Have you ever had one of those travel experiences where you arrive somewhere feeling high on life, like nothing can ruin your day, only to be mislead or deceived in some way that left you with a bad taste in your mouth? Maybe you got scammed in Asia, or broke your face while cliff-jumping in Hawaii. Most of you know what I’m talking about. You have an idea in your head of what an experience will be like and it turns out being nothing like you expected. The bad ends up overshadowing the good, leaving a tainted view of a destination you had dreamt about. For travellers, I think this can be a common occurrence, and one we can all learn from. We can learn to just roll with the punches, focus on the good experiences and learn from the unfortunate ones. Reflecting on my time in Florence, I am reminded of the time we were duped into buying the most expensive gelato I’ve ever had in my life. A story that makes me laugh now, but at the time was no laughing matter.
After a short 2 hour train ride from Venice to Florence, we were excited to explore the sights and sounds of the capital of Tuscany. Visions of the Duomo, the Uffizi Gallery and the Campanile di Giotto had me eager to explore the many masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture. Coming from Venice, our expectations were high. We had just spent 3 days getting lost in the alleyways of my favorite Italian city, eating gelato, drinking wine and floating through the canals of the city on water. I had heard that some of the best gelato in the country could be found in Florence, and I was determined to do my fact checking by trying as many possible places as I could in just three short days.
Upon checking into our gorgeous AirBNB (no seriously, stay here), we headed out to explore what Firenze had to offer. September was warm in Italy. Not too hot, but warm enough for shorts and dresses and the perfect gelato tasting weather. Perhaps it was a little bit of “eager-beaverness” or the fact that we were hungry from sitting on a train for the afternoon with only pretzels and wine, but we were determined to find ourselves some damn-good gelato! Our search led us to one of the first places we could find that looked busy, near the centre of Florence. If I could remember the name I would tell you (bad-blogger) but perhaps it’s for the best for the sake of their business.
Now, let me pre-face this by telling you that the gelato WAS good. It was delicious. Was it worth the price? Absolutely not. We had some of the best gelato ever in Venice for about a euro, and later on ended up having some of the worlds best gelato (their claim to fame) in San Gimignano for a fraction of the price. As we entered the gelateria, we marvelled at the glass enclosure lined with countless flavours of sweet, delicious gelato. Flavours like pistachio, hazelnut and lemon catching my eye. As I approached the woman at the counter, I asked for a small (2 scoops) in a cone of peanut butter and hazelnut, Devan ordering the same. As the woman scooped my creamy treat into a waffle cone, I noticed another woman in front of us having a discussion with the cashier. Although I could not make out what they were saying, it was obvious that a language barrier was making the conversation less than comfortable. At this point I was only concerned with getting that gelato in my belly.
Once we were handed our gelato, we proceeded towards the cashier at which time I was able to eaves-drop on the argument between the cashier and the woman. The cashier was informing her that she was not going to be paying the price as clearly listed on the sign, because they were “out of that size”. The sign clearly stated that the price for 2 scoops was X amount, but the cashier seemed to think they could charge whatever they felt like on that given day. The woman was obviously angry, and began yelling in English at the cashier who was yelling back in Italian. She asked the cashier if she could give the gelato back to which the cashier shook his head and returned a puzzled look. The woman, obviously frustrated exchanged more strong words and then told the cashier she was not paying “this outrageous price”. At this point, the cashier was frustrated as well and picked up the phone threatening to call the Policia if she did not pay for her gelato and leave. The poor lady had two choices, cough up the euros or ditch the cone and run for your life. She chose the former.
Approaching the cashier, I knew what to expect. I wasn’t going to fight it because I had seen show before, so I coughed up the twenty euros for our damned ice cream cones.
What did I learn from this experience?
- Always pay for your gelato BEFORE taking it. Take your receipt to the counter so there are no surprises.
- Italians take their gelato very seriously.
- In my opinion, the best gelato is not in Florence. It’s in Venice.
- Never let a bad experience ruin your memories of a city or country. Florence was a beautiful city with so much more than expensive gelato.
- Hazelnut is still my favorite flavour of gelato
What are some unexpected experiences you have had while traveling? How did you deal with them?