Monday, 19 August 2013

Lucca, Pisa, Florence, and the Fat Foot

It all started with a rather innocuous blister on my left heel. The day we had planned to visit Lucca, I woke up with a searing pain in my heel every time I moved my foot. Not a good sign. Foolishly thinking that sometimes a blister is just a blister, I decided to ignore the pain and limp my way through Lucca. 

We saw the beautiful and striking cathedral. After that, we realised that we had parked someplace we weren't supposed to and went to move the car. Italy is full of these signs that mean that you aren't supposed to go into certain places unless you have some kind of permit. 
Walking back into the historic centre, we got lunch consisting entirely of focaccia bread (a local specialty). Then Yannick insisted we leave, as the pain in my foot was growing. 
Settled down in a campsite for the evening, we happily read for a while and then Yannick went off to see Pisa. We had limited time and I wasn't up for walking that much, but I wanted him to see it at least.  
Describing it to me after, he said it was very easy to navigate as the town was surrounded in a square wall and there was a river going straight through by which to orient yourself by. He bypassed the leaning tower as it was surrounded by tourists doing funny poses next to it. Instead he found some delicious apricots and ate nearly all of them before realising he wanted to save some for me. So he bought more, as well as a dark chocolate and white chocolate gelato that I was told was rich in flavour.  When he returned to the tower he took some pictures.

And then he drew for a while and next he noticed, the sun had moved quite a lot so he took more photos. 

Upon his arrival back at camp, I told him in a whisper all about one of our neighbours. They were a middle aged couple in a campervan. I couldn't quite decipher their accents but knew they were from somewhere far north, possibly Finland or Sweden. The woman seemed alright, but the man burped and farted constantly and unashamedly. He also stretched and yawned very loudly, but that wasn't as bad as the farting. What was worrying was a suckling sound he made. I wasn't sure if he was eating something or just sucking on his fingers but it wasn't a pleasant sound. Still, better than the farting. 

The following day, my foot was much better and I could walk in a fully normal way. It seemed that it had been healed overnight! Our day trip to Florence could carry on as planned. 
We parked at a supermarket carpark and then took the tram in, arriving next to a large train station. Spotting a tourist office, we waited in line for ever until we were given a complimentary map of Firenze, which I think sounds better than florence and I don't understand why we don't call it this in English. 
We sighted the cathedral, which wasn't open as it was before half past one on a Sunday. We did find an excellent gelateria, situated nearly within leaping distance of the cathedral. Grom. The best gelato I have ever had. We both got four scoops each - pistachio, nougat, creme de Grom, and extra dark chocolate; and lemon, raspberry, mango and peach. 

Here's a close up:

After nomming that down, we wandered around Museo del Bargello, which had many sculptures, some of which were early Michelangelos. We gazed upon a lot of marble that day. One of our favourites was an early commission for Michelangelo to sculp Baccus, god of drunken revelry. It turned out that the person who commissioned it thought it was a bit too drunken, because Baccus' expression is hilariously wonky. "Completely sloshed" as Yannick puts it.
Needing lunch, we tried to find a recommended pizzeria. The sign on the front said it had moved to a new location, so we followed it and found that it no longer served pizza. While my past experiences of eating gnocchi (in New Zealand, mind you) were not the best, I decided to give it a go. It was excellent and i gobbled it down. Though it took me a long while, because we had some wonderful lunchtime conversation with a couple at the table next to us. They were American, and were spending the week in Italy. It seemed like we talked for hours, and on so many topics. We suggested (maybe a little strongly) that they try Grom. Everybody should try Grom. 
Finally finished eating, we went back to the Cathedral. 

That was when I happened to notice that my left ankle had swollen up a little and had turned red. Well, this was a turn for the worse. I ended up pointing to my ankle and prodding it inside a pharmacy, mentioning it might be infected. The pharmacist said he thought so too, whereupon we were given an antiseptic cream that I'm not exactly sure what it did because it was all in Italian. Nevertheless, I smeared it on liberally, hoping that was the correct way to apply it. 
The tram ride back was cramped and an Italian man wiggled his eyebrows at me, only making me clutch my bag tighter, eyeing the sticker that diagrammed a pickpocketing. 

My foot had not improved the next morning, so we tried to see a doctor. When the lady at reception took a look at my foot, she tisked and directed us to a hospital as apparently all the doctors were busy.
We parked on the curb near the emergency room and were seen by a nice man at the hospital. He said it did indeed look infected. We queried about moving our car, but he just said that it is Italy, and the police do not come here. So we waited to see the doctor, who gave me a prescription for antibiotics and told me to keep the area clean. 
By the time we had finished all of that, it was barely after lunch so we decided to go back to Firenze. 
I loitered at a cafe at the plaza the cathedral was on for hours while Yannick went around getting nice pictures. 
He scaled a very tall tower right next to the cathedral and got some amazing photos of Firenze from above. 

It took you higher than the dome, and had a much shorter queue. Even as we left Firenze around six o'clock, the line to get into the cathedral was staggering and I can only imagine how hot those poor people must have been in the sun. 

This bridge looked very different when you were walking along it, with dozens of merchants selling their wares. I saw a very tall man holding an armful of knockoff designer handbags, which I found rather funny.

We stayed in Livorno, intending to take a ferry across to Corsica the next day. 
Photographic evidence of the fat foot - normal sized foot on the right. But no need to worry, I'm alright now and my feet are the same size again.