Posts Tagged ‘Tuscany’

January 20, 2019

Italy – Tuscany / Rome

Though my daughter immensely enjoyed the trip (she especially loved the narrow cobblestone ancient streets of Rome, and the emptiness of winter at Tuscany), I’d rate it less than the trip I did for Japan and even Bali. A few hits and misses,

Hits (like):
Civita di Bagnoregio : It is a small town and perched precariously on top of a hill. Seemed simple but the whole experience of walking across a cliff to an ancient town, is special and memorable. I don’t think this place is going to stand for long and we were glad that we have visited this before it is gone.

San Quirico d’Orcia / Pienza : Serene and quiet towns in the region of Tuscany. The time we visited was beginning of winter, and there were no crowds anywhere. Similarly, a lot of shops were closed and we got the whole place to ourselves. The hike to the countryside in between these towns were epic, and it was one of the happiest moments in the whole trip (we did the galloping along the route to emulate the scene from The Gladiator).

Siena : I didn’t expect myself to enjoy Siena. During the planning, I’d always had the impression that I’m going to like Florence more, because there seemed to be more places of interests there. But I couldn’t had been more wrong. Siena is fucking dope, my friends. It felt different. The streets, the buildings, the view, the people, everything. I had the best pizza in Siena too. I fucking love Siena. It’s my favorite city.

The driving across countryside to Tuscany: The countryside of Italy is like a postcard picture almost the entire journey. Driving at dark would be such a waste (which we did not do, except the early start to Florence, which was still dark when we started). My wife took fuckloads of pictures, and we had an amazing time savoring the unbelievable views from the car.

The churches/basilicas/temples/all the POIs at Rome : Fucking amazing and beautiful, just as expected in all Europe. Everyone will have their favorite, and I got mine. I liked the St Mary in Trastevere and the one at Campidoglio. We’d go into the churches, and sat there for 15 – 20 minutes admiring everything inside. For The Vatican City, one would need the whole day to cover the entire place. We enjoyed the visit to the Colosseum, Capitoline Hill, and the Foro Romano as well (Rome can be both such a great and a shithole at the same time).

Misses (dislike):
No hablo ingles : Italy, despite being one of the most visited country in the world, is not an English friendly nation. Some places are English friendly, but those are the ones that are all out to butcher your wallet because you’re not Italian. However, it’s not hard to figure out Italian, as they use the same Roman alphabets for their language, one can still read and guess what the meaning on the sign is. But still…

The people : Italians aren’t the friendliest people I know. Had to be said. Apart from the driver I’ve contacted and the AirBnB host, we got negative hospitality from basically everyone there. Examples: Got yelled at when I inquired about the Accademia tickets at Florence, got yelled at (in Italian) by a man in military fatigue uniform when I – you got to hear this – put my bag too early on the table for him to check! (bag check to enter a museum). If you’re dealing with people selling shit in a shop, expect them to serve you with a face that looked like they’re dying. We had encounters of a restaurant trying to con us as well. From the airport to the museums, you’d notice that these people aren’t good in the hospitality business and they do not make you feel that you’re welcomed. But anyway, fuck them. Just do enough research/planning prior a trip to Italy, that’s all I want to say. (Italian stray cats, however, are extremely friendly to us. There was a cat whole followed me in Tuscany for quite a while).

The street peddlers around Florence/Rome : Most of these street peddlers are African, and they can be seen all over the fucking place in big cities like Florence and Rome. These fuckers are eyesores to the beautiful streets around Florence/Rome. They’d harass people, they’re annoying as fuck and they could be pickpockets in disguise (we didn’t encounter that though). My wife encountered an incident where she stopped to look for something in her bag, and this nigger came to her to be friendly and shit, and gave her this colored trinket string ‘for free’ he said… as a token of ‘friendship’. When he saw me walked far enough to the front, he started to ask for money from my wife. Terrified, my wife gave him EUR 0.50, and he said it wasn’t enough… so my wife gave him another dollar… and he skedaddled out of there like a rat. Fucking niggers kinda ruined our experience in Florence. In short, you’d not feel safe walking around the streets of either Florence or Rome.

