Saturday, October 18, 2008

Florence, Italy--Arriving in One Piece

We left Gubbio about 9 or 9:30 am after a wonderful breakfast at the Hotel Relais Ducale. My favorite breakfast was the one served at the Hotel Casafrassi in Castellina, though. The eggs. The shaved meats and cheeses. The coffee. The granola with chocolate. Served in a large room with windows in the back that looked over the pastures. Oh.

Sorry. Yes.

Leaving Gubbio.

Anyway, we had really enjoyed the hotel in Gubbio because one of the managers was American. Sean. From Boston or Philly. He had married the very attractive and personable hotel manager, Daniella.

Anyway, the hotel bus took us to our car, and off we went past the Roman ruins, the ampitheater I could see from my room. We drove past Lake Trasimeno, above, for many miles. It was a fairly long drive, 65km or so, and we had to stop for gas.

So we were to be at the hotel in Florence in time to meet our walking tour guide at noon. And things were going well. Cindy was driving. Traffic got more and more congested as we neared Florence. And then from everywhere came scooters.

In all colors. With all shapes and sizes driving them. As they wove in and out of the line of cars.

Cindy got tense. I got tense. Pam was drinking in the scenery from the back, serene in the knowledge she was safely in the back if the pilot and navigator blew it. TomTom was no help. There was no button for "avoid scooters" like there was "avoid tollways".

Cindy was still dodging scooters when I saw the Arno. She was on her own for a few minutes as I realized where I was. It was the ARNO, people. The Arno. THE Arno. Okay, we still had to make it to the hotel.

We crossed the Arno, and TomTom was doing his thing pretty well. But did I explain how narrow the old town center streets were? And how narrow streets confused TomTom? And how a confused TomTom sends you in circles? There must be programming in there under the subrouting of "when in doubt, circle". We did. Twice in our circling we went down a very narrow street lined with scooters. I wanted to knock them all over like dominoes, they were that much in line and lined up with each other.

We FINALLY spotted the hotel, and actuall got too far past it. We put Pam and the luggage out, and she went to get a porter to get the bags. Mostly we wanted her to check in with the tour guide so we didn't miss each other.

I got back in the car with Cindy, and we set off for the purportedly short ride to Eurocar. 3 (!) circles later, Cindy pulled up in front of the hotel and I went to get directions from the hotel staff. Who hopefully were not named Tom.

Off we went. We made two turns and realized that the road was ending at a sidewalk. Just over the sidewalk was another road. Where we needed to be.

Cindy drove over the sidewalk! In another country! Past and through pedestrians! Turning this car in could not happen soon enough.

So I kept one eye on the map and one eye on the street. Signs in major Italian cities were not like those in the US. They are much smaller for one thing. They only protrude a bare minimum from the front of the building for another. But I still spotted it. Oh joy! Oh relief! We would be rid of the car in minutes. This is the same car that I so loved driving around the countryside in Tuscany and Umbria, but circumstances change things, don't they?

At the counter we asked how to get back to the hotel and if they would call a cab. It had taken about 15 minutes to get to Eurocar from the hotel. The Eurocar attendant said he would call a cab, but it was only a couple of blocks. 5 minutes. Well, no matter. Nothing could burst the bubble of being relieved of a rental car in a historic Italian city with narrow streets and swarming hordes of scooters and a demented gps system.
Note: most of the images in this post I borrowed from the internet because - once more with feeling! - I took the wrong lens on my excellent adventure!

Next time, the Hotel de la Ville and Florence on foot.


  1. Oooooh! Next trip for me might have to be to Italy! No cars in major cities ... NOTED!

  2. Mol -- I love this trip down memory lane . . . let's go back -- tomorrow!!!!!




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