Yes, I'm back in dark, sad, autumny Belgium, while yesterday in Firenze it felt like an outstanding late summer day. And I'm back in the misery and clownesque theatre I was able to avoid for a week : financial crisis, savings problems, US elections, Begian budget problems, political and other stupid news. It was nice while it lasted.

I saw Firenze, Pisa, Lucca, Siena, San Geminiani, Carrara and Montecatini, where we stayed. The town is full of majestic looking palace hotels of the early twentieth century with enormous lobbies and tiny rooms. Many of these hotels apparently do not know the difference between two and four star comfort. I do not need four stars, not by a long shot, but I do not like misleading publicity either. There are not that many tourists in Montecatini, except for busload upion busload of Italian retirees. But it's their country after all. And our own twenty strong group was a sure antidote and a real pleasure to be with.

I had seen and enjoyed Siena before, but Pisa's "Piazza dei Miracoli" litterally took my breath away. It was difficult to tear myself away. In my view, ten duomo's, each one as beautiful as the one in Florence, could not compete with the duomo of Pisa. It is one of the most beautiful buildings - inside and out - which I ever saw. Except for its Giotto campanile, the Firenze duomo cannot even compete with the marvel in Sienna.

Firenze was another story. The arrogance of ages past still is perceptible, and, even this late in October, the monuments are flooded with tourists. I almost stepped away from the security measures (circus ?) at the Uffizi. The world famous museum leaves a distinctly sloppy impression and too many top pieces are being restored, lent out for other expositions or are left without any documentation.

Except in the immediate vicinity of the monuments, central Firenze is a rather dirty city full of grafitty and trash. It does not invite to a repeat visit. Been there, seen that, done that. Period.

But the real winner of the trip is and remains the undescribably beautiful and enchanting Tuscany landscape in its autumn colors.

I shall not post any pictures with this article : they couldn't possibly show the splendor of the cities and landscapes of Tuscany.

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