Thursday, 6 October 2016

Escape to Italy I

The Arrival

At that hour the small town was quiet on a Sunday, but it could have been any time and the streets would have been just as peaceful. Sundays are sacred to the Italians. I made my way down dim lit roads. It seemed as if everyone was sleeping. Only occasionally did I pass a comrade traveller or two, but they were heading out while I was heading in. The air was so humid that within moments of stepping outside one was dripping. Google maps lead me down a secret maze to the Pisa Central Treno. It was empty; I knew the last train to Florence was at 10:30pm so I had about 20 minutes to figure out where to catch it. I dragged my overly packed carry on through the platform tunnel to the 1st and 2nd where a sign directed me to get tickets. I trudged up the stairs thankfully, managing my bag well enough.

It was dead empty; I starred as the lone traveller in the lonely train station. Of course, with today’s technology I used a computer to book a ticket, not to Florence but to Firenze Central. I scanned the screen for the platform and as quickly as my bag would let me manage, I rushed back to the very last platform, from which I had come from to begin with, of course.

I felt as if I was melting and the cool air on the train was fanning me back to life. I had no idea if I was accidentally in first class or not, I didn’t care as I collapsed in an empty seat. I opened my bag of clothes bursting at the edges and proceeded to ditch my trainers and leggings. I found my little gold Melissa shoes and put them on. I repacked as best I could, shifting a few things around. I pulled out my DK Eyewitness Travel guide to Florence & Tuscany and my hard core Italian Phrase Book and started to devise a plan of attack for tomorrow, also reminding myself how to pronounce things in Italian.  

It was 5 minutes or so before the train was leaving and it exploded with people, as if I was seeing the bars let out after last call. Mostly youths in punk wear. Some young lovers rushing to get the seats they could cuddle on. Within a blink of an eye my empty train was full of chatter in languages I couldn’t quiet comprehend. The Politza did a quick walkthrough of the train and pulled some youths aside to have a discussion with them. Obviously they had to get off the train. We were off and I was entertained by people watching for a time while the ticket master worked his way down the isles stamping our oversize parchments. I at least was able to practice Grazie.

A little after an hour we poured out of the train. My fellow train posses disbursed in every direction. The Firenze Astation became a bigger yet similarly desolate place as the Pisa Central. When in doubt follow the crowd; this of course took me to the wrong exit, locals were waiting on rail cars and buses to get them home, this I knew was not an option for me. I retreated back up the stairs, the annoying voice in my head singing, “You’ve over-packed” every time I stepped up. To the left lead me to the ticket station and the outside had the taxi queue, “thanks my lucky stars”. Upon my turn I attempted to read the address. Then of course handed the poor man my phone, to which he said, “So not in Firenze,” at which my head cursed “Oh shit!”. The rational brain took over and said for me, “No in Florence outside of the city,” and here was my first lesson about taxis in Firenze. They DO NOT like to ever leave the city to those little places on the outside. But he begrudgingly took me to Caldine which is right next to Fiesole…  several small dark windy roads later, I arrived at Agriturismo Montereggi, thus started my Art Escape to Italy.

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