Italy – the start of a journey


I’ve posted about my love of Italy, the style, the cars, and the culture in the past. Last year I had the opportunity to visit the country for three weeks, starting in Florence and travelling north from there.

Let’s be clear, travelling from the West Coast of Canada to Italy takes planning. Creating a four-city itinerary and avoiding car rental takes detailed planning! Yet the outcome was three memorable weeks of art, Alfa Romeo and, of course, food.

BC Brit and Maple MoleThe Plan

Culture, cars and connections. Florence, Turin, Venice and Milan were the principal stopping points. I can hear the howls, “What, no Rome?” That’s right. Italy was to be split into two visits. Florence and north for the first trip, Florence and south for another year. The first trip would also align with the Mille Miglia. I wanted to experience what was in the past a storied road race and now is a classic rally for 1920s to late 1950s cars. The ALFA Romeo museum, just outside Milan, was also on the must-visit list. Experiencing Mille Miglia and the ALFA museum would make this the best car culture trip possible.

This holiday would not be exclusively about cars, though. Meeting up with friends from the UK would also be slotted in during the Venice leg of the time away.

Challenge #1 – get to Florence. After much searching, a one-stop, two-flight answer was found. Vancouver to Zurich to Florence with a low-stress layover. 

Challenge #2 – get back to Vancouver from Milan. Again, after copious searches, Milan to Munich to Vancouver was nailed down with another relaxed layover.

Challenge #3 – finding accommodation and getting from one city to another. This was solved by AirBnB and booking trains. To avoid car rental, I would ensure the apartments were easily reached by public transport or walking.

I’d also read that it was beneficial to book the popular visits (Duomo, Uffizi and Academia galleries) to skip the lineups. All done, well in advance. The scene was set.

Long flight, several hours wait, short flight. Twenty-plus hours later, Florence. And heat, around 30 degrees Celcius. In fact, the temperature wouldn’t get below 30 during the three weeks away, which was both wonderful and, at times, stifling. For two weary travellers, it didn’t really matter. We’d arrived. The AirBnB was a short stroll across the river to all the main attractions and close to the Pitti Palace and Gardens. A perfect location that avoided ‘downtown’ hotels. A slight aside. Part of the planning was to book accommodation with washing machines. We’re no back-packers, but having access to laundry facilities meant we could travel lighter with one regular-sized case and one cabin baggage-sized case. It was a great decision.

To kick-start the body into a new timezone, the first visit would be just after 9 am the following morning. Not only was it an early start, there would be steps. Brunelleschi’s dome amounts of steps! It was glorious. Marvelling at this Renaissance architectural masterpiece and, when outside, consuming the views of Tuscany. A dream start. 

Florence has captured the market for being the centre of the European Renaissance cultural universe, and it’s easy to see why. I’ve never seen so many memorable paintings and sculptures. Having said that, I can safely say I left Florence, never wanting to see another Madonna and Child again!

Before heading north, there was a cheeky train ride down to Siena the day the Mille Miglia was in town. More on that in the next post.

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