The next day was quite warm and clear, so we caught the Eurostar to Rome. The Eurostar is the best way to go long distances quickly, but you have almost no time to point at things. The country goes past at 200kph. Eurostar built special lines that are straight and flat, valleys are bridged, hills are tunnelled. Everyone's phones dropped out in the tunnels, so the moment we emerged the carriage filled with ring tones.
Two hours later we were buying a bus ticket for a tour around the city that we could leave and join as required. I worked out we'd have enough time to see the Coloseum and the Forum. We could have seen a little more if we hustled but I didn't want to rush.
What you see of the Coloseum now is the skeleton; the bare bricks and concrete left behind after the building was plundered of its marble during the middle ages. The wooden floor collapsed many years ago but in 1995 a group of archeologists recreated a small section. We wandered around for a few hours, said "Wow" a lot and occasionally said "We're standing in the Coloseum!" The beige-coloured stone has graffiti on it, mostly names, some declaring "Firenze Regina!" and one "Fuck off nazi scum!" The narrow tunnels gave me a few gearworld moments.
Then we walked through the Forum.
We Walked through THE Forum.
THE Forum. The one used by the Romans. That Forum. The one that funny things happen on the way to. I said "Whoa. Forum" a lot. There are still a lot of archeological digs happening in the area. It's all ruins and fallen columns and stonefoundations, with the occasional temple still standing. Still, Whoa. Forum. Wow.
We met the bus on the other side, near Trajan's Column showing all his triumphs. It was his answer to the critics. "Hey Trajan! You suck!" "Talk to the column, dude."
Instead of the big coach we were in the little one done upto look like a tram. It was cute, but uncomfortable. It took us past the old Pope's home, all the famous fountains, and other landmarks that you always hear of in songs and old movies. We even drove past the Circus Maximus. (Russell Crowe, check. Charleton Heston, check)
We'd run out of time, and arrived back in Florence at 9pm.
The next day was spent just walking around Florence. We caught a bus up to Piazza del Michelangelo to take one of those bloody typical postcard photos everyone takes of Firenze, then back to the centre of the city. We saw the original statue of David in its museum Galleria del Accademia, wandered back to Piazza Signoria for a last beer at the Michael Collins Irish Pub and to say goodbye to Carlos (he wants to go to Australia and see his cousin in Warnambool) then wandered across Pote Vecchio one last time.
Bruno took us to dinner that night. I had a pizze quattro formaggi, Aaron had a pizze magherita, and we shared a Florentine Steak: a 1kg slab of beef. Bruno told us earlier Italians can park where there isn't a parking space. He proved this by fitting his Modeo station wagon into a space that left less than 6" at either end. When we came out after dinner we discovered someone had parked in front of the Fiat in front of the Mondeo, and had pushed it back against our bumper. Bruno simply used his car to push the Fiat forward until it was against the BMW, then used that extra space to get out. "We park by feel" he explained.
The following day (yesterday) we checked out of Hotel David, said goodbye to Michael at the desk, caught the train from Firenze SMN to Pisa CE, then a taxi to Galeleo Galeli International Airport, and waited for our plane. If we'd not been weighed down by luggage, we'd have caught a taxi to the Leaning Tower. It was only a few minutes away and there were no lockers for us to leave our bags. Ryanair wouldn't check us in until 60 minutes before the flight departed so by the time we were free of baggage it was too late to see anything. Bugger.
Ryanair seats are single class, cattleclass, cramped and don't have entertainment. You can't expect much for 1 pence (plus airport fees). We were the first to board so we grabbed a seat up front. An hour later we were over the Alps, and an hour after that we were at Stanstead picking up our Vauxhall Corsa. The temperature here gets upto 5*C. In Florence it dropped as low as 15*C. The Florentines wear thick quilted coats with fur collars. The English wear a wooly hat. I put on my wooly jumper, but Aaron is impervious to cold. He loves it while I find it a little chilly. He found Florence to be too hot and slept with the windows open. I was woried a pigeon might get in and cough on him.
Tomorrow we visit the factory in Dunstable.