Running in Florence, sitting in Wales

A mixed up sort of week!  On Saturday last we went to Florence for a few days.  My niece has been studying there this year and we went to catch up with her, to revisit Florence and to have a few days away.

It was cold at home in Wales once you left the warmth of the woodburner.  Italy was cloudy but milder and as we travelled by bus from Pisa airport to Florence there was blossom piled on the bare branches of trees.  I don't think I have been to Italy this early in the year before.  The grass was still green.  Even without the sun there was a faint sense of spring around the corner. 

We had booked a place to stay through Airbnb, which we use a lot when we travel.  It was about forty minutes walk from the station or a taxi ride.  We walk a lot when we are in foreign cities so we walked there, in default mode, although by the time we arrived I was tired and hungry.  It seemed a long time since we had left home that morning when we finally pitched up at the apartment at around six thirty.  I had booked something which was cheaper by virtue of being a little out of town and a little old fashioned in style.  You never know when you do something like that whether you will hit a gem or kick yourself and wish you had gone for the expensive but reliable and central option.  The reviews were good.  I crossed my fingers.  And it was lovely: light and spacious and full of classic wooden furniture so huge you can't imagine it will ever leave the building.  While the kitchen and bathroom were old fashioned, everything was clean and the beds were comfortable.  It felt far removed from bland hotel life, like having your own little piece of Florence.  Result.

It was lovely to see Ellie and to be just a little removed from tourist life.  We went to a restaurant near where she lives and wandered the streets and squares.  I liked the fact that in the six months or so since she went to Florence she has her own sense of the bars and cafes where she feels at home and that Santo Spirito was "her" square.  Because we have been to Florence before we did not feel the need to join the queues (even in March) for the galleries and major sights.  What must it be like in summer?  We just wandered about really, stopping for ice cream or coffee or something to eat.  Even with all its visitors and with the inevitable tourist tat here and there Florence is a beautiful city.  We climbed with Ellie far above the city and the river.  That is where I would live if I lived in Florence, in yet another little imaginary life.

On Tuesday morning I ran by the Arno and felt for the first time that most of the run was OK.  I must have been helped by how much there was to look at and by the astonishment I felt at being there.  There are fewer things you do for the first time when you are sixty four but running by the Arno in Florence in Spring, that was a first!

We were shown around the art school where Ellie has been studying.  We sat outside in a cafe and felt the warmth of the sun.  We ate in a bustling pizza restaurant full of families and colleagues and groups of friends where we seemed to be the only foreigners.  I have been focussing on trying to learn Spanish and every time I opened my mouth I could remember none of the fairly small amount of Italian I know, Spanish was what wanted to come out.  I decided to give up and stay with English but it reminded me of how much I love the sound of Italian.  When my Spanish is a bit better I might come round again.

On the day we flew home Ian was not feeling well.  We had to get up very early and walked again to the station through the emptiness of early morning.  For the first half of the walk I enjoyed seeing Florence wake but then it started to rain a cold drenching rain and my knickers decided to work their way down under my skirt.  By the time we got to the bus the walk was undoubtedly up there in my "most uncomfortable walks of my life". 

When we arrived at Manchester Airport Ian was feeling bad enough not to want to drive, which is very rare occurrence, so I drove home.  And that should have been the end of this blog: a short, early spring break in a beautiful city. 

At half past seven we ate scrambled eggs and by half past eight I was feeling so bad I went to bed.  By ten I began to be sick and spent most of the night wanting to die.  Despite not feeling well himself Ian looked after me as I staggered back and forth to the bathroom.  Thursday was a blur, Friday a bit better.  And today, Sunday, I am dressed and eating and back in the land of the living.  I went outside for the first time today and although it is cold and the wind quickly blew me back in again the field is blowing with daffodils.

Talk about all human life is here.


  1. YIkes! It doesn't seem fair that you had to pay so dearly for what otherwise sounds like a delightful getaway in Florence. Isn't it wonderful to run in a different city? For me, at least, it makes me feel all kinds of amazing; even after being a runner for many years, I still can't quite believe I'm doing this thing that feels rather strong and intrepid on new terrain.
    Hope you're feeling back to full health soon.

    1. That's exactly it! I felt amazing, strong and brave. Just wonderful sensation and the fact that I wasn't running fast didn't seem to matter at all. Just that I was there!

  2. Hope you are both bounced back meanwhile! (I enjoyed Florence, about 40 years ago, getting lost as we wandered. Never did find THAT shop again)

    1. Just about bounced back! I'm hoping to run again for the first time this morning. Fingers crossed ! Florence is full of those marvelous little shops. I fell in love with a paper shop!

  3. Sounds to me like you are a bonafide runner now, running while on holiday :o).

    1. What a great idea! I'd love to think of myself as a bona fide runner! Still finding it a bit hard though, but with a real buzz from having done it!

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