There is something rather romanticised about the notion of travelling alone.
So when I was invited to a wedding in Florence, I excitedly booked my flight and extended my trip for some solo ‘me’ time.
If Julia Roberts could do it, then why the hell couldn’t I?
But as the trip finally came around, I realised travelling alone was a journey that we’re never really prepared for.
After a three hour flight I was glad to switch off from the bustle of London life.
I’d rented a car to drive to the chateau situated 45 minutes from the airport, outside of Volterra.
I waited for my Fiat 500, fitting for the idyllic setting.
“I’m sorry no 500s,” the Italian man abruptly informed me, “You’ll have to have a Panda.”
Its ok, I told myself, it’s the journey we go on and not the transport we take.
There in the car park I stared at the Panda.
Yeah, the journey…
With a fully charged iPhone and data roaming, I had no need to hire a sat nav.
I punched in the postcode and set off, kangarooing out of the car park.
10 minutes later I was pulled over, off route and quite frankly a little lost.
I nervously drove in what I hoped was the correct direction.
“You have reached your destination.”
Looking around at the dirt track road, after 78 minutes of driving and not a promise of wine or a beautiful chateau in sight, I had definitely not reached my destination.
With battery percentage low and the evening drawing in, I raced my little Panda in the direction the road suggested.
My sweaty hands gripped the steering wheel.
And as I finally pulled up to the chateau, I practically fell out of the car.
Thankfully the next four jammed-packed days of wine tasting, decadent meals, a lavish wedding and a pizza pool party, had meant no more driving.
Tuscany did not disappoint.
Its picturesque setting and rolling hills were the perfect escape.
The small surrounding towns offered up cafes, boutique shops and afternoons in the sun.
Vacation weddings were pricey but worth it.
And with carbs and wine lining my stomach, the holiday swell was in full bloom.
But soon enough the time had come for me to go it alone.
Leaving the comfort blanket of friends, I set off into the great Tuscan unknown.
The sun had decided to shine on the tranquil setting and I grinned to myself.
I even took my hand off the steering wheel to turn on the radio, making my way to San Ginimani.
Wandering into the town of towers I treaded the cobbled streets.
Discovering a cute Italian in the piazza (restaurant not man), I asked for a table for one.
Pizza, coffee and sun.
In that moment being alone didn’t feel odd in the slightest.
Two hours later I sped into Siena, driving up to a beautiful villa on the outskirts.
Villa Scapissicano was 45 minutes out of Siena and had an incredible view over the city.
I checked into my suite and connected to the wifi.
Despite being alone, technology always had my back.
The property had tennis courts, a pool and terrace which captured the sunset.
A friendly waiter offered me a drink and I sipped a red wine watching the evening sun.
I strutted across the tiled floor of my suite, collecting my charging phone before heading out for dinner.
CONNECT TO ITUNES.
I stared blankly at the screen.
Switching it off and back on, I had hoped my limited knowledge would be enough.
CONNECT TO ITUNES.
Again, I was in the middle of nowhere and alone.
My phone had done the new Apple update.
Connecting to the internet had allowed it to automatically update, but now my phone was unusable.
That’s my phone, my map, my satnav, my camera, my alarm clock.
The only computer available in the hotel dated way back past iTunes.
Thankfully the kind receptionist discovered an i-repair shop in town, but wasn’t sure if it still existed.
That night I went to bed without any food, alarm and worrying about the next day.
After barely sleeping, I showered and pulled on some clothes.
With a map in hand, my stomach grumbled as I blindly began the trek into town.
It was hard to ignore the scenic walk, despite sweating with nerves.
Truly, the popular Tuscan town was one to marvel.
What I had originally thought would take 30 minutes, took 1 hour 40.
Thankfully the shop was open for business.
“We can try, but it might not work,” the Italian assistant said.
I handed over my phone.
22 minutes passed.
The sun was shining, my phone was working and I treading the cobbled streets of a new town. This time grinning rather than sweating.
Cafes, culture and lots of walking around narrow streets.
Relief had replaced anxiety and that afternoon I dozed by the pool.
My dinner reservation had been confirmed and tonight I would dine like a king.
As the taxi headed into town, I clutched my map. Since losing the use of my phone I had become attached to it.
The recommended restaurant was beautiful, situated just off the Piazza del Campo.
I was seated outside and opposite an empty chair.
“Red wine please.”
My staple drink.
After an hour and a half, I was craving company.
Around me couples gazed into each other’s eyes.
It was hard to escape romance and at night Siena looked remarkable.
The next day my phone transformed back into a sat nav and I headed to Florence.
Its roads were a one-way nightmare.
Seeing the Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo and a view from above at the Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence had quickly become my favourite Tuscan treat.
I sat reflecting on my trip, another glass of red in hand.
Travelling alone needed courage and a mobile phone connection… for the sat nav at least.
Even driving back to the airport the next day was a mad dash, adding to the realisation, sometimes we need help/deodorant.
It’s an adventure which enables us to be ok if we find ourselves alone.
I once read that you have to lose yourself to find yourself.
You only have two choices from there.
Stay lost, or rediscover yourself.