I am fresh from my backpacking trip from Italy. SOLO. Emphasis on solo. Lots of people do it and I was thinking it would be quite a liberating experience. Planning for this trip I know I could pull this off in Italy for the reason that if they don’t understand English, I can switch to Spanish and everything will be just fine which, I’m happy to report, is actually what happened. 🙂
20th of June I flew to Pisa arriving at its Galileo Galilei airport at 5 pm. There’s really nothing in Pisa but its famous leaning tower so my itinerary for that afternoon was to solely see it. Off to the left luggage I went, bought two-way bus tickets of 1.10€ each and I was on my way to seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
There were many tourists. Lots of Americans. All with the intention to get that creative shot of catching the tower’s fall.
Why I’m not one to be left behind. Check this next photo. I placed my photo by the Leaning Tower of Pisa side-by-side with its miniature from Mini-Europe in Brussels.
I spent about an hour in the area. The complex also has a cathedral and a baptistery. A little past 7 in the afternoon I’ve boarded the train going to Florence where I’ll be staying a night.
I liked the ambience of the hostel I stayed in, Academy Hostel. They even provide a reading lamp. Cool!
The Duomo is a stone’s throw away from the hostel.
I walked along the city center and my God there were lots of nice boutique shops. More expensive than the ones in Spain but this is Italian fashion and leather goods were talking about. There’s a difference.
21 June, Florence.
So still in Florence, I had to run an errand in the morning and catch a train which is an hour away. Since I left late than what I originally intended, it cut my sightseeing in Florence into barely 4 hours. By late afternoon I have to go to Siena already where I’ll be staying overnight.
So with my map in hand, I walked about the city center. Florence is a small city after all and best enjoyed on foot (so my map says).
Passed by San Lorenzo Market with its staple leather ware.
If I weren’t leaving Europe anytime soon, might have lingered around to find me a leather jacket. Faintly interested with the one the vendor is demonstrating to the tourists.
I was walking towards Pitti Palace and will be passing Ponte Vecchio on the way. It’s said to be the oldest bridge and has become a tourist attraction with gold jewelries dotting the strip.
Arrived at the Pitti Palace which has a 13€ entrance fee and the Boboli Gardens has a separate fee of 10€. I had to choose cos I can’t do both. The latter won since it was a hot day and I think strolling along beautifully-manicured gardens would be a good respite.
I was wrong.
There were hardly any flowers and the gardens aren’t well-kept in my opinion. Wasted my 10€.
At the time I was leaving the gardens, my phone rang. It was a lady from my hostel in Siena. She was explaining to me in very little English and all the rest in Italian, that I will not be staying at the hostel but in a different room. I told her to message me the address which she did. Got a little worried at this point. It said on their website that the latest check-in was 8 pm and my ETA is 7 pm. I was hoping to not encounter any problems in finding the said address.
I was eyeing to catch the 5:07 pm bus leaving for Siena. Decided that it will be better to go by bus since it would be more comfortable with the hope that the air-con will be much better. It was really hot in Florence and I could surely breathe in some cool air.
Arrived at Siena by 7 pm. Walked from the bus station going to my place for the night. It was about a 13-minute walk.
The person that received me is an old Italian lady who hardly speaks English. We conversed a bit in Spanish but all the while using hand gestures to be understood. We communicated just fine.
I went out to see the city by 8 pm, the sun will not set for at least another hour.
My one-night stay coincided with Siena’s white night. Shops and restaurants were open till late.
This is the Piazza del Campo where the Palio, a horse race, takes place every 2nd of July and 16 of August.
This balcony in front of the piazza is a good vantage point for the Palio. Reminds me of the much-coveted balconies of Calle Estafeta in Pamplona during Sanfermines.
Passed by this store, Menchetti. Saw from the glass window that people are eating pizzas standing up with high tables. I got curious and went in to take a look. The place never runs out of customers and you have to get a number by the cashier to wait for your turn to order.
They ran out of the flavor of pizza I was ordering, something with meat in it, so I bought the ones that they still have. These were just tomato pizzas but they were awesome! The best thin crust pizza I’ve tasted. Another great thing is that for these 2 slices, it only cost me 1.65€.
More strolling along the center and saw performers.
22 June, Siena.
The next day I still have time in the morning until lunchtime for sightseeing. The plan was to scale the duomo.
While having breakfast I asked the owner of the guesthouse why there are so many she-wolf statues with the twins Remus and Romulus around Siena if it represents Rome. She explained to me in Italian and throwing in a bit of Spanish, that Siena is Rome’s sister city.
Content with the new knowledge I’ve learned I strolled back to the city center and took a photo of the Piazza del Campo as seen from a little street. Little did I know that that would be the last photo my Panasonic GF2 would be taking for the duration of my trip.
To add to this misery, I left my back-up digicam inside my luggage at the guesthouse where I stayed. By the time I reached the duomo I was hoping that my camera would function again. Without a camera to capture the view of Siena from the duomo’s tower, I didn’t feel like climbing anymore. Didn’t want to walk 30 minutes and back to grab that camera either.
Left Siena a bit depressed but Rome was my next stop. It’s not a replacement and not enough to compensate but it should prove to be a good diversion. Heck I’m alone in this trip I should know how to console myself. 😉