Tuesday 19th April.
This evening we are parked up in the beautiful town of Gubbio (43.35074 12.565033). We visited here last year and it was Phil's birthday then and it's her birthday again tomorrow!
We left Lucca last Friday and set off for Florence. We found the Motorhome parking area we had recommended to David and Linda (43.75245 11.24486) and when we arrived, sure enough, their van was parked up. It was about midday so off we set for the cultural experience and caught a bus straight away just outside the campsite to take us in to the city. Every transport utility has different systems and it was only when the inspector got on the bus and checked our tickets that we realised we hadn't done things as we should. The driver sold us our tickets but failed to tell us to validate them on the big yellow box. The inspector took pity on me and didn't fine me the going rate of €40 but insisted I bounced down the bus immediately to kerching our tickets.
Florence deserves, nay - demands that you go with some kind of plan. Our plan was to wander around oohing and aahing at the architecture and popping in to the odd cathedral and museum. A bit of gothic here, a bit of Renaissance there - a few paintings, a few sculptures and bob's your uncle, finish off with an ice cream and that's all the boxes for Florence ticked. Hmm, the more cultured amongst you will already have seen the flaw in that plan. Pre-book tickets? That would have been a good idea. Narrow the plan to specific museums? Another good idea. Set the alarm for 5am to get to the city before the crowds? Even better.
We could have queued for 90 minutes for the Ufizzi Gallery or the Accedemia but settled on a visit to the Cathedral (free) and a look at the sculptures in the Piazza della Repubblica.
Here's a few pics:
Look at the crowds!
I've no idea why I have a photo of the top of this guy's head but, at least, everybody else seems to be in step:
So, we didn't do Florence justice but it's not going anywhere and there's always another year. To be honest, large cities hold little attraction for me now. Walking down streets thronged with other tourists and travellers, crawling round museums where you're constantly bumping into folk, all trying to get the best photos, the overpriced food and drink and the very concept that you "have to see it". But I've always been a bit of a philistine. We got the bus back to the van, this time making sure we validated our tickets, and met up again with David and Linda. We shared a bottle of Cava to celebrate their wedding anniversary and whilst Phil and Linda exchanged schoolgirl memories David gave me a few tips for the Düsseldorf Motorhome Show, which is on my list of places to go and told us of their travels in motorhomes in Australia.
After Florence we thought we deserved a couple of quiet days, that and the fact that we had an overflowing laundry bag meant a campsite (washing machine). So we set off for Cappanole in Umbria and spent the last two days doing not very much at all at a very tranquil campsite (43.44501 11.6184). A walk round the fields and pathways nearby where we saw the biggest Wisteria climber which looked like a tree as it had woven it's way through a couple of pines:
So this morning we set off for Gubbio and stopped on the way at Citta di Castello, which has a lovely old town with cobbled streets, alleyways, archways, a host of small churches and convents and an impressive cathedral and museum. Unlike Florence we were the only visitors. Unlike Florence everything closed at 1.30 until 3.30. But it was good to break the short journey and stretch our legs and the few chapels we managed to visit were beautiful.
Unfortunately it was raining during most of our visit but it cleared up by the time we got back to the van. A quick sandwich and a short drive to where we are now. As I said, we visited Gubbio this time last year and fell in love with the town, I also fell in love with the cable car but Phil can't say the same so we're giving that a miss this year. Rather than describe it again here's a link to last year's post, during which I got a bit excited about the situation in Greece at that time. http://withnoparticularplacetogo.blogspot.it/2015/04/from-lake-to-sea.html
And here's a pic of the guide from the tourist office:
Tomorrow being a special day we've checked out most of the restaurants in the town using a combination of trip advisor, menu viewing and asking anyone we met who spoke English "Where would you take your wife for lunch on her Birthday?" We've settled on this one: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187906-d1569285-Reviews-Picchio_Verde-Gubbio_Province_of_Perugia_Umbria.html
Full report tomorrow.
And here's a pic of our next vehicle - a classic, our vans in the background, partially obscured.