Florence May 08
Florence Travel Blog› entry 1 of 2 › view all entries
Flew from Glasgow (via London Luton) to Pisa. Almost a disaster before I left when I realised after being dropped at the airport that I didn't have my mobile phone with me. First time I'd used a public call box in years as I phoned home to get my phone brought over, as I realised how much I was relying on it for keeping in contact and arranging to meet people. Old rule used to be 'So long as you've got your passport and a credit card you'll be fine' but it was amended that day to include my mobi.
Having been in Pisa before, didn't feel the need too see around it and headed directly to Lucca by train.
Went out and had a stroll round Lucca, remebering directions easily from last time and went up onto the walls and walked round a section of it, as it was a glorious sunny day. My mate Gordon was bringing his girlfriend,Izzy, (as after I had left they were going to go onto Milan shopping) and he phoned when they arrived.
Arranged to meet them in the Piazza St Michele, but decided to go back to the hotel and get changed first, as (correctly) I assumed that would be me out for the night then. Met them in one of the many street cafes and we sat and had a couple of beers. Much nicer sitting out at this time of year.
Spent the Wednesday wandering in Lucca and walked all the way round the walls, coming down from time to time to sit and chill in a bar. While we were sitting in one of the bars Izzy went to an ATM to lift some money and found her bank card had been stopped. I'd heard of it happening before, but it seems to be a lot more common these days. A warning to carry more than one , as the banks clamp down on fraud. She phoned her mum later who said the bank had phoned the house, and her mum had told them she was in Italy, yet they still kept the card blocked. Ended up having to phone the bank back in the UK and spent 20 minutes getting through to the right place and then having to verify the last 5 transactions.
Thursday was again a great day and we set off in Gordons hire car and drove to Florence. I thought he knew his way in Florence, but a series of lucky guesses and sporadic sign posts for the ground got us there. We had decided to dump the car up at the stadium, where we could get it after the match, and then go into town and meet up with some other mates. Asked a few locals and we were soon on a bus back into town and met the boys that were over for the day trip down in the Piazza Signoria. It was May 1st, a public holiday in Italy, but the boys had been resourceful and had managed to get a couple of crates of beer.
Finally decided to go up to the ground, as we had been warned security would be tight as this was a European Semi-Final and we had to have our passports with us as names had been printed on the match tickets. Had no problem finding the rest of the guys who had gone up earlier, as one of them had decided to replace the Uefa flag and run our club one up the flagpole. The setting was perfect , as the sun was setting over the hills overlooking the ground. Turned out tobe the best night I think all of us have had at a game, despite it being 0-0. Game went into extra time,Rangers had a player sent off and yet we held on to go and win the penalty shoot out ( after missing the first penalty).
With the game going to penalties and by the time the police had kept us back to allow the Fiorentina famns to clear,it was nearly midnight before we got out of the ground. Said goodbye to the boys and Gordon and I went to go and find the car. Stopped off at one of the stalls round the ground to get something to eat and I got a couple of beers( Gordon was driving :-( ) and there were still a few Fiorentina fans about, but they were still very gracious and hospitable which says a lot about the people of Florence. Got back to Lucca at quarter to two and decided to call it a night, we could spend the whole of Friday celebrating.
And we did, eventually after finally getting up. Spent the day cafe hopping and then at night Gordon had phoned one of the locals he works with when he is out there and got them to book the best restaurant in Lucca and we went there, tanning a few bottles of champagne along with the meal.
Saturday I had an early start and Gordon gave me a lift to Pisa airport at 8am. Met a few Bears heading home the same way so it was OK travelling to Luton. Once there though the ones heading for Glasgow had an 11 hour wait, so rather than hanging about the airport bars all day(and risk not getting on the flight that night) a few of us decided to go to the Luton Town v Hudderfield game. Kind of surreal coming from the high of qualifying for a Euro final to going to a 3rd division relegation game. Had gone for the cheapest tickets when we bought them and ended in with the local nutters, and was quite funny explaining to them why we were there.
Made it home.......eventually