August 23, 2015





Goodbye Vernazza, hello Florence


It was time to say goodbye to Vernazza. So in the morning we both walked to the bakery and picked up some bread, a Pesto Tart and a chocolate puff pastry. Once we were back we had a leisurely breakfast, then cleaned up the kitchen and packed up the rest of our stuff. We still had some time left, so we decided to take one last stroll through Vernazza. We left our apartment, walked down to the railway station and stopped at the huge poster that was hung there and showed Vernazza after a giant mud slide some years ago. Quite some time was spent looking at the poster before we moved on, past the bakery and some souvenir shops and soon we had reached the harbour.

We walked around a bit and took in the views, but all too soon we had to turn around and walk back to our apartment.

We needed to leave before 11am and so at around 10.30 we started to take down the last of our stuff to the car. Once everything was stowed we walked up one last time checked everywhere for forgotten items and then Tom drove the car out of the garage, which was not too easy as the winding driveway down was very narrow and I needed to watch out so we would not scrape the car at the sides. Once he was out of the garage, while he turned the car around I took the elevator up to our apartment, put the key inside the room as we had been told, closed the door and then I used the elevator until the second floor, got off, as in the meantime the gate to the garage had closed and walked down the steps to the street level.

The bus that connects Vernazza with some of the other small towns had just left when I got down and walked over to our car. With a heavy heart we bid Vernazza goodbye and went on our way. I was at the edge of my seat, keeping my fingers crossed that no one would drive in our direction as the street was a one way street for quite some time.

We were lucky and made good progress, even though we were driving pretty slow as the street was so narrow. After about half an hour the worst part was behind us and the street was narrow, but at least a two way lane. We were still driving slow as the view was so beautiful and you never knew what beauty would lie beneath the next corner.

And finally we made it to the motorway again and then we made good progress. At around 12.30pm we had made it to La Spezia and we decided to find somewhere to do some shopping so we programmed the GPS and it took us to a shopping center. We did some extensive grocery shopping since we did not know if there would be a grocery store in walking distance in Florence and after a restroom break we picked up some pizza and walked to the parking garage to eat the pizza in the car. It was pretty greasy so half of it was binned. Lunch done we headed back to the motorway and soon made good progress. The traffic got heavier the closer we got to Florence, where we had booked a small apartment.

When I first started planning the vacation I had booked us into a loft overlooking the Duomo, only to find out some time later that you cannot drive into the city centre. And even though they had offered parking with the loft, the company we would rent from would have to call the police and let them know our car registration, so we would not be fined. I started reading up on tripadvisor and many people complained that renters called in to late or never at all and they got fined anyway. So I heavyheartedly I decided to cancel the reservation and look for something outside the “ring”. So I came up with an apartment that got good reviews on tripadvisor and was pretty reasonable as well.

We followed the GPS and even though we listened to it, we got lost because we were in the wrong lane for the  “roundabout” that we just “did not see”. We later found out that the traffic goes round a park in sort of a roundabout, but from the street level it was hard to grasp. Finally we made it to our destination the La Farina Apartments. There was no parking in the street where it was, so we turned right in the next possible street and walked back to check in. The receptionist asked if we had a car and when we told him that we did he gave us a key for the garage to park the car before checking in. So off we went again to get the car. Car parked we headed upstairs to finally check in. This was one of the easiest check ins we have ever done. Everything was prepared, they had even prepared some maps and marked stores, bus stops and other interesting points for us. So about 5 minutes later we had paid for our apartment, had the key for it in hand and off we went to have a look at it. We had a little trouble getting the key to work, but when we finally did we were stunned. The apartment looked brand new, it was light and super modern.

We loved the open kitchen and dining area, complete with all the appliances you could wish for. The bathroom was sparkling clean and the bedroom with two separate beds had lots of storage space and large windows. We were super pleased with it, especially since the price of the apartment was very reasonable. It took a few trips to the car to get all our stuff up to the apartment and we unpacked just the few bags that we would need for our stay. And after that we headed over to the small grocery store that our receptionist had told us about.

Shopping done we set out to have an early dinner. We had lots of cold stuff and we had a feast. We were both a bit tired from the long drive and talked about staying in, but it was only early evening and the day was too beautiful not to go out again. So we walked to the city center which was about a 20 minute walk to check out the Duomo. It was easy to find and we walked all around, enjoying all the lovely architecture. There were loads of tourists around and after we had walked around the Duomo we decided on a break.

There was a small café and we got some ice-cream and water and later visited the restroom. Since it was still such a beautiful evening, we walked around a bit more, and walked past some beautiful squares and churches. When it started to get dark we looked at our map and headed back to our apartment. It was about a 40 minute walk from where we had gotten to and it had gotten really dark when we got in. Back in our apartment we made ourselves comfortable on the couch, grabbed a drink and some snacks and talked about this day’s events while we watched a little TV. And since it was so nice we stayed up longer than we had thought and only went to bed shortly before midnight.