In talking to a lot of North Americans, I found that many of them would choose Florence as one of the first city to go to if they ever went to Europe. I was, however, rather disappointed by Florence. Not that there aren’t many things to see, Florence has a lot of galleries and museums that are certainly worth visiting. But maybe there were just too many tourists in my opinion, making you feel like you have to see and do certain things there as opposed to exploring it while you are there.
Syb and I arrived at Florence’s big train station and asked about campsites at the tourist information. The first thing that comes to my mind when somebody mentions Florence is “heat”. It was darn hot during our whole stay and we would sometimes start arguing over completely insignificant things just because the heat killed our brains. We took the bus they recommended and followed its route on the map in order to get off at the right time. Joined by some other backpackers, we got off the bus and made the rest of the way without transportation. Which turned out to be a hassle. The heat and the hill to the campsite made our backpacks appear three times as heavy so we had to stop at times and take a break. The site was right beside a youth hostel so we could sneak in and use their washrooms. They were showing movies in the basement in English but due to the stone walls, it was so hard to understand that we left after five minutes. There were a lot of Americans and Canadians in the youth hostel, apparently many of them stayed in Florence for most of their trip. We spent the evening on the youth hostel patio, talking and trying not to get stung by mosquitos.
The next day, we went to the city centre of Florence. We wandered around the city in the heat. Even the popsicles we bought weren’t of much help. We went to the dome (see picture), checked out some of the tinier streets and finally ended up sitting on a bench watching tourists. After a while, we went to a more commercial (in a shopping sense) part of the town. One really has to be careful not to be run over by a motorcycle. The primary means of transportation in Italy are these small “Vespas” and if you look right when crossing the street one of them is very likely to come from the left.
We went to a supermarket close to the campsite. I remember this guy (maybe 17 years old?) sitting in front of the grocery store, asking for “spare change”. However, he was wearing one of these pretty expensive “Stussy” t-shirts, a Stussy cap, and a new-looking backpack. I have seen people like this in Vancouver as well. They have enough money to buy brand-name clothes but then they ask you to spare a dime for “food”. Maybe they are trying to get money for a new pair of Nike™ $290 sneakers. For some odd reason, Syb and I ran into a big argument. I can’t even remember what exactly caused this trouble. In the end, we knew that we were just annoyed by the never ending heat, whoever happened to be around was subject to our frustration. We went to our tent and cooked dinner.
The day trips proved to be a good idea. Pisa wasn’t that far away. The next day, we left our tent in Florence and went to see the tower of Pisa.