June 16, 2011

Breakfast in Venice, lunch in Pisa, dinner in Florence (Day 6, 15 June)

It just keeps getting better each day! Well, the hotels could be nicer but we’re hardly in the rooms. Aside from that, the scenery is amazing, we’re seeing all the famous landmarks and sights, eating till we can’t eat no more and just generally having a good time.

We left Venice at about 8.30 am this morning, just after breakfast. Me and ma didn’t really join in the breakfast because there was finally a kettle in the room and we could have our instant noodles. Apparently we didn’t miss much though, heard it was very basic.

While waiting to depart, Ma went up to say hi to Mr Iswaran. He was pleasantly surprised to meet a fellow Singaporean and chatted with her for a couple of minutes, introducing his wife and daughter.

I had to interrupt because our group was leaving, he asked for my name and introduced me to his family as well and then we bade them farewell and rushed to join our group. After driving close to 2hrs, we stopped for a break in Bologna, before continuing on to Pisa.

A little McDonald’s train took us from the carpark to the tower, it was a few hundred metres away and the heat was punishing. The leaning tower, as well as baptistery and church were surrounded by a high wall, and when we entered, there were masses of tourists but yet we could still take decent shots without the background being too crowded.

Everyone was doing funny poses, pretending to push or hold up the tower. It was magnificently white, the church and baptistery equally dazzling but we didn’t purchase tickets to go in, so we just admired from the outside.

Our stop was only 90 mins and during that time we were supposed to get lunch too but me and Ma only stopped to buy food 30 mins before leaving. I had a ham focaccia and we shared a lemon granita that was refreshing on a day like today…blistering heat!

It took another 90 mins or so from Pisa to Florence and I snoozed as soon as we checked in. So tired from all the early morning starts!

We signed up for the optional excursion dinner this evening, Mark brought us to a restaurant high on the Tuscan hills called Montebuoni. After welcome drinks, the owner Emilio provided us with a risotto demonstration that we tucked into when it was done, along with a host of other dishes including crostinis, pasta, roasted meats, potatoes and salads.

We sat with Ashraf and Ahmed, Jim and July as well as an American family of 4, from Columbus, Ohio.

The restaurant setting was really lovely, could hear the birds chirping as we gazed down into the valley. There was some lavender pots, roses, and bougainvillea as well as a lemon plant. It was a steep drive up and down though, we all applauded when our driver Natale successfully navigated the sharp bends.

The group is bonding and warming up to each other, could be also there was a little too much wine at dinner earlier that the bus ride back was entertaining. Natale went round a roundabout several times on purpose, Mark threw on some Dean Martin songs that made me feel like dancing, especially Mambo Italiano as we cruised down back to the city.

It was a truly enjoyable evening, as we got to see dusk settle over the hills. I shall consider this an appetiser to Tuscany, there are so many things to do and so little time, I think I must come back with Nick one day.

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