My host in Lugano had let me know that she’d be leaving for work around 8am, so I decided to make sure I was up and ready by then so I could say goodbye. I set my alarm for 6:45 but in fact was up long before, tossing and turning in bed. No idea why–the night before had been very easy. Anyway, at some point I fell back to sleep and had some absolutely bizarre (though realistic) dreams that had absolutely nothing to do with the journey. Anyway, moving on.
I had a pleasant breakfast with my host, who had prepared some delicious mini pancakes, and, after taking leave of her, went off to pack my belongings. The host left the house and gave me the keys, so I was all by myself for the last hour or so. It felt nice to be so trusted and to be left alone in someone else’s house like that. I appreciated it. After making sure I’d left nothing behind (shampoo and soap in the bathroom!), I closed the door, and, as instructed, placed the keys into the shoe cabinet outside the door.
It was so frustrating having to carry three pieces of luggage in the blazing sunshine: my shoulder bag, the main holdall, and the third bag containing the cuckoo clock, laundry bag, and magazines. Seriously, I should probably get a rolling suitcase for next time. I always seem to end up lugging around heavy things whilst on these trips! That’ll teach me for going and buying things I don’t need!
From Lugano station, I took my next train to Milano Centrale, and then hopped on the Milan metro to go to Milano Rogoredo, from where I boarded my train to Florence.
It was simply wonderful to be back again in the city where I lived as a child. I dropped off my luggage and left the station of Santa Maria Novella (a beautiful name, I think), heading straight to the Piazza del Duomo. There was a lot of construction work going on, but it didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the amazing and intricate buildings. Brunelleschi’s masterpiece still dominates the place, and the Florentine skyline, as it has for hundreds of years.
After spending a little while wandering through the maze of little streets in Florence’s city centre, I headed directly for the street on which I’d lived. It wasn’t difficult to find, all I had to do was follow one of the streets leading out of the Piazza del Duomo until I arrived at the right place. As I walked, it was interesting to notice the further away from the Piazza I went, the number of tourists began to dwindle and be replaced by locals.
I arrived at the street and found the right apartment block. Sure enough, it was still there, barely changed. The fancy clothes shop in front of it seemed to be about to close down, or perhaps it wasn’t the same one that had been there before. I went to see if the supermarket was still around the corner, and, sure it enough, there it was. I couldn’t resist popping in, and I decided to buy some provisions for the overnight train to Catania. Entering the supermarket, I was amazed to realise that the layout had barely changed. The fruit and vegetable section, with the colourful boxes of cornflakes (always too expensive, I remember!) sitting on the shelves on top. How could it still be the same after fifteen or so years? In the UK, supermarkets seem to change their layouts every couple of years or so. Or perhaps it was a case of the more things change, the more they stay the same, and I’d missed all the changes that had happened in between. Still, it was a fun little shopping trip, though I realised that once again I was loading myself with a heavy bag of shopping that I would now have to drag back to the centre and to the train station. I do like to punish myself, clearly. 🙂
I sat down under some trees in the nearby piazza and had a bite to eat, feeding the pigeons that soon flocked around me. A man approached me and said he needed some information–I get this a lot in Italy. He asked if I was from the area, as there was some place he wanted to get to. I was slightly tempted to say yes, but I thought I’d better not look foolish (fare una brutta figura!) if I didn’t actually know where he wanted to get to.
Returning to the centre, I headed to Piazza della Signoria and finally the Ponte Vecchio, where I bought the cheap little souvenir I always pick up whenever I go to a new city. I ended up back on Piazza del Duomo and was looked around for a public toilet. Fat chance. There were two signs saying “WC” that seemed to just be pointing at each other. It’s so annoying when that happens. Anyway, I finally got back to the station, and boarded the train to Naples, on which I’m writing this post. When I get there, I’ll change onto the overnight train to take me all the way to Catania.