Day 1 - Firenze

So we went to Florence.I am rather sad to be home 🏡 - it was really very very fun, and just a little bit ridiculous 💃, and I am having slight withdrawal.  TEAM, it was great.We actually left on Wednesday evening - I scooped up Jamie and Emily and their luggage from Clapham and off we went to stay near Gatwick ✈️.  I suspect Jamie 👦 is a very organised individual, and I think a little terrified by the prospect of three unwieldy girls 👧👩👵 organising his weekend for him.  But he gamely got in the car 🚗 with us, and we picked up George 👦 enroute and with only one (very small) heated discussion between Emily and I (Jamie and George talked politely to each other whilst we got rageful and then made up) - we arrived safely at the airport on Thursday morning to meet the other members of the team.  We had a quick breakfast 🍛, did some reel revision curtesy of The Swinging Sporran, bought all those forgotten things in Boots, went to the loo and got on the plane.And off we went.  Well almost.  Jamie and Ed it turns out, had decided they needed extra breakfast so had sneaked off to Macdonalds 🍔🍟 - and somehow, who knows how, managed to MISS THE FLIGHT.Yup.  So off we went to Florence two men down - but at least they got their sausage and egg mcmufffins 🍔😉.On arrival we acquired two extra friendly friends 👦👦 for our transfer to the hotel, and our nice driver delivered us and our luggage to Villa Carlotta in one piece, with only a few mutterings about the level of noise we were making - I mean we were excited.It was lunch time 🍝 - and Antonio 👦 in the reception recommended we go to 4 Leoni, so off we pottered.  After some erroneous map reading 📈 and having sat down in the wrong restaurant (we all became incredibly embarrassed and British and didn't want to leave, but took the plunge 'so sorry we wanted pizza 😳') and ran away across the square sheepishly 🐑🐑 to 4 Leoni.Lunch was really delightful - I had the house special, Fiocchetti di Pera (pasta filled with pear and cheese with a cream and asparagus sauce and it is delicious - a really perfect combination) 🍝 - and we also had some yummy starters and very nice 🍷wine recommended by the super friendly waiter who didn't seem in the least bemused that his restaurant was overrun with Brits.  So we ate the food 🍝, and drank some wine 🍷, and got to know each other better, and talked about animals - mostly hamsters and dinosaurs 🐉, it turns out many of us are dinosaur fans...We then collected Suzie, Harry and James who had made it all the way from Edinburgh (properly Scottish) and had THE most delightful ice cream 🍧, a quick two scoops, one 'cioccolato fondente e arancia' and the other 'fior di latte e rose' in Gelateria della Passera.  One euro a scoop, exactly the right amount, just so good, definitely go.   (I had a lovely little photo which Emily very kindly deleted for me...)Next up was a quick nap 💤 and then time for the main event of the day - Vespers 🎶in the 'Duomo' or Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore ⛪️.  So the boys donned their kilts 👗(big discussions on what to wear from the boys, an unusual occurrence), followed the sound of the bag pipes 🎶 and took out seats in the front row of the cathedral.It was rather wonderful attending a service in the vast cathedral, just enjoying the music (a Gregorian Mass) and looking at the interior.  It's gothic and I rather like it - not too much fuss, plain walls intersected by grey columns, and we had a nice view of the inside of the dome - frescoes started by Vasari and completed by Federico Zuccari 🎨.  They played the bagpipes at the end - and it was rather surreal to be surrounded by hundreds of Brits in kilts, listening to the pipes.  There was a nice speech about how the bagpipes have a European history - they are actually mentioned in Roman writings, they feature in an Italian painting somewhere and in Italy they still play an instrument called Zampogna, which is a smaller member of the pipe family.  So perhaps they aren't so unusual.  I think it is the men in skirts that really causes a stir 💃.....We left the cathedral ⛪️ following the dulcet tones of the bagpipes, and headed to the Mercato del Porcellino 🐷 to enjoy some stuzzichini (Italian eats), which there were many of.  Cheese 🍮, hot chocolate ☕️, and some other really quite exciting edible things - and then someone started some reels 👯 (can't help themselves the Scots).  We also had a quick look around the Palazzo di Parte Guelfa - once the headquarters of the Guelph party, merchants and burghers (not the kind Jamie and Ed had been eating 🍔 that morning, who did by the way, make it just in time for the church service, Easy Jet were kind to the poor souls).  The palazzo is now the seat of the Calcio Storico Fiorentino, an early form of football ⚽️originating in Italy.  So that was nice.We headed to Trattoria Za-Za for dinner 🍕 (after a quick whirl on a carousel 🎠) and finally got a table.  We had a booking for 10pm - and absolutely no explanation as to why our table wasn't ready until 10.15pm (it just wasn't OK) even with all the dark hangry mutterings from us.  Za-Za is a weird place, there are many dolls on shelves, and other strange things about the place - but they've got big tables and we enjoyed the food.  We wandered home via Piazza Santa Spirito where the party was raging, many drunk scottish youth 🍻, kilt clad and having a lovely time, and made our way back to the hotel and bed 💤.It was a super fun day, and just the beginning 😊I will catch up with you tomorrow 😘!Alice xxxIMG_3082IMG_3087IMG_3091IMG_3099IMG_3101IMG_3386IMG_3111IMG_3112IMG_3140IMG_3128IMG_3137IMG_3142IMG_3143IMG_3151IMG_3152