On to Florence

After a relaxing day on the French Riviera, it was time to continue our journey. We were headed to Florence.

Unlike regular drive days, this one was broken up nicely. We had an early stop at a perfume factory near Nice and stop off at Pisa in the afternoon.

The perfume factory wasn’t far from where we were staying, and sounded exciting at first. We had a tour through the ‘factory’ but it was more of a detour on the way to the shop where they hoped to sell their perfume. We were able to see the distilling towers in which they normally make the perfume, and the press where soaps are moulded/cut. We also saw the people bottling the perfume and wrapping the soaps. After the tour (it was only about 10-15 mins) they took us through to the shop, gave us some samples to smell then tried to convince us it was a bargain to buy direct from them. Even though it was obviously a sales pitch, it was nice to stretch our legs and see behind the scenes at the factory.

After a bit more driving and a lunch stop we came to Pisa. Pisa wasn’t quite what I had expected. The tower itself was just as I’d seen in photos before, but where it was located wasn’t at all what I had imagined. We were dropped of about a 10 minute walk from the tower (this seems to be the way whenever we visit somewhere – parking must be cheaper or something…) Anyway, we walked through a suburban area, past a lot of houses and a few small parks. It looked like a cheaper suburb, with a lot of houses run down, and lawns going crazy. I had thought that the tower would be in a small town at least.

Also, there were a lot of people selling imitation sunglasses and hand bags. We’d been off the bus for about 30 seconds when three separate sellers approached the group trying to sell their wares. There was a crowded market lining the street leading to the tower as well, all selling similar Pisa souvenirs.

We took a few photos at the tower (holding it up, pushing it over, pulling it down…) then had time for a quick gelati on the way back to the bus.

In Florence we were staying in a campsite a little way out of the city. The campsite was huge, with swimming pools, a couple of restaurants, a bar and a discotech. We had a huge Italian dinner (two different types of pasta, a whole pizza each and gelati), then made our way down to the discotech to dance it off. It was a fun night, although a little bit weird because there were a few kids a lot younger as well (the drinking age is 16 so we were all oldies for the night).

There were three beds in our room, and only two of us, so it was nice to have some extra space to spread out as well.

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Dear Derek, other friends have said the same about the Leaning Tower of pisa—that it seemed to be surrounded by such ordinary suburbia! Is the pasta delicious in Italy or no better than ours? i guess even the gelati would be yum. try everything–you can always lose the pounds later and you will always be slim. Florence sounds lovely. Love Kathy oxoxo