A train from Venezia to Firenze; Venice to Florence.
The whole of the world calls half of Italy by names that the Italians don’t; and then wonder why the Italians wave their arms around all the time.
As I have been getting considerable mileage out of - Karl has vanished into Octoberfest and I have a very long weekend with the girls in Firenze. This involves navigating the Italian rail system, and two of the biggest train stations with two kids, a backpack, suitcase and my normal hand/camera bag. Actually, I take more baggage home from Woolworths every second day in Darwin, but for the dramatisation…. I continue.
The thing I don’t do when I leave Woolworths is walk up and down stairway bridges over Venezian canals. I have dedicated a lot of my time in Italy to stockpiling calories, so I had a lot of energy to draw upon. My sister was also with us for this stretch, so she took the kids, which then made me look like Alicia Silverstone with that many bags for one person. I reach the final canal before the train station and some dude masquerading as a gentleman insisted on carrying just the suitcase. I declined 3 times. He was rife with the stench of a scam, yet he forcefully took it off me, completely undoing his gentlemanly facade and reinforcing my instinct. So, I told him I wasn’t paying and he looked aghast at the suggestion. This made me feel like an absolute mole, and led to the next conclusion; probably a really great guy with a tonne of integrity, just doing something kind hoping to pick me up for a quickie before I caught a train out of town. Wrong again. Thirty seconds later, he was literally asking for FIVE EURO. TWENTY SECONDS !! I also note that he wasn’t three or thirty three canals back, just very generously waiting by the last and final crossing to provide a measly 20 seconds service. What a jerk. I gave him €1 and offered to take him outside. Stiff competition for who was more pissed off.
We dumped our bags, took on the Venetian Lagoon for a day trip, and returned to catch the train. I was absolutely killing it, mostly in part to the fact that my sister had to leave 30 minutes before us, so I had to be back at the station with time to spare. Details. Arrived at the platform with 10 minutes to spare. In fact, the train wasn’t even there. So rather than waste time wondering why, I rewarded myself with the most massive cup of tea one could imagine and some muffins for the girls to enjoy. Immediately thereafter, the departure board spoke to me in Italian and informed me that the departing platform had changed. Holy shit. I would pay REALLY GOOD money to watch that sprint to the other end of the station in slow motion. Congested crowd, all the bags, two kids trying to eat muffins, not watch where they are going, me prioritising keeping my tea in the cup as I hoisted the kids up the steps and onto the train; which was making all these fancy brake releasing, gear crunching sounds to indicate it was pulling away. Academy Award winning performance train, take a bow.
The train ride was great. The girls got to exercise their eyes with sweeping Tuscan landscapes at 250km/h, and brushing up on their Italian by reading the TrenItalia onboard magazine. Of particular interest, the latest exhibition of nudes at some modern art gallery, and the excavation of Pompei in all its skull and bone glory. Suffice to say these Italian articles that no one read an actual word of, have received a intense amount of discussion and detailed analysis since. Peak conversation with Matisse at “why can they show their private parts in the magazine but I am not allowed to?” Presume she meant ‘in general’ and doesn’t harbour some aspirations to be a centrefold…