Our first day in Florence, also known locally as Firenze, and we woke up late, but made it JIT (just in time at 8:45 am) for a partial breakfast with grumpy women cleaning everything up as quickly as they could. Breakfast was cereal, melba toast in packages, orange juice, coffee or tea, jam but no butter. Pretty basic. If there was more, we didn’t see it!
Here’s the Setting: 5 km from the train station, up hill on the outskirts of town, the old villa hostel, Ostello & Camping Villa Camerata, is located between vineyards and plots of yellow mustard carpeted fruit trees. Since it’s a REAL villa with courtyard, patios, views, arbors, fountain and all, it means some things are a bit old fashioned. No elevators, so we were truly lucky in getting a bungalow for two instead of dorm room. Apparently, there are several French school kids staying this week (we found that out today when they all returned from a field trip!), and there are three floors of rooms – Spring break?
Along the walkway / driveway to front gates
The front entrance gate and front patio with fountain
The wisteria arbor on the side – sweet smelling!
The Lobby of Ostello & Camping Villa Camerata, Florence
On checking in last night at 9 pm, the gravel courtyard did wonders to our luggage wheels, and when we were told our room location, we were greatly disappointed to have to lug them BACK out to go around the courtyard wall and reach our bungalow. So, we left them at the front desk. This morning however, the receptionist said it was too crowded and offered to move them to our bungalow for us!
We found the laundry room from a sign pointing down a wide gravel path sloping downward in the back of the villa. We were told it was underground … ominous sounding. (BTW – the laundry room really IS in “a dungeon,” as described by a Reviewer of the hostel!) At least it was well lit and smelled clean – like … laundry! We had purchased tokens to operate the machines – 6 EU for wash and dry, detergent included. Good deal!
Down to the Dungeon! And the Warning Sign …
Amy ran around and did backflips on the lawn in the back courtyard, while I played Scrabble on the iPad. Then we moved to the lobby where the Wifi was, and did the online stuff till the laundry was done. We were just dying to get outside after the laundry!
We were greeted with the colors of Spring from the Wisteria flowers covering the trellises and perfuming the air, the boughs of yellow petite rose clusters on long arching vines, and light green leaf growth hiding the delicate, shy wild flowers along our walk to the streets of Florence. The early afternoon sunshine was warm. We only needed our scarves and our shirtsleeves to walk outside. Such a difference from windy and cool Venice, as well as cold and rainy Istanbul!
A late lunch (hey, follows the late breakfast) at 1 pm. The driveway is a 400 meter walk downhill – think, “uphill” on the return trip! We were so hungry, we entered the first reasonable osteria – I’Giuggiolo. Forewarned that cost of things were more expensive than Venice, we were delightfully surprised to see that it was NOT TRUE! Pizza averaged 7.50 EU, salads were 7 EU, and even the water was only 1.80 EU. MUCH less than in Venice. I don’t know WHERE the girls went to eat, but so far, it looked good for us. The pizza and the salad were very good sized. Our lunch total came out to 15 EU, and no 12% service charge! So we dropped 3 EU for tip.
Before I fell asleep sitting in the osteria, we decided to walk around a bit. Amy wanted to take another route back to the hostel. We did – and it was a good walk, BUT did NOT take us back the way we thought it would, based on the Google map on the iPad. We doubled back several times, and walked along what looked like a road on the map, but was only a rocky and grassy path, tried to climb over a barbed wired gate and wall behind the hostel, but ended up going 360 degrees around the hill. I’d say two hours is a good amount of walking…
Some surprising find on our walk uphill back to the hostel – baby birds under a Yucca tree’s leaves! They were so young that their eyes hadn’t opened yet, and fuzz instead of feathers. The response to any noise was instantaneous opening of the beaks!
For a couple of more hours, we went online again, and then took dinner at the hostel. Note the THREE Sony Vaios! It’d be a great ad.
The hostel has a large kitchen area (it WAS a villa, remember), and offers a 2-course basic meal for 10.50 EU, or 6 EU for the 1st course, and 7 EU for the 2nd course (main), as well as drinks and sides. Today’s menu was a choice of Marinara Spaghetti or Pesto Pasta for the 1st course, and a choice of Roast Pork, Turkey Meatloaf, or Hamburger, with sides of salad and peas, slice of bread (no butter), and a fruit of apple or orange. Amy chose the Roast Pork, and I the Turkey Meatloaf. They were both perhaps mistakes… anyway, the pork was paper thin, and Amy was thankful the peas – though over cooked as usual, were tasty. The meatloaf was an Italian’s idea of healthy, I’m sure – it had a green middle, perhaps of spinach? Anyway, it could have been flavored particle board. Well, the fruits were good!
The dining room soon was noisily filled up with the French students and their chaperones, teachers and miscellaneous folks. I noticed that the kids’ plates had large slices of ham or grilled sausages instead of what was listed for the rest of us. Wonder what that’s all about.
End of a pleasant day… good night!