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  • Day29

    Florence

    May 12, 2016 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Our accommodation was halfway between Florence and Bologna. We had a hard time deciding which city to spend the afternoon in as we leave for Croatia tomorrow. It turned out that Viv and Kez were enroute to Florence the very same day! This was actually unplanned. Despite having said our goodbyes in Positano a few days earlier, we decided to have dinner with them one last time in Italy.

    Everyone was pretty spent from driving/taking the train/sleeping in the car. We decided that this evening would be spent at an idyllic pace, doing things that everyone REALLY wanted to do, like shopping for a leather jacket! Haha. Aaron’s so thrilled!

    It turns out, Viv is quite well-versed in the art of differentiating good leather from bad leather. It’s all in the stitching, she says. The salesmen could sniff out an unsuspecting victim. One salesman demonstrated that a particular leather jacket that Flora was trying on was of supreme quality as it did not burn when he tried to set it alight with his lighter. Oldest trick in the book, Viv says. She saved Flora from the jaws of a wily old fox.

    We didn’t just look at leather jackets. We saw the Duomo (or Il Duomo di Firenze as the locals call it) in the heart of Florence’s Old Town. Once again, we were gobsmacked by what’s in front of us. The exterior had recently undergone a careful clean (water-blasted) to reveal its original splendour. You can tell a marked difference between the sections that had been cleaned and ones that hadn’t.

    We walked around Old Town until it was dinner time at a local favourite. We’ve heard a lot about the Florentine steaks. It did not disappoint. 1kg of T-bone steak was devoured in a matter of minutes by the two of us. Viv and Kez were less carnivorous than us. It was the perfect way to end our time together in Italy. For real this time! Viv and Kez will carry on with their adventures in Cinque Terre and Venice before concluding their Italy trip.
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  • Day27

    Giro d'Italia!

    May 10, 2016 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    So we've arrived in Benevento, the venue of Stage 5 of Giro d'Italia. The race is supposed to start at 1pm and we're early. Curious - they haven't started setting up for the race yet. No road barriers anywhere to be seen. No cars parked along the side of the road waiting to cheer their teams on.

    Suddenly, Aaron yells, "SHIT!" After confirming that today is the 10th, we realise that we're a day early. Not a big deal, you think. We can just hang around here for an extra day, except we've already booked our next accommodation for that night some 3 hours' drive from here.

    We have to be on the move as we've spent more time than we had originally allowed for in France and Italy (rightly so, I might add). Sadly, we have missed our only opportunity to watch Giro d'Italia :(

    Oh well, can't dwell on these things for too long! Hello Florence!!
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  • Day26

    Scala, Ravello

    May 9, 2016 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    On the way home, we stopped by at a town called Ravello, across the ridge from Scala, which is where we stayed. We have seen Ravello from Scala and it looked like it was worth a visit.

    This town boasts a number of 5-star hotels. Not surprising considering the commanding view each hotel gets from their location. Restaurants here seem to tip-toe precariously on cliffs for a view that’s second to none. How did they build in such precarious locations? This seems pretty consistent with the way they drive - they laugh at death in the face.

    Ravello also has a network of little alleyways with shops – always a favourite with Flora. It’s a pity we discovered this town so late in our Amalfi trip. The shops were starting to close, we take a few more happy snaps before we head back to our accommodation. Tomorrow will be an early start as we're heading up to watch Stage 5 of Giro d'Italia (Italy's version of Tour de France).
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  • Day26

    Driving along Amalfi Coast

    May 9, 2016 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    We thought it's appropriate to have a post dedicated to the perils of driving along the Amalfi Coast. As mentioned in previous posts, the roads are so narrow but these Italian drivers are either all extremely gifted drivers or just have no fear of death.

    We (more specifically Aaron as Flora was more often than not asleep) could only capture a handful of close shaves on camera. Due to the narrow roads, tour buses go wide when taking a bend or a turn. The bus drivers of course can't see if there are any oncoming vehicles, but why worry! It'll work out in the end.... *insert lots of cursing and swearing here*
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  • Day26

    Praiano

    May 9, 2016 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    We enjoyed a lovely sleep-in today. Flora got up early enough to enjoy a run to Scala with Aaron. The jog down was nice; the jog up was something else altogether. How in the world do those professional cyclists climb mountains over such long distances? We’ve seen kids riding ponies up and down this part of town; maybe Flora could hitch a ride.

    The afternoon sees us driving along the Amalfi Coast to Praiano. It’s a tiny little village by the sea wedged between Positano and Amalfi. Have we left Earth and landed in Heaven?? This little bay that we came to was devoid of tourists (except maybe us) and flanked by steep cliffs on either side. The eye cannot comprehend such beauty. We have lunch at a café next to the pebbled beach before dipping into the clear blue waters.

