Category Archives: Trips

My trip from Florence to Chianchicano Terme

I spent two nights in Florence and then had to catch up with the pilgrims.

Patricia told me it was easy to travel. Easy, yes, but straightforward, maybe not. I bought my ticket 40m from where we were staying. They were very helpful, and told me two facts.

  • This was not from the usual railway station. This was quite good, as I would have gone to the wrong place. Firenze SM is not Firenze.
  • I had to get my ticket validated before getting on the train. Which was also good to know. I messed up this simple act trying to stick my ticket in a machine and had to get human intervention. But, when I caught my bus later on I knew what to do and actually helped someone else.

I caught the tran. But only just. It came to the wrong platform. This woman said to me “Do you speak English?” and then “If you are looking for the train in platform 5 to Naples, it is her now in a different place” I only just got it.

itflortrip.jpg They even grafitti their trains!!

She turned out to be an Interesting Person of whom I met four over the course of the trip.

  1. She was an artist, from England, had been here for years and lived mainly in Florence. She told me she had had enormous trouble finding suitable accommodation, and that Florence was good to learn art, but bad for painting. To cold in winter. To hot and insecty in summer.
  2. On the bus I met a couple from Genoa (which is pronouced Gen-oo-a) who they described as Italy’s Riveriera. They were ‘not on holiday’ but there to ‘drink the waters’ which were apparently very good for your health. Specifically your liver. Terme as in where we were staying means ‘springs’.
  3. The next person was (wait for it) – traveling with a choir. She was German-Swiss and did a yodelling mass.
  4. The last person was not from Italia, but had learned English from videos and was working 7 days a week in a hotel here to earn money, having left her young daughter home in her country of origin. I felt both huge sadness in her and yet she had quite a remarkable resilience. She did not lke her job and was trained in commerce.

I caught the train.

itflotripfasttran.jpg Talked to the artist woman the whole way, then a bus which took the country route to arrive 5 minutes before tea, at Hotel Susy. Tea was 5 courses. Salad > soup > pasta > meat > dessert. Broccoli pasta. Can you imagine this with 26 girls? But noone went hungry. We planned the next day: Siena for a mass and tour.

Concert in Florence. The best yet . . .

This was superb.


The usual well organised chaos afterwards.


I actually felt quite proud to be a New Zealander with the final Pokaricariana item.

Friday News. Found my cell phone, it is with the bus company. Met Philipa for lunch with the others from cpsquare. Fed 8 people for Lunch for 20 Euros – lovely ham, olives brown bread and tomatoes. Have decided to stay on tomorrow and catch a bus to the next stop. Some people a little sick. But generally all very OK and bouyant.

Whimsey in Italy

Lots and lots of little dogs . . . here is our hotel lady. It’s off season and not much to do . . .


Why it is so hard to shop sometime.


Odd toilets in Motecatirni . . . Square??


What a cool place to work . . . the middle of Florence. This is Sebastian and FEB Consult.


Muckabout in Florence: Friday

I’ve joined up with my cpSquare online friends at this little place in the middle of Florence. It is fantastic.

Here is the agande and questions . . .


Here is the view from our meeting-rooftop.


Mark . . .


Who needs to visit the Duoma dome . . .



We basically talked until 11.00pm before someone announced Jet lag. Covered a lot of things, set up topics for Friday . .

Uli, Patricia, Beverly, Mark, Sean, John and I. Etienne arriving tonight, and Andy tomorrow.

Monticatini Terne, before Florence

No Pictures at the moment. I have a problem with the images, and they appear in microscopic form other than full size. I think I know what the problem is – it’s a small java (a special web program) matter, but the language barrier is too great in the internet café type places. I cannot fix it myself because everything is in Italian. This is an enigma to me: here we are in the middle of tourist heaven, it is a few clicks to change the language yet no-one provides this option, and the service is poor – and I’ve been in lots of places, some I don’t even get past the first sentence and decide they are too slack. And I sometimes think they don’t care.

We tried to buy water off a street seller last week. There was no other buyers around, and he literally ignored Phillipa and I. We went to the next seller who obliged us.

Lost my cell phone yesterday on the bus. Boy, do I feel naked. Especially since I head off by myself into Florence today for 36 hours to spend some time with some of my online buddies. 11 of us, in a small villa claiming 360 degree views. This place is 4 blocks from this evenings’ concert, and about 15 blocks from our bus drop off point. Which is quite amazing really considering the two itineraries had nothing to do with each other.

