn’t as good as the Florence ones. Ate carbonara pasta somewhere on a hill I don’t remember what it’s called on the last day, but they made the pasta dish, and then mixed in the egg when it’s served for additional tastiness. Kinda all mozzarella and prosciutto’ed out in the end of the trip, especially when I got some more at the food market.

Would I come back?

Italians are quite rude and they could care less, Rome has way too much history it sort of overloads your brain, and I didn’t get to do any shopping at armani/gucci/prada. Yes, I would definitely come back, at least I gotta hit up the outlet mall.

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