We arrived in Floremce to the usual case of firt day itis which we have become quite used to on our travels. After convincing an elderly italian guy at the station that, yes, his wifes cooking must be great, and yes, if there are no rooms at the hostel we will go to his house we trudged off to the hostel which offered just about everything you could possibly need: beds, showers, free food, free coffee and free internet.
We arrived and were told that they had no room available and told us to try down the street.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, we forgot the number and as we went back to ask a girl called out from a shop asking if we needed a hostel.
We said yes, as though the sight of two huge packs on our backs was not a dead giveaway and she handed us a flyer to the 'Firenze Inn" (Firence is what Florence is actually called in Italy).
It had everything and then the killer combination of free breakfast and dinner AND free beer and wine had at least me salivating at the thought
After another twenty minutes of walking with what now feels like a dead corpse on my back, we arrived in a dodgy looking alleyway with a small push button panel
We were let in and greeted by the man who turned out to be the most psycho person I have ever met.
Allessandro is about 30 something years old, built like matty lower and just like him wanted every one to know it.
So after being shown our beds we were shown the rest of the hostel which turned out to be two small bathrooms and a tiny kitchen. The reception area measured about 5m x 3m and served as the smoking area, internet point, common room and music centre as well as the reception for about 35 people.
The first day we just dropped of our bags and did some hardcore sightseeing which I think we a becoming famous for. As many sights in as few hours as possible..it can be done, just ask Chris and Jess about Margaret River..
So off to the Acadaemia to see Michaelangelos david after first stopping to see the two replicas in the main piazza and a lovely castle which had rooms painted differently by multitudes of Renaissance and Baroque masters and was the second most beautiful place I had ever seen in my life. The room that got me was filled with colour fifteenth century cartographic maps of the world and the amount of effort that would have gone into this was amazing.
Then after a spot of commuity service on Kirsty's behalf (She shouted out a warning and ran across the road to stop pickpockets who were trying to rob and old japanese lady)we got to the line and finally got into see the famous statue.
Whilst not taking away from the beauty of this statue, everything else in the gallery did not stand up to the quality of that statue. Most distrubing was a photo about 5m high and three metres wide of an old man naked with a full erection over the door of the roman sculptures.
The first night was spent talking about australia to Alesandro who then did his famous sleeping koala impersonation that had us in tears for the whole stay. Just imagine an italian guy hanging off the back of a mexican guy with parsley sprigs in his mouth, claws in the chest and looking like he just had a big hit of valium.
Kirst decided to call it stumps and me, being the ever brave I am when I have had enough to drink, decided I would go out to the local pub.
This is where I met the Heinekin "Shuttle". 4 litres of beer in a container slightly resembling a perspex shuttle that you could buy as a fish bowl at a red dot store.
After having a race with a canadian guy, the world started to spin and the last clear memories are of being yelled at by some old italian for spewing near his motorbike and getting lost in Florence at 2am because I could not focus on the map.
The next day we took a day trip to the famous leaning tower of Pisa.
A three hour train journey from Florence and a half hour walk from the station let us see what surely is proof of italian proficiency when coming to build round things with height.
It stands 4.1 metres off the vertical and is something that you really need to see to believe.
The whole piazza it is part of is quite spectacular and we will try and get some photos on soon.
We had dinner at a restaurant where they charged us 15% service on top of the bill for paltry serves of lasagne and tortellini but the wine was ok.
Back off to Florence for yet another mad capped night with the crew.
Some Australian guys, Anthony and Dave Edwards had arrived and the scene was set for two of the best nights I have had in ages.
I introduced the italians to the term "Spiderman" and from then on it became the catchcry for everything we did. The night was mad, Dave and Anthony are two legends who would surely fit into the crew in WA.
(For those that don't know what spiderman means, ask a submariner. For Kirsty's parents- Don't ask!!!)
The next day we took a trip to the lovely town of Sienna.
After a 2hr bus ride we walked around the town, got lost, paid fifty cents for a map, ate lunch and decided we had seen enough 'old things' in Italy.
We got back to the hostel, got into it agaian and had a great night out.
We ended up at the shuttle bar again and I jumped on the floor and attempted to dance every dorky dance (lawnmower, sprinkler etc) I knew of. It was working because Kirsty looked down from the balcony every few minutes and shook her head at me.
The next day we awoke once again to the repetitive music they loved to play and the kitchen was decorated with pictures of koalas and kangaroos saying "Mick you win...I am tired, and "Mick....25 years ago......Bastard Inside" accompanied the photo of two kangaroos doing what nature intended with a little kid trying to feed them.
All over it was a bit sad but necessary for good health to leave that day for Rome.
It was a good send off when as we were walking down the alley with our backpacks the guys we had known for four days were hanging out the window shouting goodbye to us
Despite the nights we did get to see alot of Florence itself. It is a beautiful town and every corner you turn holds a new surprise.
So we headed off to Rome that afternoon for a meeting with the pope, more old stuff and a chance reunion with some friends..
Stay safe and keep in touch