Monday, May 17, 2010

Nudity in Florence

After Paris I felt like I needed a good bath. So I caught a 5 hour train down to Nice, on the southern coast of Spain. And after a few days of straight rain, the sun once again showed its face for a beautiful day in Nice. I did some much needed laundry then walked around the coast where people sunbathed on a pebbly beach beside azure water without a wave in sight. I climbed a big cliff to look out over the view of the city with its terra cotta houses jutting out of green hills. This must have been the better part of France. That night I caught a train to Cannes for the red carpet opening of the Cannes Film Festival. I snuck into a restricted area with all the stalkers with step ladders and craned necks waving their cameras over the heads of the people in front to get the good paparazzi shots. It was funny to see what goes on around the red carpet, the parts you don't see on TV. The atmosphere was awesome with music and excited people everywhere, wannabe celebrities walking around in suits and glittering dresses... or maybe they were famous, but I certainly didn't recognise them. One Australian guy I met snuck onto the red carpet right at the end in his tuxedo with bow tie and then started pretending he was famous and signing autographs afterwards. I got a photo with him and then all the French girls were asking "Excuse me, but who is that?" I got my paparazzi shots of Tim Burton, Cate Blanchett, Salma Hayek, Russell Crowe and Eva Longoria (just to drop a few names) and then went to watch the Gorillaz play on a stage on the water. 

The next day I caught another 5 hour train to meet my sister Beth in Pisa, a town really only famous for one thing; a tower that defied the laws of architecture and physics. The highlight, however, was not the tower but the awesome hostel we were staying at. It was in an old monastery with 300 year old stained glass windows and an enigmatic owner, Marco who mad our stay very comfortable. Him and his Thai wife cooked us dinner which consisted of three different types of pasta cooked Tuscan style and some bruschetta washed down with some Sicilian red wine. We were like a big Italian family all sitting around the dinner table and after dinner Marco showed us his pet ferret. So that day Beth and I got some dumb tourist shots of us leaning against the tower and hugging the tower (I can't describe how stupid people look when they do this - see below and that was Pisa.

The next day we went to Florence, an old city most famous for Michelangelo's David, but there were plenty of other things to see, including a lot more nude Italian men in the form of marble sculptures. They really were amazing, but David did top the lot. He was massive and so perfect in every way and the expression on his face is so mysterious. It was hard to peel our eyes off him, but we braved the cold rainy weather (what the heck? this is supposed to be sunny Italy) to see some art and history in the museums then walked to a lookout to see how big Florence really was. On Saturday night we decided to test out the nightlife at a nightclub after having some dinner. Sounds simple, but in reality getting a good cheap feed on a Saturday night was near impossible. There were so many queues and after trawling the streets for ages getting hungrier and grumpier we scoffed down an expensive meal at almost 11pm. This was after Beth had been basically sexually assaulted by a crazy Italian guy who groped her on the street yelling "Ooh, Americano". We weren't sure what was more insulting; being considered American or being considered a sex symbol. We then met 2 Italians at a gelati stand who walked us to a nearby club. We weren't really that impressed with it, so we walked to another club called Babylon and this is where we really got a taste for how Italians party. The dancefloor was crazy. There were half naked DJs on the podium and other guys in nothing but jocks and sunglasses dancing next to them, while the barpeople sprayed everyone with champagne at regular intervals. In fact, the bartenders were so drunk I managed to score quite a few drinks for "free". After getting quite a lot of Italian male attention, Beth and I decided to escape back to our hostel before we got groped again.
The next day we had a stressful morning dealing with banks and phone companies (both of which are evil) before finally boarding a train to Siena, which was gorgeous. There was a major soccer game going on there, so the streets were eerily empty of tourists and people, which was a nice change. Crowds of people who obviously couldn't get tickets to the game were sitting on fences and at the gates trying to watch. At one point people went absolutely crazy with flares and cheering, jumping up and down. I'm pretty sure their team scored a goal. I have never seen Aussies so passionate about football, it was contagious. So in better spirits we walked around the stony streets of Siena with burnt brown houses jutting every which way and a big cathedral on the hill.

But yesterday Beth and I parted ways as I was scheduled to meet a family who live in an old farmhouse in Umbria and Beth was off to Rome. I am going to help them with some gardening and entertain their two daughters for 2 weeks while they give me a place to stay and some food. Sounds good to me. Now if only the weather would clear up, it will be just like a scene from Under the Tuscan Sun (technically I'm in Umbria, but it's right on the border with Tuscany).

I will tell you all about it next time. Now I'm off to bed.
Buona notte,

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