Aktualisiert: 26. Okt 2020
it is possible that I will repeat myself, but I don't care, because it still touches me very much how much fun you have with the blog and the photos. Thank you for your so kind words, which always support me in these days. It's nice that new destinations are added to your bucket lists or that you "feel Italy" at home. Let's see how you like today's blog, maybe it's one of the last. But more about that later.
"In love with Lucca" -- so much! And no, no déjà-vu like during my year abroad in England, where I met my boyfriend on the first day and extended my originally planned three-month trip to one year. Lucca is not a nice Italian, but a beautiful little town and this is not the first time I have visited it. Right now I'm sitting in my apartment right next to the historical city wall and I'm thinking about what happened the last days.
Let's start with the learnings of the week again::
1. If you think English from Japanese can be entertaining, you haven't heard the pronunciation of my German navigation voice (Lara, didn't you call her Bertha?) Italian street names!
2. Speaking of navigation: Can Bertha be sued? Our relationship has been disturbed since she wants to guide me permanently in one-way streets - the opposite direction of course!
3. I try to pronounce "Ciao" more in Bertha style, apparently I sound too Italian and am regularly attacked in Italian with a variety of words after the greeting in stores - until I come out as a tourist with five words.
4. My future customer weddings in the rain I will only shoot in Bologna! Plus travel expenses!
5. I have become as versatile as the street vendors who, when the weather changes, swap their assortment of sun hats for umbrellas within seconds.
6. A day without Italian ice cream is a lost day: my very own very healthy sabbatical challenge!
After my visit in Milan I went to Bologna. Oh Bologna, you have really not made it easy for me! I had been looking forward to seeing you - I had heard so many good things, but we had our difficulties. After a few hundred kilometers on the highway I headed for the toll station - so now I should get to know you dear Bologna. 15.60 € said the machine demanding. And so once again I took the chance of an extended stretching and twisting to insert the cash, because either my arms are too short or my car is richer with beautiful Italian memory dents. Nope, he did not want cash. Whatever the reason, well, then just the card. Nope, he didn't want either. As my pulse increased, so did the number of cars that were lined up behind me. The 10th announcement "sorry it didn`t work" was meanwhile accompanied by a sonorous honking concert. But the vending machine had mercy at some point and put a man from the service department through, who let me go with a transfer receipt. Thanks Bologna, what a resounding welcome.
After my visit in Milan I went to Bologna. Oh Bologna, you have really not made it easy for me! I had been looking forward to seeing you - I had heard so many good things, but we had our difficulties. After a few hundred kilometers on the highway I headed for the toll station, just from the finish - so now I should get to know you dear Bologna. 15.60 € said the machine demanding. And so once again I took the chance of an extended stretching and twisting to insert the cash, because either my arms are too short or my car is richer with beautiful Italian memory dents. Nope, he did not want cash. Whatever the reason, well, then just the card. Nope, he didn't want either. As my pulse increased, so did the number of cars that were lined up behind me. The 10th announcement "sorry it didn`t work" was meanwhile accompanied by a sonorous honking concert. But the vending machine had mercy at some point and put a man from the service department through, who let me go with a transfer receipt. Thanks Bologna, what a resounding welcome.
I had booked an Airbnb and was convinced that I had once again made a good choice with my usual filter settings. I had told the host that I would arrive around 2 pm and that I would make a final report 15 minutes before arrival. Thereupon I received the following message: "I'll be there at 5 pm, see you later". Yes, I know southerners don't take punctuality too seriously, but three hours? "There is no key, you are dependent on me," he answered my question whether I could get into the apartment before. Okay? And when I read the ratings for my host, I quickly realized that my filter settings were rated "very good" and "super host" were definitely not activated here. "As a woman I cannot recommend the accommodation, unpleasantly pushy host, worst Airbnb experience ever etc.". - the comments spoke a clear language "Cancellation and accept 50 Euro loss" - never before had I loved to lose 50 Euro so fast.
So I booked myself a hotel room, somehow I had just lost my mood for Airbnb. The hotel was very well rated, I have now read carefully! All right, booked and off to the hotel! Yes dad, you are right, I could have just gone directly to the hotel and booked there. I should have known better, we basically did all family vacations without any bookings in advance and it almost always worked out fine (except for the 24-hour trip through Croatia - without hotel but with two moaning kids who are always happy to tell this story again and again ;-))
So I arrived at the hotel and was again loudly welcomed. This time no horns, jackhammers - in the hotel room to the right and left of me. In addition, the area where the hotel was located was not very nice. But no matter, I only sleep there and I'm mainly in the city (I had to laugh a bit at the guess that I thought I could sleep there). So off to the city. Bologna - now it could only get better. As soon as I arrived in the city, it got "even better", three men were fighting and I was almost in between - just in case somebody doubts my reactions, he should be told better ;-) I quickly left the raudis and bleeding noses behind me.
