I recently went to Italy for the first time. I landed in Bologna, got on a bus to Modena, felt very excited about the trip… and then was intensely disappointed when I discovered that Modena is a shithole.
“What’s wrong with me?” I wondered. “Do I just hate Italy? Am I in a terrible mood for no good reason? Is it because it’s my first time abroad in over a year?”
None of the above, as it turned out. It was just Modena. When I went to Florence a few days later, I discovered breathtaking views, rolling countryside and delectable cuisine.
This was the view from the bedroom window at sunrise.
I could have just stood there looking at that view all day, but alas, there was work to be done.
Work was taking place in a convent: the Convitto della Calza next to Porta Romana. It’s the first time I’ve ever done digital forensics in a convent.
There are lots of very beautiful religious buildings in Florence and the surrounding towns. I didn’t go inside the big cathedral because the queue was huge. Maybe next time. But I took some pictures of the outside of it, which was stately and imposing.
Of course I needed some kind of antidote to all the Christianity, and luckily there was one right on the way back to my hotel.
The day I arrived, I wandered around the town and found this fantastic shop. I wanted to live in it.
Just down the road from the shop was Mangiafoco, a wonderful café that specialised in truffles. Truffles are my favourite things, and they also served very good wine, which is another of my favourite things.
It was a happy day.
My last full day there was spent wandering around the countryside outside the city. Instead of turning left onto the main road into town when leaving my hotel, I turned right and ambled aimlessly past olive groves and over hills and down little side streets.
I got completely, deliciously lost. I wanted to live in several of the houses I encountered.
Imagine that just being, like, the view from your kitchen. Holy shit.
Tuscany is an area steeped in religion and not shy about showing it. I loved all these Ave Marias recessed into the walls around town.
After a while I came across a river, and I wandered alongside it for a bit until I came to a kind of secret pebbly beach.
I sat there for twenty minutes or so, looking around to ensure myself of its privacy, and then I took my top off and sunbathed the afternoon away.
As I left I caught sight of this little ladder thing stretched along the bank. I’d love to know what it’s for.
Florence rocketed straight up the list of places I’ve been to steal the accolade of Favourite City. It’s very nearly Favourite Place of All, but it didn’t quite knock South Carolina off the top spot.
What’s your favourite city to visit?