Tuscany 2017: Street Art, real Art & Train Travel

I am back to the daily life, work and 460 mails to trudge through after 2 weeks away. Business as usual. It takes longer to get down to writing but I plan to be done with the Tuscany series before end of June.



Know yourself & what kind of traveler you are! It will help you pack & prepare to reduce stress.

For me, a neurotic home leaver, the best & worst part of traveling is packing before the trip. I love having all of my crap & shit around me. In case I need it. Mostly though, it is the shoes packing that gets me going off the hook. I want to pack, among other nice useless things; two pairs of pumps – red & black. In case I have to attend that very nice dinner that always happens when I am away and I always end up feeling under-dressed. Because of the shoes.

I also want to pack: all my other nice shoes except the training shoes. Nail polish. 3 colors of lipstick including a nude. All my jeans. All my nice tops. All my pretty dresses. All my nice pretty shorts. 3 kinds of sunscreen – 15 for cooler days, 30 for sunny nice days and 50 for hot scorching days. Just in case. All my hair brushes & combs; plus, my partner in travel laughs that I always want to pack my 2 hair dryers & 4 different sizes of flat irons. Who knows what to expect when away from home? right?

This time, I got away with loafers. I think I will keep to the loafers from now on. Easier to pack and easy to wear even on light walk days.

The thing with touring for us is we walk a lot. A lot! You know; because, & don’t go judging now, we can’t always find the places we are looking for at first try, OR, we can’t be bothered to have a plan so we just kinda:


Roam without roaming services.




Take a cold bear or something in the middle of the day.

That kinda gets you tired so we:


Roam a bit more and oh! hallelujah!

we always, many times, find something we always wanted to see.

Just like that.


Art, Architecture & Obsessions

We are both street art interested. Graffiti.

We are always photographing that shit and cooing over how talented graffiti artists are. Even when traveling, we still can miss the Dome and see all this street art everywhere we walk & we walk A. LOT.

The featured image is a painting by Barbara Marchiori that we found in a gallery in Pistoia. That was a perfect, easy day trip while we were in Florence. 30 minutes on the train on a hot day, to the most wonderful lunch we had in Tuscany.

We wanted very much to see the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral & the  Il Duomo built by a “a buffoon and a babbler” as described by the guys who later hired him, Filippo Brunelleschi. We had watched a documentary about Brunelleschi before we left Stockholm and were looking forward to the Dome. We did not see it from the inside. At all. We saw it several times, from all angles, from the outside. And then we saw the drawings & designs of the dome at the Il Duomo Museum.

Brunelleschis Il DuomoBefore the trip, we were just interested, like “oh, how interesting is that!?”

Now, we are freaking enthusiasts. Dome lovers. We must go back to Florence to see this F#¤%&¤#G dome. It is beautiful & fascinating.


Traveling in History to History

I think my grandfather’s stories have influenced my brain during travel. “Where you find water, you find people with plenty” he said. “Where there is water, there is enough for all so there is less animosity from the locals. And, they are used to travelers just ricketing in on rickety boats”. He reasoned. All ancient settlements that have formed our present lives were built near water. Wars fought, empires built, love found & made. The beginnings & ends of fantastic adventures on rickety boats.

My grandfather was an epic wanderer. Disappearing for months on end in a time without mobile phones and Facebook. Wandering through Africa. Taking the rickety boats to India or whatever place the boat would ricket to. Some times, we thought he could have died on one of his adventures. But then, he would wander right back to our home with all sorts of friends and stories.

Boy, did he tell stories about these escapades?!

So the first walk for me always is “let’s find the river/lake/sea!”

In Rome, we stayed to the east of the Tiber. To the west of the river, you find the Vatican. Just a walk by the Fiume Tevere is a walk very close to most of the places you want to see first. Looking at the Tiber is looking at the history of Rome.

We arrived to Florence on a hot afternoon,  so we found the Arno and walked by it in search of a good gelato. Plus, we really wanted to see the Ponte Vecchio where trade, all sorts of trade, has been ongoing since the middle ages. Some things should never change.

Find the bridges on the  map is my tip. Fiume=River. Ponte=Bridge.

Then you know when to cross & re-cross to wherever. If you have goals. If not, think a zigzag movement with the river as the middle point. Otherwise just go with the flow.


Tips & Survival Tactics

We took the train to Firenze SMN Stazione (Santa Maria Novella) from ROMA Termini. That is so easy, you need no tips or heads up. Just go to the train stations with your credit card or some Euros and buy the ticket. Trains left on time & the trips were easy & pleasant with beautiful views of the Tuscany country side.

Tip: It is hard to see a country if you fly everywhere. Driving takes your focus from the fun outside. Take the train or the bus. Sit back & enjoy that someone else is taking you there. Close your book & look out the window.

Mindfulness. Mindfulness. Mindfulness. Mindfulness. Mindfulness. Mindfulness.

Unlike Rome where we stayed at the Massimo D’Azeglio hotel, in Firenze we stayed at the Le Stanze del Duomo B&B. Both highly recommended. Since both are quite central, we could walk all day and come home in the evening exhausted, fed, fed up, drunk, happy, pissy; basically anything without any problems. Both are also very close to regular supermarkets with late closing hrs (22:00) so we could buy bites, water, wine etc to take away to the room when we couldn’t be bothered with the “Go out & eat” farce.

Tip: Find your go to places for essentials such as water, aspirin, sun screen, wine, beer or whatever rocks your rickety boat.

We had a map with us, which I can read to 70% proximity, and a red pen to mark places, of course. My partner’s eye rolled almost every time I said “we turn right!” My map reading can spice the walking a great deal. He is good with the “well done! you are a life saver! what would I do without you?!” part when I get it right though.

Tip: A supportive travel partner is essential; otherwise, go it alone if you want to enjoy the trip.

I lied, I had my training shoes with me. For all the walking. Asics in black, red & white bought in 2015.

Tip: Take your trainers or comfort shoes with you! They will save your life.

Next entry: Tuscany 2017:  For the “I don’t speak Italian smile smile” Traveler