Thursday, October 13, 2016

Etruscans and Florence

After our fun in Naples and Pompeii we hopped a train for Rome.  We didn't want to visit the city itself but had read of Etruscan ruins north of the city near Civitavecchia and Tarquinia.  There isn't a lot of evidence of the Etruscan civilization but there are ruins.  We thought we'd rent a car and go check out a couple sites.  Unfortunately we didn't account for the Italian desire for a day off and showed up on Monday when both the sites we wanted to visit were closed.  Bummer! 

We did get a little insight into driving in Italy and it paved the way for our second, longer, car rental.  The roads in Italy are generally excellent.  Even where we were driving on 'local' roads they were great with guardrails where needed and just in good condition.  The car we rented was a Nissan Micra which was pretty small but adaquate.  Speed on the motorway was in the 90 to 110km range (60-70 mph) and the car was comfortable if not quick to accelerate.  I have to admit it's been a while since I drove a stick but it comes back quickly if that's what you've got.

We spent the night in Tarquinia at a small hotel.  We started our dinner at a table out by the swimming pool but had to retreat to the dining room when a rain shower came by.  The next morning we returned the car and got a train to Florence. 

Florence is of course considered to be the birthplace of the Renaissance and is filled with museums dedicated to that time in history.  We started out walking from the train station to our hotel.  It was a LONG walk let me tell you.  But it is Florence so you tell yourself to get over it!  My wife used Trip Advisor to book the hotel and when we arrived in Florence we used the mapping feature to lead us to the hotel.  That's another use of that phone data plan that we had and very handy it was.  In the end we were just about three blocks from the Galleria dell' Accademia and perhaps eight blocks from the Duomo.  There would be a problem with these places:  tourists!  This is the line for the Accademia.
 Then there was the line for the Duomo.  These people were standing in front of a sign warning that if you are standing in the line here it will be an hour and a half wait before you get inside.
The fun part for me is just walking down the street and seeing this in the distance.  It also gives you an idea of the not huge sidewalks!  Well, in the tourist areas people did walk in the streets a lot.

You can buy tickets from your hotel that will eliminate the wait but it costs an extra 4 or 5 euro for each person.  Well, we went for the Uffizi but decided to skip the others.  It wasn't the cost that swayed us but the crowds.  Here is Botticelli's Birth of Venus as it actually looks:
How can you enjoy something with 10 people in front of you?  Of course there was usually someone elbowing their way to the front of the group and taking a photo of it or even worse a selfie with them next to the picture.  Grrr! 

When it came time to leave we splurged on a taxi to take us to the airport.  It wasn't much of a splurge.  It was 25 euro and the bus would have been at least 10.  The Florence airport is rather small but they do have rental cars and that's what we were needing next.  We wanted to travel in Tuscany, Chianti, Emilia-Romagna and other provences by car so that's what we needed.  In the end we drove almost 1,200 km around central Italy.  That's for another post of three.

As an aside, the family accountant (aka my wife) tells me we spent approximately $8,400 on our month in Italy including the air fare, trains, the car and everything.  We are pretty good at keeping receipts so that's pretty close to correct.  I don't think that's bad at all!  Take care and thanks for stopping by.

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