What can you say about Florence..... The superlatives do not do it justice. The city has a special place in my heart because it was the first overseas locale Dave and I ever visited almost 17 years ago (holy crap).
We arrived in Florence in March of 1999 on a rainy night -completely jetlagged and bleary-eyed. It was the first time either of us had ever been outside of the US. We were so excited to be there, we took an evening walk in the light rain and stumbled accidentally upon the Duomo. No one else was around and the pink marble just glowed, its colors reflected on the wet cobblestones. I really felt like I was somewhere else. That moment was so amazing that I started crying right there, hello sappy.
I was expecting that same quiet vibe from 1999, where you could wander the old streets and have ancient churches all to yourself. Where you could wander into any restaurant the service and food would be amazing.
This was not the case, my friends.
Dear lord, Florence has changed. I sound like an old fuddy-duddy Luddite, which I am, but that city has changed and is absolutely crawling with Americans (gasp). You can tell they are Americans because:
- They are wearing work out gear, like running or yoga pants, sweatshirts, baseball hats, etc. Or worse - zip-off safari pants, where do you think you are the Serengeti?
- They are always carrying a beverage - coffee, water, soda, something. Why are we all so thirsty? Europe doesn't do to-go, sit down and enjoy your beverage goddammit.
- They are weird about food and try to custom-order everything. No gluten, no dairy, no pork fat, no onions, no garlic......exhausting. Eat it the way it comes for chrissake, the chefs know what they are doing and you came to Italy for an experience - not to eat like you do at home.
Everything was ridiculously crowded. We didn't even bother to go wait in line for 2 hours for the Duomo or Uffuzi, instead we wandered the city looking for views and solace.
|I had to get this far away to avoid the crowds.|
Following our long-standing rule "never eat at a restaurant on a square", we searched for small hidden restaurants to get away from the madness. Osteria Pepo was a highlight, but otherwise the food and service was universally unremarkable - I will blame the douchy tourists. We should have done more restaurant research. Luckily, we know how to make the best of things when all the restaurants and attractions are crowded.
I won't lie, I was pretty happy to leave Florence (something I NEVER thought I would EVER say). We took the train to Naples, the Circumvesuviana to Sorrento, and then the bus to Positano - I love mass transit. We stayed at the same hotel we stayed in when we got married 12 years ago (Villa Rosa). It was nice to be in a familiar warm place - also the views rock and the ocean is warm!
|You can hate me now, it's fine. I kind of hate me for this too.|
So what is up people, why are you ALL in Italy? Positano was also absolutely CRAWLING with coffee-toting Americans. You almost couldn't walk down the street because there were so many people. I was dying. I understand that cruise boats now make this town a port-of-call, and hundreds invade each day to buy lemon-scented candles or whatever for 5 hours each day. We had to revamp our plans for the week given how busy it was in town.
Luckily, Dave and I are experts at dodging crowds. In case you don't know, we use the 1 Mile/1 Percent Rule - meaning that 99% of the population will not walk more than 1 mile. So we walked the 15 minutes over to little Fornillo Beach, and as the theory holds - no one was there!
|All to ourselves|
We also took advantage of all the hiking trails in the area, including the Trail of the Gods to Montepertuso, Nocelle, and Priano. Holy cow if I ever go back to this area of the world, I am staying in Priano. It is quiet, half the price of Positano, and still a cheap bus ride to surrounding towns if you get bored.
|We earned this photo, loads and loads of stairs - but few people.|
|Hated it, not really|
|Dinner at the restaurant where we had our wedding reception - mushy-mush.|
Next stop.......Spain, and oh man is Spain the shiz!