It was early. OK, it was earlyish as we couldn't resist the Italian breakfast. I love an English fry-up but I tell you what, the Italians know a thing or two about breakfast too, particularly where the coffee was concerned! Black, like treacle and in medically miniscule quantity. I suspect if you drank more than a thimble you'd be flying for the rest of the day. Needn't have worried as there was no sign of anything approaching a mug!
And so we left Pisa, full of pastry and a thirst for more caffeine, and headed into the beautiful hills and valleys of this iconic region of Europe, sweeping from left to right as far as the eye could see. Sadly, 'as far as the eye could see' wasn't very far at all: the entire region was enveloped in a thick, gloopy, impenetrable fog. Nothing. Not a thing: we drove right through the middle of one of my bucket list without seeing anything more than a tyre-pressure-warning on the rental car. And that was a drama I didn't need (luckily Italian 4G is incredibly good even high in the mountains so we could look up what the warning - in Italian - meant and fix it.)
Eventually, and disappointingly, we descended from the mountains as the fog cleared and headed across to Florence, knowing that one day we'll have to return another day if we want to actually see any of this reputedly stunning area.
The sun came out.
And the city knocked the breath out of me. It is, quite simply, one of the most beautiful cities I have ever had the joy to be in. Suddenly, the lack of Tuscany vistas was forgotten as the sheer glory of this city washed over me.
The architecture, the people, the art, the sculptures, the river, the food, the art, the beer, the art (have I mentioned the art?) I have always wanted to visit this seat of the Renaissance and, even though I have must have seen a hundred different documentaries about the home of the Medici family, it quite simply surpassed everything I could have conjured up in my imagination.
There are one or two things you should know about Florence if you ever get to visit:
In the next installment, I'll talk about the reason we found ourselves in Italy - our visit to the Graphistudio headquarters where our beautiful albums are hand made.
Enjoy a few images from Florence!