TRAVEL THERE: THEY LOST ME AT LIVORNO
This wasn’t my first cruise, so I am aware of the fact gateway cities can be pretty disappointing. As a disappointment, Livorno did not disappoint. The day got better, but never as good as I hoped it would be.
“90-Minute Drive Through the Beautiful Tuscan Countryside”
Newsflash: the highway we took to Florence didn’t take us through the beautiful Tuscan country side. It was a highway. We could have been circling Detroit.
Though the Celebrity site did not tell me specifically to be expecting an ultra-luxury bus, the shore excursion I picked was a Celebrity Discovery Collection Event. According to Dallas’ Celebrity rep, these tours were worth the extra you paid to be a part of them. Perhaps he didn’t intend to give me the impression I should expect more in every aspect of the tour, but we had a more luxurious bus in Cancun. The Celebrity vehicle was adequate as tour buses go, but I wished for my Cancun Passion bus.
Our first stop was not Pitti Palace as advertised. Instead, it was a convenience store. Apparently, we needed a pre-Florence potty stop, so the alarms started going off in my head. Things were going downhill fast.
The pay phone is just a little bonus. They have them all over the place in Europe. Try finding one state-side.
So, riding along in our adequate bus, we soon figured out our guide was no Paolo. We’re not sure whether she just left her personality at home that day or she simply didn’t have one at all, but after the charming and erudite Paolo, she was a real disappointment.
“Your first stop takes you to the decadent Palazzo Pitti.”
Well, I’ve already told you about the first stop and it was no Palazzo. Our next stop was not a Palazzo either. We’d obviously arrived at some lovely place in Italy, but it was not the Pitti Palace. No, we were about to hoof it to the Pitti Palace via the rest of Florence.
Initially, this “stroll” wasn’t so awful. It was nice to stroll among the picturesque by-ways of Florence and when she wasn’t running off and leaving all of us, our guide did have a few salient facts to share with us. We stopped by the Uffizi Gallery and even though we didn’t get to enter, it was fun to learn it was once the home and workrooms of the Medicis and charming to see the artists setting up.
After a little more circuitous wandering, we came to the famous Ponte Vecchio across the Arno River. The guide who had been strolling through the city, as if we had hour to linger over every detail, suddenly picked up the pace, at the point I would have been happy to amble. She assured us we’d get more time on the bridge later.
Though we knew she was no Paolo, we had not yet learned she was untrustworthy, so we continued to trudge along behind her. Then suddenly, with no kind of signage or gates to tell us, we were at Pitti Palace. It was a sort of odd palace. Right in the middle of things, no gate, no moat, just a multi-story facade, and while it was imposing, it was in no way magnificent.
I’ll leave you here for today. Once inside, Pitti Palace makes up for it’s rather dreary exterior. Come back next week and we’ll explore the wonders of Palazzo Pitti together.