The filthy streets around the big cities : The big cities are fucking filthy, and full of shit. I do mean full of shit, especially in Rome in the morning. I saw turds all over the narrow alley, and I even stepped on one. I do not know if it’s human feces or was it a dog’s but, I’d like to think it’s a dog’s. In the morning, the streets can be dreadful. Garbage and bottles strewn all over the places, and smelled terrible. They said the ghetto was a thing in the past, but I’d say, it’s pretty much the same depending on how you looked at it.

Neutral (meh…) :
Florence : Florence is amazing, no doubt about that. A few of my friends boldly proclaimed that Florence is their favorite city of all Italy. I don’t know about that but for me, Florence is just another big city in Europe that is filthy and too crowded. I enjoyed visiting the landmarks there, but that’s all I can say. I secretly wished that those landmarks weren’t in a shithole like Florence but, that’s just wishful thinking…

The food : The expectation was strong on the food, I have to say, only to be disappointed with mediocrity. Prior the trip, I told a friend of mine who owns a pizzeria that I’m going to find out if his claim of being kosher is valid. I was secretly hoping that his pizza was not as authentic as what he claimed after I’ve sampled some from Italy. But then, I found out that his pizza was actually better than most restaurants in Italy itself. He was ecstatic of course (that bastard). Anyway, to my opinion, food is not a strong point in Italy’s portfolio, despite what people claimed.

michaelooi  | places  | Comments Off
December 9, 2018

Tuscany (Florence, Siena, Pienza/SQ), Italy – Itinerary and planning (4 days) – part 1 of 2

part 2 here

I found a bargain back in January this year with Qatar Airways to Rome, so I planned for a trip there and just came back a week ago. It was a 2 week excursion (actually 12 days, if you minus out the long traveling time) – 4 days in Tuscany, and 1 week in Rome. My overall expenditure turned out to be lower than going to Japan (not surprising at all). Here’s the itinerary for you bastards who might be interested. Going to split the trip into 2 parts, one for Tuscany and another one for Rome. As usual, the customary disclaimer before you proceed…

– Actual travel time took 2 weeks. You’d need a day to get to Italy by flight, and another to come back. The place is fucking far. Refer to a map. If you choose to go by other means of transportation (other than flying), you’d need to allocate more time.
– Trip was done in mid November, considered winter season by the locals. This season has a relatively short day time. The itinerary takes account on that short daylight and compensates by starting earlier in the morning.
– This is an itinerary post, I’ll do a separate post for what I think about the places I’ve visited.
– This was planned based on 3 pax – my wife, my 12-yo daughter, and myself. I managed to hit 95% of what I’ve planned (with the exception of 1 particular day), with almost perfect timing accuracy. If you’re planning for a group of more than 4, this probably won’t work as well for you.
– The main objective is sightseeing and to experience both rural and urban Italy. The itinerary involves a lot of walking, with at least 11k steps (up to 21k steps) each day. That’s roughly about 8km – 15km of walking per day. If you have mobility issues, this is not going to work for you.
– The itinerary hinges on the assumption that you’d do your own planning/research on public transportation. You can choose to splurge on taxi or go easy by subway/bus, or even rent a fucking car/bike. Doesn’t matter. Just Google around for info. (for the record, the Tuscany part in this itinerary was done with a rental car – which according to me, is the most efficient way to get around between the places).
– If your religion prohibits you from visiting buildings or monuments of other religious faith, this won’t work for you too. (A lot of churches, including a visit to Vatican City).
– Some of the days are weather dependent, meaning, it cannot be done without a clear/blue-sky weather. You need to proactively check the weather forecast (when it’s within a week away) and shuffle the days around. I actually had to shift a few days around. One of my planned days did not happen and had to be substituted with an impromptu plan.
– I’m going to do something different with this itinerary sharing. Instead of including the time/hours like the actual itinerary, I’m going to just share the locations and let the readers plan it out on their own – as different assholes might have different ideas about spending time, so… why limit it?
– This is just my own planning and shared to give everyone an idea how to make it their own. It is definitely not the best, with individual preference, travel date and financial factors considered. If you think there are flaws with my planning, that’s probably because you suck or we simply have differences.

*warning: long post ahead…
Read the rest of this entry »

michaelooi  | places  | Comments Off