Florence, Pisa, Genoa – Italy

The best holidays are those that we travel on our own, at our pace and choosing our own itinerary. After some nightmarish tours with gluttons, inconsiderate tourists, slow loris and other tourists from hell, we swear never to follow tour groups, ever.

The best investment when planning a holiday to faraway destinations is a guidebook. I prefer Fodors over Lonely Planet. Lonely Planet is more for the backpackers. Fodors caters for families like mine. One guidebook costs about RM150 to RM200. But it is worth it. We even learnt how to cheat by finding free rides on buses!

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If you watch Triumph in the Sky, you may recognise this place where Flora Chan and that fellow whatisname having lots of coffee on the balcony.

This is Florence. Man, the whole city is really, really old. Including plumbing works that freeze your bottom! I really admire how the Italians maintain the facade so well. Too bad that I wasn’t a Christian at that time and therefore, failed to connect the place with the religion. I also did not visit any of the churches because most of them have long, long queues. I missed the Sistine Chapel too.

However, we did honour Mother Mary at every shrines we found, asking her to keep us safe from harm (Thank God for that). We met with many Italians who just finished their masses and boy, they really dressed up! Tuxedoes, black dresses, black suits etc.

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This is a replica of the statue of David. The real statue in marble is somewhere in the city. David as in David & Goliath. Do you notice David has big, big hands? Note that these are photos of photos I took. Hence, the odd angle. But David must have been a very handsome man. BTW, David is sometimes referred as ‘Jesus grandfather’.

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We made a quick stop at Pisa. Pisa is so fully of pick-pockets and it was amusing to see these pickpockets who boarded the bus to pick someone’s pocket and then, get down immediately and get on another bus. We had the luck to see the same guy operating his missions twice! Of course, we dare not say a thing because our guidebook had warned us that these people work in a gang.

We looked too poor and hence, they probably pity us more! So, always travel in rags. Rich Japaneses are their targets.

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In all the cities in Italy, Rome is the most notorious. So, whoever is going to Rome, read up and be prepared. There are bad guys everywhere in every form. Children (gipsies), taxi-drivers, immigrants and most of them work in groups. Don’t ever travel without learning how the muggers, robbers and pickpockets operate.

Our guidebook and things I learnt from the internet had made our journey a smooth one. However, a group did try to snatch my husband’s wallet. They intentionally sandwiched him between the Metro (underground train) coin dispensing metal railing. One blocked the way and the other tried to pick his pocket. Again, thank goodness for the guidebook, we were already aware of them and my husband did not take out his wallet to take his money as he had kept small changes in his pockets.

The last photo is the coloseum. Where during the Romans era, they feed Christians to the lions!

We were in Genoa where my husband’s office is. However, Genoa does not have much to offer except dirty streets filled with dogs poo, Christopher Columbus birth town, world 2nd largest aquarium and some nice castle.

Considering that we travelled alone with only maps, guidebooks and the internet, I must say that we are pretty good travellers. At that time, we only brought two of our sons who were aged 8 yrs and 6 yrs old only. Communication is a problem because French people refused to speak English and we had to practically learnt some French. Parlez vous Zanglay? And another one sentence, ‘Which direction’ which I had forgotten.

Italians are much friendlier and lively. I love Italy and hope to return there one day. Italian foods are the best in the world and that’s the main attractions.

Post Author: Lilian

Food, travel, recipes. Chinese Malaysian, blogger, photographer and writer.

6 thoughts on “Florence, Pisa, Genoa – Italy

    fishtail

    (September 30, 2005 - 12:17 am)

    Nice pics and thanks for the tips on pickpockets and all. I was in Rome in my early twenties and walked about the city like an innocent kid (that I was). Luckily the sharks didn’t come after me.

    red

    (September 30, 2005 - 12:34 am)

    that looked like a nice trip 🙂 and this, “The best holidays are those that we travel on our own, at our pace and choosing our own itinerary”, is damn right, tour group organized by travel agency isn’t enjoyable.

    fishtail: whoa you were lucky, pickpockets in rome and some other places in europe (at tourist attractions) are quite well known.

    anasalwa

    (September 30, 2005 - 3:32 am)

    Lilian,
    It seems like you have a wonderful time with your family.

    Mrs B

    (September 30, 2005 - 11:49 am)

    ok, make mental note – never travel in tour group.

    Amber Amethryne

    (October 11, 2005 - 12:41 am)

    CL, I must say I was lucky I’ve had the chance to visit several European countries. Visited Pisa, Verona, Venice & Florence a few years ago. I took a few photos by the ‘balcony’ too! I didn’t get to go to Rome, but I’m glad I didn’t because I’m aware of the pickpockets. I took a gondola ride with friends in Venice, which had murky and smelly waters. I found many Italian men a bit ‘gatal’. They can’t see a woman they’ll start flirting with you even if you wear headscarfs! The drivers there were oblivious of the traffic rules that they could give our M’sian drivers a run for their money!

    I’ve been to France also and didn’t quite like the place. It does help to parlez vous Francais a bit. Someone told me that if you don’t speak French or have forgotten some phrases, just speak to the French in your mother tongue (except English, of course!). Yes, that means Malay, Cantonese, Mandarin, Tamil, etc. They’re more willing to speak to you if you address them first in your mother tongue than English (don’t ask me why). When you’ve got their attention, then you ask whether they could speak English. A friend’s tip: Wait for the summer sales and go to Galleries La Fayette. You can buy designer bags at a fraction of the cost. But remember that wearing or using counterfeit LV or any other French made leather goods is illegal and you can be arrested.

    If you have the opportunity, go to Eastern Europe – more beautiful than Western Europe. The people are friendlier too. Of all the European countries that I’ve visited, I like the UK, Germany, Switzerland & Slovenia the best. I miss the freshly made chocs in Belgium and Switzerland!! 🙂

    […] I had been to the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy. Now, I can claim visit the world 2nd leaning tower in our very own country in Teluk Intan. I tried googling to find out if there are more leaning towers in the world but the searches only bring up the one in Pisa, Italy. […]

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