Late last September, I flew to Florence. My final destination was Rome but I’d left my plans rather late and by far the cheapest way to make my journey was to take a flight to Tuscany and from there take the treni to the Italian capital. But this was fine with me. After all, it made the whole trip, which was scheduled to be for five nights away, something of an adventure. In the end, a bit more of one than I had bargained for.

The spectacular Ponte Vecchio across the River Arno in Florence; it’s one of several beautiful structures in one for the world’s most beautiful cities

Florence itself, of course, is worth anyone’s time. The cultural highlights are numerous and obviously include the bridge you see in the photo above. The cathedral, which dominates the skyline, is magnificent. There is the Uffizi Gallery, the Pitti Palace, and Michelangelo’s statue of David, which is arguably the most famous such work of art in the world. But walking the streets in general, enjoying the shops and the places to eat and drink, is a treat for any aesthete.

Inside the express from Rome to Florence – note the inboard information system, which is like those you get on some long-haul flights

The photo on the home page shows a couple of trains at the Santa Maria Novella railway station in Florence. Mine was not as speedy as the timetable had indicated but it got me to Rome in good time for a walk and dinner. I wrote about my time in Rome in a blog I posted in October; I won’t revisit that here. But after my stay there, and once I got to the airport in Florence for the journey home, I was to find a nasty surprise. The flight had been cancelled. Worse, there would be no way out (at least not with BA) until 48 hours later. And it wouldn’t be from Florence. It would be from Milan. I mean, who doesn’t love a five-hour coach trip through the night on an Italian autoroute? In order to spend two nights at an airport hotel?

We learned later that some of us had had it better than others. One group, seemingly selected at random, were driven in SUVs and spent two nights at a small castle near Varese, in the Italian lakes. For my part, making the most of what was not an ideal job, I got to spend a few hours exploring Milan, which I had not done in many years. It was a gorgeous day and there are far worse ways to spend one. One amusing twist at the airport on the Wednesday afternoon was that among the people I had been grouped with was a young Australian woman whose christian name was, extraordinarily enough, Milano. The official at passport control could scarcely believe it!

The magnificent duomo in Milano…it was built over a period of six centuries and is the third largest cathedral in the world

The flight out of Malpensa took off early, although of course it was in fact two days late. I made it home eventually, no damage done – although that switch from London City to Heathrow was a final annoyance I would happily have done without.