And speaking of buses, we pay €260 $NZ520 a day per bus tax to have us dropped off in Florence, and the buses cannot even stay there. They keep saying this is the off season. Scores of hotels at Jesolo were shut for the winter on 1 October.

Motecatini Terne (51 km outside Florence) is amazing, like a quiet fairy town. 220 hotels and 14,000 beds, so the brochures say. Huge health spa, Pinocchio’s birthplace, gondola up to a hill top ancient village, lovely markets, little traffic. We got here early enough so as to rest up and chill before two busy days in Florence. The place rang with music for a while yesterday as sectional practices took place with the choir. I continue to be amazed at the professionalism of the choir members in tacking the tricky bits on their own, and keeping up.

I spent a very enjoyable 2 hours wandering around. Saw some nice modern art for sale if I had had a spare €860

The water is a bit murky here, the first place like this.

The food was great last night – 4 courses. :-) We still are struggling with the sweet breakfasts. Oh for some Molenburg and Vegemite. I was surprised to see people stop off and buy the same sweet croissants that almost none of us will bother with eating at breakfast.

Seen my first English TV yesterday. CNN. The Italian soaps here are the same as everywhere else in the world, but Homer Simpson in Italian doesn’t quite cut it. Dragon Ball Z is still much the same. Some great ads. There is an Italian Infomercial Phrase which I think means “But wait, there’s more”.

Everyone is sort of well, some bad insect bites, and stuff but we are OK. I’m on Codral Cold, Tony is on Berocca, Yvonne is on juice. Some home sickness. Pilgimages are a mixed blessing in that respect.

Phillipa, Marie and Rosemary make a good team, and we are generally pretty organized. We could not have survived without Tony.

Added bit: FRIDAY

PICTURES WORKING. Leaving Jesolo . . .



Our irrepressible receptionist . . .


A last coffee . . .



Purchase . . see the shoes.


Bus provided two kinds of drinks . . .


Bus conversations . . .


he beach . . . desserted.


Arrival at Motecaterni. Organised chaos.



You can’t take some people anywhere – on the Borgalase Museum.


Tourists carry books on the local environs.


Tourists travel 23 hours to Rome then Venice then buy stuffed Rabbits.


I think these guys do this in Christchurch as well.


Borgalase again . . .


Tourists carry shopping bags everywhere.


Tourists ride in funny bikes.


They sometimes need a courier/guide.


Tourists buy stuff.


LIKE THIS cool sweatshirt


Tourists pose for photos all over the place.


Sometimes they drape themselves all over the footpath looking tired.


Actually, it’s pretty hard work being a tourist. Why is it we cannot head for the pier, or the gondola back home and have a genuine holiday in our own backyard?

  1. We are too stressed.
  2. We don’t have a collosseum there.
  3. We take the things in Christchurch for granted.ù
  4. ??

But really we are pilgrims in this once-in-a-lifetime trip of ours. Puts a whole different light on things.

Who’s Blog is this?

Some one asked me why I didn’t sign my name on these posts. That’s because this is my blog, and it’s always me who writes. Except the comments, that can be anyone. Any day now someone may discover this blog and start spamming it with ads for things we don’t want, but we are safe until then.

And Dave, yes it is me. :-)

And another question, why another blog? I did this mainly for my Mother who is travelling somewhere in Europe and while she has e-mail, it’s not easily accessed via the net, and this way she can check in and see how we are going . . etc. And there are a few other miscellaneous friends also checking in. But after Italy is over, this will revert to more mundane life in Christchurch. I actually like blogging.

I was interested to see a book on Blogging in Italian.


I guess everyone should have their “How to start a blog” post. I will do this sometime. There are lots of blogs on cats, food (cheese sandwiches in particular) and on blogging itself. Just to keep with this trend, here are some snaps of some recent Italian snacks we have had.

This is some coffee, as good as Mark makes.


And the icecream at Macdonalds. Not as good as Macdonald’s in NZ.


And the pizza I hope Mark can learn to make . .


A final post from Venice

I’ll be gone for a few days now I think. We are off to near Florence tomorrow, and I’m joining Etienne, John Smith and some other buddies on Thursday in a little villa in Florence for a Muckabout, talking over some things of importance to us – managing our shared memories in communities. Not many others are interested in this, but hey, we all are different.

Many thanks to you folk back home for holding the fort.