Friday, 22 November, 2013
So, now we are in Italy – a country with great ice cream, beautiful architecture and pointless train timetables. Honestly, if you wind up with a job interview in Italy and you plan to attend via train, I suggest setting off three days early to guarantee that you don’t miss it.
Each train that we have taken so far has been at least fifty minutes behind schedule – train station walls have never seemed so familiar. I’m going to sound like a trainspotting nerd when telling my holiday stories at home, “In total we spent one hour at the Colosseum and forty-seven hours in the train station waiting for trains to come in.”
They never explain why a train is so late either, so each time you are left guessing. I picture the train driver watching old clips from Leeds United’s 1991/92 title winning season on YouTube – we all know how easy it is to lose track of time watching us put six past Sheffield Wednesday.
Our first stop in Italy was Venice, you know, the place with the weird boats. I was actually going to pay for a romantic gondola ride for Amy and I – but then I read the price, forty quid for twenty minutes! Each minute would be two pounds! Bloody hell! A bowl of pasta in Venice is romantic enough, I think.
I actually saw a bloke pay for a twenty minute gondola ride for him and his partner, I can only assume it was their honeymoon at that cost, and the stupid cow spent the whole time staring into her mobile phone. If I spunked forty quid on a girl and she chose to play on the internet rather than take in the moment, I would have pushed her overboard.
On the subject; do you want to know why gondolas are black? Because, in the 16th century regulations changed to prevent the upper-class from trying to 1-0 each other with flamboyant colours and accessories. You know who told us that, the man that served our pasta. We had knowledge and romance in our evening.
Thus, based on the evidence on show, phones in the pocket and a bowl of pasta is a far wiser choice than a gondola ride – finally, the cheaper man gets their shine.
Venice is undeniably beautiful, but also, somewhat rather repetitive.
It’s lovely the way a Simon Cowell TV show is entertaining. Initially, you’re charmed by the concept. However, six streets later, you’re still seeing a carbon copy of the first street that had satisfied your helmet three hours earlier. Same characters, same songs; the only difference being the faces.
Venice makes great viewing, but great viewing on repeat – deflating one’s interest the further they go. At the start we were Will Young – the bridges, river, gondolas, shops offering ornaments made of glass, ice cream stalls, men on the pathway selling fake Louis Vuitton bags; this was all new and exciting. By 6pm, we were Joe McElderry (I don’t know any winners after that) – our attention was still there, but through habit rather than excitement.
So, to sum up Venice, it is pretty on the eye, though I would recommend limiting your time there – unless of course, you like glass carved into the shape of flowers, then you’ll be in for days of fun.
I personally preferred Florence. It rained a lot during our time there, but much to our surprise, that only offered further, alternative, displays of the city’s beauty. We were frequently entering old churches and museum hallways simply for shelter, only to discover unexpectedly stunning architecture and artwork.
They’re also rather keen on the naked male form here, a lot of blokes with their todger’s out are presented in sculptured form up and down the city. Particularly David’s little pecker, which turns up in numerous spots, that boy gets around.
I may go to my next fancy dress party as David. Let’s face it, you won’t find an easier outfit to put together. I might need to do a few press-ups beforehand though.
Woman dressed as a cute bunny: “Christ, Sarah! There is a naked bloke in your kitchen just casually pouring himself some vodka.”
Woman dressed as a 60’s hippy girl: “Oh relax, Denise. He’s just come as an Italian sculpture.”
Woman dressed as a cute bunny: “Oh, how creative. And what an incredible body!”
At least, that’s how I picture it going anyway.
While in Florence, we also climbed to the top of both the Brunelleschi’s Dome (463 steep steps) and Giotto’s Campanile (414 steep steps). It was here that I realised that my hope of a David physique was nothing more than a pipe-dream. If there was one thing that I learned from those spiraling stairs, it is that exercise is my enemy. I’m sure exercise and I will meet again one day, but for now, we were well and truly on a break.
It was a tough old journey; but we made it. The view over the whole city made the pain worthwhile, as looking down on Florence really is a marvellous joy.
We finished our week with a day trip to Pisa, to see the iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa – which incidentally, is another 294 steps to the top. They cannot get enough of steps here – I reckon when the locals buy a flat, the majority request the top floor and buildings with no lifts.
“So, here is your kitchen. As you can see, the place comes with a brand new stove, and…”
“I’ll stop you there. Exactly how many steps did we take to get to this floor?”
“Oh, erm. Only 25?”
“Jeez. Most people are going to want at least 200. Good luck selling this place, mate.”
Watching people position themselves for a photo at the tower is highly entertaining too. Around 90% of the guests are eager to trick us all with a picture of them pushing the attraction. Thus, the field becomes packed with people pressing their hands against thin air.
If you do go to the Leaning Tower of Pisa and ‘push’ the monument upright, then, I’m afraid you’re lacking in creativity. The scene made me realise that the world on a whole is not very individualistic. We should really improve on that – we need more leaders and less followers.
I’ll tell you what, how about this, the next time you’re at the pub with your gang and they all order a beer, grab yourself one of those mojito drinks with half a plant sticking out of it. I reckon your courage will be noted, leadership skills admired and before you know it the whole table will be drinking wildlife booze out of a straw.