Allora, so it rained all day yesterday. Giant puddles formed between the asymmetrical cobblestones lining the streets, reflecting giant church spires that danced in the movement of the water. The tour groups were still persistent and trudged around the piazzas looking like groups of coloured condoms in their ridiculous ponchos, desperate to still stick to their schedule and see all the sights.
I went to the Museum of Galileo which was impressive. Essentially a museum of the history of science it had many impressive and ancient collections from old telescopes, brain surgery instruments, time keeping machines and more.
After that it was time for a wine. I went to a local restaurant and order ‘un mezzo litro’ (half a litre) of house red. I sat and ate the best Penne Arrabiata I’ve ever had as it poured outside and streams of water cascaded endlessly from the ancient awnings and street umbrellas. I decided I’d try and bar hop the afternoon. Not an easy thing to do as, whilst Firenze is full of ‘Bars’ – these are essentially restaurant/cafes, it’s not easy to find a ‘pub’ where you can go and just sit and drink.
I remembered seeing one bar two days ago near the station, so I walked through the maze of alleyways trying to find it. The rain got heaver and began to stream off my rain jacket as I dodged increasingly larger puddles in my sneakers. After at least 30 minutes of trying to find it, I gave up and turned back towards the one bar I knew in Piazza Della Signora. I fell in the bar door soaking wet, and immediately asked for una birra.
The bar was staffed by two young students who were chatting amongst each other and then another couple sat beside me. The lady beside ordered in Italian which surprised me as she was obviously a foreigner. Anyway as you do when you travel, you talk to strangers – this is something VERY foreign for Australians, but give it try! Anyway we chatted away for an hour trying different beers and drinking Limonciello that was given to us on the house. The couple were from Costa Rica. Jaqui, an American had moved there and runs a business helping others relocate. Her husband, Konrad, is a Costa Rican and they met over there. Both of them are doing a 2 month long trip through Europe via motorbike.
We exchanged difficulties in learning Italian, travel stories and more. If you ever want to re-locate to Costa Rica, Jaqui is your person for it!
After they left, and I became increasingly intoxicated, and hence more confident, I began chatting with the staff. Both were students and both born and bred in Firenze. I told them I had planned to go to Perugia tomorrow but was reconsidering, so I asked them where would be a good place ‘sud di Roma, senza tanti touristi’ (south of Rome without a lot of tourists). One of the girls began drawing a rough map on a damp beer coaster telling me about ‘Puglia’ – Italy’s heel. She spoke of beautiful countryside, beaches, food and most importantly, a lack of tourists. So here I am, having a vino Rosso waiting to take the train to Puglia, not Perugia. I’ve never been south of Rome, so I’m excited about this.
My fear was this… I loved Perugia when I was there, but I loved it as a resident and a 23 year old student with local friends. I loved spending time with ‘miei amici’ and talking Italian sitting in the Piazza. I’m not sure I want to risk tainting those memories, returning as a tourist not knowing anyone.
It’s funny how these things happen. Had it not been raining yesterday, and I had not wandered in to that bar, drank with my Costa Rican friends and got talking with the local bar girls, I’d probably still be going to Perugia today, but now I’m off to Bari which is one of the main towns in Puglia. Hopefully it’s meant to be. The beauty of travel without a fixed itinerary of the ability to throw yourself in the hands of fate and see what happens.
I’m getting the train from Firenze to Roma, then Roma to Bari, then a local train from Bari to Passagnano di Mare where I’m staying at Alla Grotta Palazzese . Arrivederci FIrenze, ci veddiamo.