And that a gentleman came very close to me and pulled at my handbag, let us now please just blame it on loss of balance and short irritation. Bologna really can't take any more negative experiences on this day. Oh no, I forgot - the night in which every 15 minutes the sirens of a car went off and I constantly thought of your words about the car break-ins and hoped for Bertha's support - if she would react half as energetically to an attempted break-in of my car as she did to me, if I didn't follow the route, she would surely put everyone on the run!
But now good, a new day (with the car still intact, thanks Bertha) and a new chance for Bologna. And today it should be really more positive, because already the breakfast announced itself with a highlight. The daughter of my colleague Susanne is currently studying in Bologna and I was happy to meet her and to finally be able to communicate with a person again :-) Franziska has been here for a few months now, studying medicine and of course she had imagined her semester abroad to be different (thanks Corona). But just like me, she is grateful for the chance to be abroad. Before she started in Bologna, she worked in Heidelberg for the Coronataxi and accompanied her colleagues to corona patients at home. What she reported here was really interesting - and really courageous at the age of 20! I also spoke to her about my trip and the medical situation in Italy. And I am grateful that she also shares the opinion that Italy is currently no less badly positioned than Germany and that, in the event of a lockdown, the way home is always possible. She also showed me her city and I learned, among other things, that Bologna has 40 km of arcades - a dream of every wedding photographer who is always looking for arcades in bad weather.
Dear Franziska, I thank you for the nice morning, you showed me the city from a really beautiful side! Stay as you are and hold on to your dreams, as I was able to get to know you, you will have a great way ahead of you and I also say thank you for your commitment in medicine! Thanks also Susanne for bringing us both together.
While the day before it made it onto the "Okay have learned some things but don't need it again" list, today crystallized into the "Please more of this" day. And that showed me how quickly things can change if we get involved and still remain optimistic. Montecatini-Terme was the next stop. I had no idea what to expect here, except a great hotel room that I now allowed myself for a night out of my travel budget.
I arrived in the cute little town and was thrilled - not only by the hotel, but also by the old town and the view of the mountains, behind which the sun was shining all the time. Let's get out and explore my surroundings. And so I walked through the park, past beautiful boutiques, looked at the thermal bath, tasted apparently healing spring water (maybe it helps my toe, which meanwhile has more colors than the rainbow) and finally decided to make a short hike to the neighboring village on the mountain. Through olive plantations and along a small river I arrived after good 40 minutes. WOW. What a view and what a cute mountain village - absolutely recommendable (Montecatini Alto). Following the tradition of my hiking trio with Ilja and Lorena I had an ice cream afterwards. My challenge: the ice cream sellers decide for me which ice cream I choose and it must not be the same kind as the days before. And so I ate the world's best nut and blueberry ice cream with a view of the sunset in Tuscany. Thank you Bologna, without your sleepless night I probably would never have booked the hotel here and experienced this moment. The next day, when it rained, I used the spa area without regret (almost alone - by the way, most of the hotels were already closed here) and then set off for Lucca.
"Why Lucca", Christine asked me, who offered a guided tour in Florence. "It was a feeling I remembered, I thought I might like it there," I said. And that's how it is - 15 years ago I was on vacation in Tuscany with my family and I still had some memories of Lucca and above all the feeling that this city captivated me. 15 years - how long ago that was, Maurice, look what I found the days here by chance in my archive, I think we have hardly changed at all ;-) <3
In Lucca I immediately felt in love with the city again. From my apartment I was in the center in a few minutes, all these winding alleys, these beautiful stores - each one with so much love and so much history. I ended up in pharmacies without wanting to buy anything, because I had never entered such historic stores live. And fortunately I travel with "light luggage" - all these beautiful homemade shoes and bags - I could buy everything here! But what I love most of all are the numerous handicraft stores that can be found in the middle of the city center and that you can watch a little bit while they are at work. No matter if a sewing shop, weaving mill, shoemaker or carpenter - this is what makes this city really lively. I feel a little sad when I see this and think of our problem of inner city vacancies.