    The water is so refreshing (limb-numbingly freezing cold)! After about 3 minutes of the body acclimatising to an ice bath, our swim was one of the most pleasant experiences we’ve had on this trip. The view of the bay as we treaded water is (I’m at a loss of words here) just breathtaking. In true Aussie style, we dried off (sun-baked) atop the pebbles and spent a good couple of hours lazing around without getting sunburnt. Praiano, you are truly a magical little gem in the Amalfi Coast.
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  • Day25

    Amalfi, Positano

    May 8, 2016 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Vivian and Kez took a train and two ferries from Naples to meet us in the town of Amalfi. It took them 3 hours in all. Thank goodness we had a car, even though driving in this area is tantamount to playing roulette with your life. Roads are narrow and windier than a coiled snake. Aaron thinks himself a rally driver which sometimes makes Flora feel queasy. It is always an animated drive in Italy with Aaron yelling or cursing as we narrowly miss a collision with a crazy Italian driver. Did we tell you about Italian bus drivers? Do not drive in this neck of the woods unless you’re a stunt driver.

    We got to Amalfi and straight into a traffic jam. Not surprising when Italian drivers stop in the middle of the road to have a chat, drop off or pick up someone, or for no reason other than they feel like stopping. Also, tow-away zones are the perfect place to park, especially when they reduce an already narrow road to one barely wide enough for a single-lane traffic. We patiently waited in the traffic as we drove along to a 20 Euro a day parking spot we used the day before. The parking attendant had nothing for us. What a nightmare. We decide to pick Viv and Kez up from the town centre and head towards Positano.

    It was to be one of our better decisions. We parked at the top of hill and walked through meandering alleyways with their quaint little shops, down towards the water. It was goodbye for the 4 musketeers. Viv and Kez are heading off to Florence tomorrow while we stay another two nights so we can watch the Giro d’Italia in a couple of days.

    We sit by the water’s edge enjoying the setting sun. A few obligatory group selfies with Positano in the backdrop and we waved Viv and Kez goodbye as they board their ferry.
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  • Day24

    Capri Part III

    May 7, 2016 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    More photos of Capri from the very top.

  • Day24

    Capri Part II

    May 7, 2016 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    More photos of Capri from a private boat.

  • Day24

    Capri Part I

    May 7, 2016 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    As we got on the ferry at Amalfi to an island called Capri, it felt like we were going to Rottnest, just off Perth, only our backdrop was the breathtaking Amalfi coastline. Definitely does not look like Fremantle B-shed! To say we were flabbergasted would be quite an understatement. This part of the Italy is unbeatable – the most beautiful part of our Italy trip so far, and that’s a huge call.

    The ferry transits in Positano before crossing the Mediteranean Sea to Capri. Positano looks amazing from the sea. Tomorrow we find out that it is even more incredible up close.

    Our main goal upon arriving on the glorious shores of Capri was to find a ferry to take us to see the Blue Grotto – a cave with waters that glow fluorescent blue due to the light coming in from the entrance to the cave. We somehow chanced upon an English couple who had been pounced on by a local offering a private tour of Capri on his boat. Flora’s ears perked up as she senses a bargain. She approaches the couple with an offer to share the private boat tour with us, Viv and Kez. 25 Euros per person for 6 people on a private boat versus the commercial sardines ferry with 40 people onboard for 18 Euros. It’s a no-brainer. Although, what kind of boat does he actually have?? A sense of dread washed over us. He brought it around and we rejoiced with our great win. The boat is beautiful!

    For two hours, he took us to little caves around the island and also gave us an insight to Capri. This island is a holiday mecca for the rich and famous. Mussolini had a castle perched on top of a tall cliff. Sophia Loren has a private house isolated from everyone else, on top of yet another cliff. The skipper rattled off some more names that we ooh-ed and aah-ed at but instantly forgot. He took us to a private bay with only one other small boat where Aaron promptly dived into the crystal waters. No one else was game enough to freeze to death. Aaron thinks it’s the clearest water he has ever seen.

    We had lunch by the marina. We’ve been eating out almost every lunch and dinner since arriving in Italy and it’s not working wonders for our budget. Then again, you don’t go to Italy to miss the amazing food. After lunch, we defied death and took a bus to the famed chair-lifts at Anacapri. All bus drivers in Italy must be rally drivers in their past lives. We were a mere 100mm from dropping off the face of a cliff that this narrow road perched on. Aaron lost the plot. Flora thought she’d have to knock him on the head to calm his nerves.

    We eventually arrived unscathed to the chair-lift station. Single chair-lifts take us on a 15-minute journey to the top of Capri for an incredible 360 degrees panoramic view. Aaron’s vertigo proves to be a problem yet again but he really hasn’t got anywhere else to go (haha!). Flora thoroughly enjoyed the chair-lift ride. This is what it must feel like to fly (very slowly). Life is beautiful. This is a view we won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
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  • Day23

    Herculaneum, Mount Vesuvius Part II

    May 6, 2016 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    More photos of Herculaneum and Mount Vesuvius

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