Interrail day nine – Florence to Bari

7 May

Can you believe I’ve been doing this for nine days now? And I’m not even halfway πŸ˜‚

I would have just picked up some croissants for breakfast, but the hotel I was staying in had an arrangement with a local cafe where you get a discount on breakfast, so I went with that. It turned out to be only 10%, which was pathetic, and the breakfast wasn’t much better, with bacon so overdone it shattered, insufficient toast, and orange juice that tasted weird. However, I ate it all up because you can’t always get food when you want it while you’re travelling. My mother would tell you that I was a very fussy child, but I’m much less discriminating at the moment!

I headed off to the station past the enormous Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (whose bells had wakened me this morning) and snapped yet another priceless artwork as I passed the Baptistry of St John. But what I was most pleased to see was a shop at the station called La Feltrinelli, which had beautiful Paperblanks notebooks (I resisted), a newspaper in English (I did not resist) and vegan cake, a great rarity down here. It wasn’t fantastic, but see my comments above about breakfast.

The train was late, obviously, but soon enough we were hurtling through the Tuscan hills in the direction of Rome. I was supposed to have a 15-minute change in Rome, but my experiences with Italian railways led me to change that so I would have over an hour.

There is a big food court in Rome Termini, with plenty of choice, but I wanted to get out forΒ a bit so I found a wee place at the end of the block that did sandwiches, and sat outside. Rome was warm and humid, noisy and dirty, busy and beautiful – but to get a photo of anything worthwhile I would have had to stand in the middle of the road – unwise in Roman traffic. Whereas in the Netherlands, if you so much as glance at a zebra crossing, traffic stops, in Italy they are seen as more of a suggestion.

The journey from Rome to Bari was long and not particularly interesting. Bari station itself was a bit confusing in that it had two identical sides and I went out the opposite side to the one where my brother- and sister-in-law were waiting. However through the magic of WhatsApp we worked it out and I was reunited with Ida and Genti for the first time since before the pandemic.

Ida had to take her mum to an appointment so Genti and I went for coffee, although we spent far more time trying to find a parking space than drinking coffee. Italy is very wedded to the car, whatever Ferrara thinks.

It was my niece Alessia’s birthday (I had brought her a small, light, unbreakable present in my bag πŸ˜‚) so we all went out to the pizzeria where Ida works for what was possibly the loudest children’s party ever. The TV was showing Serie A football matches and the boys were yelling along in support in a very echoey conservatory. My other sister-in-law Diana was also there, and Ida’s parents.

Lemia (Ida’s mum), Diana, Genti

The party went on a long time, hence posting this the following day. Whether the next one is delayed will depend on whether there is WiFi on the ferry. Anyway, I’ll leave you with cute photos of the birthday girl and her brother.

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