I’m writing this from way up above the city of Florence having just walked miles to try to counteract the effect of Italian gelato.
Gordon, his cousin Amanda, and her husband Tim, came here way before lockdown for a little break when I was off on some tour with one of my singers.
They planned for us all to go back together one day and so, as European cities are opening up to tourists again, we headed to the land of pizza, pasta and gelato.
Italy never fails to amaze me with its stunningly beautiful architecture and scenery, and Florence is especially breathtaking in so many ways.
Before coming here, I would have conjured up a picture in my mind of terracotta rooftops and luscious greenery all around, and that image of Florence we see in photos is just how it is.
Every bit as beautiful, every bit as romantic and packed full of buildings which command so much attention.
Luckily the weather hasn’t disappointed, and when we aren’t walking around making sure we see all the sights, we are whiling away quite a few hours sipping espresso in the vast squares, watching the world go by.
Gordon isn’t as content as I am just to stay put, he likes to find out what’s nearby and see if he can possibly find a train journey we can go on.
I’m sure I’ve told you before that Gordon is a bit of a train fanatic, and for him, travelling on trains when abroad is a bit like shopping is for me.
However, although I tag along on his train journeys, I don’t see him spending hours in shops with me.
Mind you, I then don’t have to tell him about every clothes purchase. What he doesn’t know can’t hurt.
Anyway, I’m digressing from the subject of our little rail trip.
Pisa is an hour away from Florence on the train so off we went.
The only problem was that the beautiful sunshine of Florence seemed to disappear as we got further away and we arrived in Pisa in the middle of a thunderstorm.
I think I was a bit grumpy as I squelched towards the town centre in sandals with my smooth blow-dried hair turning to frizz.
However, as we neared the end of our half-hour walk, the sun miraculously popped out from behind the clouds and the incredible sight of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which really was leaning very noticeably in real life, was well worth the frizzy hair and a two-hour round train journey.
Sometimes we just have to make a wee effort, and once we are there we are glad we did.
Another train journey for Gordon was to a nearby football match, but luckily that was just a boys’ day out and the girls’ day out, which was shopping in the leather markets, was much more fun.
Amanda did her Christmas shopping and her friends and her sister are getting lovely Italian leather handbags.
I only bought one and spent £20 on it. I was very impressed with my bargain, which looked a bit like the bags some of the designer brands have at the moment.
However, when talking to the owner of the upmarket leather shop Amanda bought hers from, we realised mine was plastic!
We did see the funny side and at least I hadn’t spent a lot.
Apparently the stall owners take out a lighter and hold it against the leather to show it’s real, because if it was plastic it would melt. However, be aware if they ever do this for you that they only hold it for a few seconds and it would take a lot longer than that to melt!
I was the typical gullible tourist I’m afraid. I’m the idiot who went all the way to the Italian leather market and bought a plastic bag!
Call me old fashioned but I prefer to buy things with a price tag on them and a label telling me what they are made of!
I promised last week that I would kick-start my fitness and so far, so good. Walking around on a city break, you really do clock up the miles.
My diet hasn’t been so good though. Italy doesn’t seem to be the place to go to lose weight.
Pizza and pasta are bad enough, but there are fabulous gelaterias all over the city.
Apparently, however, gelato has fewer calories than ice cream, so it’s a win win situation after all!
Have a good week,