In Lucca I used the time to finally cook for myself, do the laundry and do some work (the requests of my photo clients for next year should not remain unanswered). And it felt so good to feel something of normal everyday life. Who would have thought that washing laundry can bring such a feeling of happiness - let's see how long I can keep it at home :-)
On saturdays I went to Florence. I decided to take the train here for about an hour, because parking in Florence is very difficult. I was surprised how empty the train was and at the same time grateful, because if there is one thing I currently avoid, it is crowds of people. In Florence I met Christine, who offered a guided tour of Florence for Germans. I can warmly recommend Christine (GuruWalk - free walking tour), I learned so much about the city in two hours and she knows how to present the most exciting facts of the city in an entertaining but also informative short and compact way. And I would like to tell you a little bit about it.
Florence was also pretty empty - compared to last year tourism slumped by 80%. 80%! Where does the name Florence come from? Florence means "the magnificent", "the blooming" (from Latin "flos/flavus = flower/flower/blooming), but also "the powerful", "the shining" (from Latin "florere" = to bloom/be powerful/shining). And powerful and flourishing is and has always been Florence. As I have learned, actually every origin of all inventions or famous personalities can be traced back to Florence - even if not everything is true, they know how to promote themselves wonderfully. Did you know that:
- The Medici family acquired their wealth through textile trading in Florence and was one of the most influential families in Italy. (A whole blog could be filled with information about this family alone, very exciting and recommendable to read about its history)
- Giotto was named after the bell tower in Florence - and the delicious Giotto sweet does not even exist in Italy?
- Streetart as its best - artist Clet uses the street signs for his works of art so successfully that tourists come to see just his art! (See my photos - I love it)
- Florence used to be the Manhattan of Italy and had 150 defense towers? (See photo cityscape in former times)
- Amerigo Vespucci from Florence discovered America at the same time as Columbus and the continent of America was named after him?
- The Ponte Vecchio bridge was the only bridge in Florence that was not destroyed in the Second World War, because Hitler prevented it, because he thought it was beautiful?
- Originally, butchers who could dispose of their waste directly in the river were located on the bridge?
- The Medici family then took over a house near the bridge and had a connection built across the bridge, the stench of the waste disturbed and they made sure that goldsmiths moved into the stores.
- The following famous personalities lived in Florence, among others: Sandro Botticelli, Dante Alighieri, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo and many more
In addition to all the information, there were useful tips on the best ice cream and the best pizza in town - of course I tried both and can say: Christina is right. As for the type of ice cream, the choice was in this case a typical Tuscan specialty: Buontalenti. Very creamy and tastes a bit like vanilla. By the way, homemade ice cream can be recognized by the lids on the ice cream varieties. The piled up ice cream is usually not from own production.
After an exciting day in Florence I took it easy in Lucca today. I strolled through the streets and stores and talked to some salesmen. Did you know that a shoemaker is trained for 10 years? No wonder, when you look at these masterpieces. Before the thunderstorm started I made myself comfortable in a cafe and watched the hustle and bustle at the cathedral. It was wonderful to see the children racing around the square with their rented four-wheeler for the 20th time and collecting meter after meter on the speedometer, as if they could borrow the bike even longer with more m. The street musician knows only three songs, but that doesn't bother anyone, because most people go on anyway and don't linger. It doesn't bother me either - I like "Hotel California" and accept everything except Christmas songs (because the Christmas decoration has already been hung up in the city). And while the thunder crashes through the streets, the downpour starts and the lightning illuminates the dark alleys, I'm just happy to be here. To sit here, to read my book, to watch the goings-on and to be.
I wish it could go on like this. I wish the next weeks could look like this. But unfortunately the situation in Italy is also coming to a head. Mama, Papa, I know you wish me home some days. But I will enjoy a few more days and stay as long as I feel safe. I feel it will not be too long. Maybe a few more days, maybe a week or two. We will see. "Is the journey going as expected? Or better?" Claudia asked me just yesterday. "No, not as expected - not at all. Completely different, and still good!" I wrote. I miss the exchange with people, but I enjoy having a lot of time for myself to reflect things. Increasingly, the trip, which of course has many limitations anyway (which I knew I was going to have to accept, though), is overshadowed by factors such as the rising number of infected people, threatening border closures and lockdowns or accommodation bans. When the "light feeling" of traveling is lost, it is also time for me to stop. But still I'm enjoying every second, weighing the risks of course and don't know how many posts I'm still allowed to write for you.
Please keep your fingers crossed for me.
Apart from that, I let the pictures speak again and have now reached a reading time of over nine minutes! If you've come this far, thank you for reading along and let me know what you like and contact me if you have any questions! I am looking forward to reading from you!
Next stop will be Pisa and the sea - can`t wait!
Grazie e Ciao