Saturday, October 13, 2012

Italia Days 12-13: Firenze to Grosseto to Firenze to Milano to Praha!

My last full day in Italy was spent travelling with Francesco in his car to Southern Tuscany. We met two of his good friends, Lucia and Chiara, at a beach close to Grosseto. This beach was what I had been hoping for when I went to Tirrenia. The water was a deep blue-green. There was a gorgeous view of an old castle built into the rocky shore far down the beach, and it wasn't totally crowded. The weather was perfect. Francesco and I went for a long swim in the sea as soon as we arrived. We swam out far from the shore and floated on our backs, enjoying the feeling of being in the ocean. The sea was calm and soothing.

Lucia, Franci and I

Chiara, Lucia and I

Lucia and Chiara were really friendly, and after we swam and napped on the beach, we went to Lucia's place in a breathtaking little town, about a 40 minute drive through gorgeous countryside. There, we took showers and prepared for the trip back to Grosseto, where Francesco would drop me off at the train station. Lucia and Chiara would meet him there later to go to a music festival.

Unfortunately, things didn't go exactly as planned. We went the wrong way leaving Lucia's, and drove in the wrong direction for 20 minutes before we realized the mistake. After we turned around, there was barely enough time to make it to Grosseto in time to catch my train to Santa Maria Novella in Florence, where I would then transfer to another train to Milan. I had planned to take the last train of the day. If I didn't get there that evening, I would miss my train to Milan, and therefore miss my flight in the morning. When we ran into traffic, all hope of reaching Grosseto in time for the train was lost. The only solution was for Francesco to turn around and drive me in his car the 2 1/2 hours back to Florence, missing the music festival with Lucia and Chiara. It was frustrating and I felt really bad, but it was really a blessing in disguise. We had wonderful conversations and enjoyed a beautiful sunset drive through Tuscany.

Beautiful Tuscany

It was a warm goodbye I said to Francesco. I was sad to leave Italy, but I felt that I had made a friend who I would see again. As soon as Franci drove away, I found a seat on the floor of the train station to wait on my train, and opened my journal to write about my impressions. I wrote that this had been the best trip I have ever taken, and one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I would spend that night at a picnic table outside a McDonald's across from Milano Centrale, waiting to board the train to the airport at 5 AM. Reluctantly, I left Italia to return "home" to the Czech Republic, where many new challenges and experiences lie in wait.